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Ever since their rediscovery in the 1920s, John Donne's writings have been praised for their energy, vigour and drama - yet so far, no attempt has been made to approach and define systematically these major characteristics of his work. Drawing on J. L. Austin's…

The Asylum Dance

by John Burnside

|November 30, 2010

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Lucid, tender, and strangely troubling, the poems in The Asylum Dance - which won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry - are hymns to the tension between the sanctuary of home and the lure of escape. This is territory that Burnside has made his own: a domestic world…

Remains of Elmet

by Ted Hughes

|September 15, 2011

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'The Calder valley, west of Halifax, was the last ditch of Elmet, the last British Celtic kingdom to fall to the Angles. For centuries it was considered a more or less uninhabitable wilderness, a notorious refuge for criminals, a hide-out for refugees. Then in…

The Poem Is You

by Stephen Burt

|September 12, 2016

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The variety of contemporary American poetry leaves many readers overwhelmed. The critic, scholar, and poet Stephen Burt sets out to help. Beginning in the early 1980s, where critical consensus ends, he presents 60 poems, each with an original essay explaining how…
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When Edward Thomas was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917 his poems were largely unpublished. But in the years since his death, his work has come to be cherished for its rare, sustained vision of the natural world and as 'a mirror of England' (Walter de la…
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'The most remarkable phenomenon of the English poetic scene during the last ten years or so has been the advent, or perhaps I should say the irruption, of Gavin Ewart' wrote Philip Larkin. Larkin was one among many poets and critics who admired Gavin Ewart's…
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Dante's Fearful Art of Justice deals primarily with the symbolic significance of 'the state of souls after death' in various episodes of the Inferno , the first canticle of Dante's Divina Commedia . The fruitlessness of the Auerbach-Singleton approach to the poem…

Shakespeare

by George Ian Duthie

|October 11, 2013

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First published in 1951. 'The book has the sterling qualities of shrewd sense and acumen that mark the 'rational' classical school of Shakespeare criticism.' Notes and Queries 'Professor Duthie's approach is direct and extremely objective. With no axe to grind,…
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First published to great acclaim in 1979, At the Pillars of Hercules (a title taken from a certain Soho pub) confirmed Clive James’s place as a writer of immense talent, and as entertaining and elegant as ever. His main topics are contemporary poetry, aesthetics…

T. S. Eliot

by Craig Raine

|September 1, 2011

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The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the twentieth century's most famous poet and its most influential literary arbiter, T.S. Eliot has long been thought to be an obscure and difficult poet--forbiddingly learned, maddeningly enigmatic. Now, in this…

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While historians of science have focused significant attention on Erasmus Darwin’s scientific ideas and milieu, relatively little attention has been paid to Darwin as a literary writer. In The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin: Enlightened Spaces, Romantic Times, Martin…

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Marprelate, Milton, Marvell, and Swift are among the best prose satirists in a remarkably rich literary era. Focusing on these key figures, ‘ Betwixt Jest and Earnest ’ examines the theory and practice of religious prose in the sixteenth and seventeenth…