220 pages, 1 b/w illustration
John Clare (1793-1864) has long been recognised as one of England's foremost poets of nature, landscape and rural life. Scholars and general readers alike regard his tremendous creative output as a testament to a probing and powerful intellect. Clare was that rare amalgam – a poet who wrote from a working-class, impoverished background, who was steeped in folk and ballad culture, and who yet, against all social expectations and prejudices, read and wrote himself into a grand literary tradition.
All the while he maintained a determined sense of his own commitments to the poor, to natural history, and to the local. Through the diverse approaches of ten proven literary scholars, this collection brings out the ways in which Clare's many angles of critical vision illuminate current understandings of environmental ethics, aesthetics, Romantic and Victorian literary history, and the nature of work.
Introduction Simon Kövesi and Scott McEathron
Part I. Poetry
1. John Clare's colours Fiona Stafford
2. John Clare, William Cowper and the eighteenth century Adam Rounce
3. John Clare's conspiracy Sarah M. Zimmerman
Part II. Culture
4. John Clare and the new varieties of enclosure: a polemic John Burnside
5. Ecology with religion: kinship in John Clare Emma Mason
6. The lives of Frederick Martin and the first Life of John Clare Scott McEathron
7. John Clare's deaths: poverty, education, and poetry Simon Kövesi
Part III. Community
8. John Clare's natural history Robert Heyes
9. 'This is radical slang': John Clare, Admiral Lord John Radstock and the Queen Caroline affair Sam Ward
10. John Clare and the London Magazine Richard Cronin
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Simon Kövesi is Professor of English Literature at Oxford Brookes University. He edited two prefatory collections of Clare's poetry – Love Poems (1999) and Flower Poems (2001) – and with John Goodridge was co-editor of John Clare: New Approaches (2000). His study of the contemporary Glaswegian writer, James Kelman (2007), was shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year Award in 2008. He is editor of the John Clare Society Journal and has published essays on Clare, ecology, copyright, editing and Romantic literary culture. His study of Clare is forthcoming.
Scott McEathron is Associate Professor of English at Southern Illinois University. He has written extensively on the relationship between labouring-class poetry and canonical Romanticism, and, more recently, has published a series of essays on Romantic-era painters and paintings connected with Lamb, Hazlitt, and Keats. He is the editor of English Labouring-Class Poetry, 1800-1830 (2006) and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Sourcebook (2005). His current projects include work on the nineteenth-century labouring-class elegy and on the treatment of labouring-class poets by the Royal Literary Fund.