George Crabbe: A Reappraisal
George Crabbe: A Reappraisal is centered on the belief that Crabbe, particularly in his verse-tales, is an important, even major, poet whose work has been and still is seriously undervalued.
After an introductory chapter, the next five chapters in Part 1 offer a straightforward account of the changes in Crabbe's poetry up to its pinnacle of achievement in 1812, tracing its development from the generalized discursive poetical essays of the 1780s through the particularized character sketches and anecdotes of The Parish Register and much of The Borough to the full-length verse-tales that reach their full maturity in Tales (1812).
The second section of the book reopens the discussion of Crabbe's work from a set of slightly altered perspectives. Thus one chapter is concerned with the work of the first generation of Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey) and suggests that some of the energy and tension of Crabbe's mature poetry comes from his readiness to expose himself, sensitively yet not uncritically, to the new currents of feeling that were stirring in England around the turn of the century. Other chapters deal with the question of genre, with the claim that Crabbe's determinate meanings (often thought to be peculiarly translucent) can be reduced to indeterminacy by a deconstructive approach, and with the extent to which "ideology" governed his social and political outlook. A concluding chapter takes as its perspective the attempt to set Crabbe's total oeuvre in the context of what we know about his life and personality.
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