George Crabbe: A Reappraisal

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Susquehanna University Press, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 243 pages
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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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The Last Augustan?
Traditional Influences
Immediate Precursors
The Tale in Embryo
Further Narrative Development
Tales 1812
Tales of the Hall
Crabbe and Genre
Crabbe Realism
Crabbe and Indeterminacy
Crabbe and Ideology
Biographical Speculations
Select Bibliography

Crabbes VerseTales and Romanticism

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Page 41 - this Tale, while I was yet a boy Careless of books, yet having felt the power Of Nature, by the gentle agency Of natural objects led me on to feel For passions that were not my own, and think (At random and imperfectly indeed) On man, the heart of man and human life. (27-33) The
Page 28 - subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters and incidents were to be such as will be found in every village and its vicinity where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them, when they present themselves.
Page 38 - [I]t will be the wish of the Poet to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time perhaps, to let himself slip into an entire delusion, and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs..
Page 42 - Meantime Luke began To slacken in his duty, and at length He in the dissolute city gave himself To evil courses: ignominy and shame Fell on him, so that he was driven at last To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas. (451-56)
Page 30 - There often wanders one, whom better days Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimm'd With lace, and hat with splendid ribband bound. A serving maid was she and fell in love With one who left her, went to sea and died.
Page 153 - such fear and awe As fall upon us often when we look Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man— My haunt, and the main region of my song. And
Page 154 - spreading the tone, the atmosphere, and with it the depth and height of the ideal world around forms, incidents and situations, of which for the common view, custom had bedimmed all the lustre.
Page 169 - Formal realism is ... the narrative embodiment of a premise . . . which is implicit in the novel form in general: the premise, or primary convention, that the novel is a full and authentic report of human experience, and is therefore under an obligation to satisfy its reader with such details
Page 39 - the popular Poetry of the day ... is that the feeling therein developed gives importance to the action and situation and not the action and situation to the feeling.

About the author (1995)

Frank Whitehead was chairman of the National Association for the Teaching of English from 1965 to 1967.

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