Older Masters: Essays and Reflections on English and American Literature

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Continuum, 1992 - Art - 328 pages
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To mark Donald Davie's seventieth birthday, Continuum publishes his major essays on British and American writers, from Chaucer to Browning.
Donald Davie is a poet-critic: his admirable essays are free of jargon, full of the clarity and insight of a major practitioner of the poetic art. His writing is in every sense refreshing: a pleasure to read. It is an inspiration to reread the writers he considers in these pages - Ralegh, Shakespeare, Milton, Edward Taylor, Isaac Watts, Dryden, Berkeley, Pope, Wesley, Smart, Cowper, Goldsmith, Dr. Johnson, Wordsworth, Scott, Keats, and Landor, as well as Chaucer and Browning.
What gives this book unity is style, a coherence of concerns, and an insistence on revaluing certain writers - including Scott and Goldsmith and the great hymn writers - who have fallen out of fashion.

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Contents

liol Contents 1 Chaucer and One Idea of Englishness 1972
7
A Reading of The Oceans Love to Cynthia 1960
13
Shakespeare and the Practising Poet Today 1976
31
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About the author (1992)

Donald Davie was at the forefront of the poetic school of the 1950s known as the Movement. The group's aesthetic was characterized by simplicity, in contrast to the extravagant rhetoric and stylistic excesses that they felt marked neoromantic poetic trends. Unlike other Movement poets, though, Davie generally eschews a casual tenor or informal voice, resorting instead to a more traditional prosody and affirming the influence of late Augustan poets. Davie's most durable contribution to poetic debates of the period was a work of literary criticism called Purity of Diction in English Verse (1952). The laws of poetic syntax, he argues, are as momentous as the laws of human society and should be appreciated equally. Davie was born in Barnsley, a place that figures gloomily in much of his work. He has taught at universities in both Great Britain and the United States.

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