England and Englishness : ideas of nationhood in English poetry, 1688-1900 /
John Lucas.
Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, 1990.
227 p.
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Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, 1990.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Appeared in Choice on 1990-10:
In this fascinating book, Lucas examines the notion of "Englishness" in English poetry from 1688 to 1900. He claims that what unifies Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Gray, Goldsmith, Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, and Hopkins is their need to identify nationhood. Lucas traces the gradual movement away from the idea of England based on the model of the city-state to the retreat-from-city-to-country, which occurred during the Romantic period and argues that Blake was the first writer of modern times to grasp the fact that if nationhood cannot be defined in terms of the city, it cannot be defined at all. He goes on to demonstrate how these poets who tried to write the city out of their accounts of nationhood were unable to produce an image of "England" or "Englishness" that carried authority, even though they claimed authority for themselves. Thus, by the end of the 19th century, the poet's authority had dwindled to the point where it was to be identified with the consolations of withdrawal, and authority was passed to the novelists. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries. -M. S. Johnston, Mankato State University
This item was reviewed in:
University Press Book News, June 1990
Choice, October 1990
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