This volume provides lively and authoritative introductions to twenty-nine of the most important British and Irish poets from Geoffrey Chaucer to Philip Larkin. The list includes, among others, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, Browning, Yeats and T. S. Eliot, and represents the tradition of English poetry at its best. Each contributor offers a new assessment of a single poet's achievement and importance, with readings of the most important poems. The essays, written by leading experts, are personal responses, written in clear, vivid language, free of academic jargon, and aim to inform, arouse interest, and deepen understanding.
Now best known for three great novels - Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews and Amelia - Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was one of the most controversial figures of his time. Prominent first as a playwright, then as a novelist and political journalist, and finally as a justice of peace, Fielding made a substantial contribution to eighteenth-century culture, and was hugely influential in the development of the novel as a form, both in Britain and more widely in Europe. This collection of specially-commissioned essays by leading scholars describes and analyses the many facets of Fielding's work in theatre, fiction, journalism and politics. In addition it assesses his unique contribution to the rise of the novel as the dominant literary form, the development of the law, and the political and literary culture of eighteenth-century Britain. Including a Chronology and Guide to Further Reading, this volume offers a comprehensive account of Fielding's life and work.
Rosemary Ashton explores the many facets of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's complex personality, by turns poet, critic, thinker, enchanting companion, feckless husband, fabled conversationalist and guilt-ridden opium addict.
Jonathan Swift's influence on the writings and politics of England and Ireland was reinforced by a combination of contradictory forces: an authoritarian attachment to tradition and rule, and a vivid responsiveness to the disorders of a modernity he resisted and yet helped to create. He was, perhaps even more than Pope, a dominant voice of his times. The rich variety of the literary culture to which he belonged shows the penetration of his ideas, personality and style. This is true of writers who were his friends and admirers (Pope), of adversaries (Mandeville, Johnson), of several who became great ironists in his shadow (Gibbon, Austen), and of some surprising examples of Swiftian afterlife (Chatterton). Claude Rawson, leading scholar of the works of Swift, brings together recent essays, as well as classic earlier work extensively revised, to offer fresh insights into an era when Swift's voice was a pervasive presence.
Jonathan Swift's angers were all too real, though Swift was temperamentally equivocal about their display. Even in his most brilliant satire, A Tale of a Tub, the aggressive vitality of the narrative is designed, for all the intensity of its sting, never to lose its cool. Yet Swift's angers are partly self-implicating, since his own temperament was close to the things he attacked, and behind his angers are deep self-divisions. Though he regarded himself as 'English' and despised the Irish 'natives' over whom the English ruled, Swift became the hero of an Irish independence he would not have desired. In this magisterial account, Claude Rawson, widely considered the leading Swift scholar of our time, brings together recent work, as well as classic earlier discussions extensively revised, offering fresh insights into Swift's bleak view of human nature, his brilliant wit, and the indignations and self-divisions of his writings and political activism.
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