Author(s): Adam White
This book offers a major reassessment of John Clare’s poetry and his position in the Romantic canon. Alert to Clare’s knowledge of the work of his Romantic contemporaries and near contemporaries, it puts forward the first extended series of comparisons of Clare’s poetry with texts we now think of as defining the period – in particular poems by Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and John Keats. It makes fully evident Clare’s original contribution to the aesthetic culture of the age by analysing how he explores a wide range of concerns and preoccupations which are central to, and especially privileged in, Romantic-period poetics, including ‘fancy’, the sublime, childhood, ruins, joy, ‘poesy’, and a love lyric marked by a peculiar self-consciousness about sincere expression. At the heart of this book is the claim that the hitherto under-scrutinised subjective stances, transcendent modes, and abstract qualities of Clare’s lyric poetry situate him firmly within, and as fundamentally part of, Romanticism, at the same time as his writing constitutes a distinctive contribution to one of the most fascinating eras of English literature.