Recent research into a self-taught tradition of English rural poetry has begun to offer a radically new dimension to our view of the role of poetry in the literary culture of the eighteenth century. In this important new study John Goodridge offers a detailed reading of key rural poems of the period, examines the ways in which eighteenth-century poets adapted Virgilian Georgic models, and reveals an illuminating link between rural poetry and agricultural and folkloric developments. Goodridge compares poetic accounts of rural labour by James Thomson, Stephen Duck, and Mary Collier, and makes a close analysis of one of the largely forgotten didactic epics of the eighteenth century, John Dyer's The Fleece. Through an exploration of the purpose of rural poetry and how it relates to the real world, Goodridge breaks through the often brittle surface of eighteenth-century poetry, to show how it reflects the ideologies and realities of contemporary life.
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'Goodridge provides a fascinating interdisciplinary approach to his subject which other critics of the rural tradition in literature would benefit from following.' John Clare Society Journal
'Although this is a book which is specialised, it is of much interest and importance to those studying rural poetry, rural labour history or agricultural history.' John Clare Society Journal
John Goodridge explores the role of rural poetry in eighteenth-century literary culture. He examines the purpose of rural poetry, and how it relates to the real world, analyses accounts of rural labour by self-taught poets, and reveals unexpected links between rural poetry and agricultural and folkloric developments of the time.
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