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‘He loves the mind, in all its modes’: the unity of George Crabbe’s life work

Bainbridge, James (2010) ‘He loves the mind, in all its modes’: the unity of George Crabbe’s life work. Doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

The poetry of George Crabbe has for a long time not received the attention it deserves. Part of the reason for this is that it does not easily fit the preconceived trends in eighteenth and early nineteenth century verse. This thesis looks at Crabbe from a new direction, exploring his writing on its own terms. Using previously unexplored writing, the thesis builds a fuller picture of the poet’s interests in the world and examines how these informed the creation of his major achievement, the verse tale. The preface opens arguments for re-evaluating the critical reception. It considers the apparent twenty-two year gap in Crabbe’s writing career and argues that the activities of this period must be considered to fully understand the verse tales he produced in the latter period of his life. Chapter one examines the origins for the tale. Looking at Crabbe’s interest in redressing what he considered ‘failings’ in poetry it draws together examples of the poet’s original innovation. Using a hitherto unexamined poetic fragment in the John Murray Archive, a view is put forward that Crabbe had already begun writing tales during the twenty-two year gap, countering the opinion that the form was arrived at from experimentation in ‘The Parish Register’. Chapter two considers the largely overlooked impact that Crabbe’s faith had on his poetry. Examining a wide range of the poet’s unpublished religious manuscripts, it redresses the view that he entered the church simply to support himself writing poetry. It counters the opinion that these are simple ‘moral tales’, demonstrating a more complex view that Crabbe’s firm soteriological views did not allow such judgements to be made. Chapter three explores the poet’s naturalist endeavours and examines how his pursuits in scientific classification shaped the arrangement of his writing. It puts forward new evidence for the range of taxonomic systems the poet was using, and argues that the attention to specification had a significant impact on the poet’s realistic portrayals of the world. Chapter four draws together the arguments of these chapters in considering the poet’s representation of altered psychological states. It builds a detailed picture of key examples of realist narratives in Crabbe’s tales. In the conclusion, the impact of Crabbe’s writing is addressed. Looking at how his poetry influenced a wide range of writers in the nineteenth century and beyond, it argues that the poet’s refusal to simplify the complexities of the world set the foundations for Victorian realism.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords:George Crabbe; Verse tale; eighteenth century; Romantic; poetry; botany
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PE English
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Status:Unpublished
ID Code:3973
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 10:36
Last Modified:29 Nov 2011 17:16

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