Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988

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Carcanet, 1989 - Poetry - 261 pages
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"Under Briggflatts" is a history of the last thirty years of British poetry with necessary excursions into other areas: criticism, philosophy, translation, and non-British English poetries. It has grown naturally out of Donald Davie's immediate involvement with new writing as a poet, reviewer, teacher, and reader. He has reassessed the writers who have most engaged his attention, revised his reviews, and supplemented earlier material with much that is new. "Under Briggflatts" provides a narrative that is remarkable in scope and generous in tone. By combining close readings of specific poems and more general considerations of style, form, and context, Davie's account is characteristically elegant, precise, and uncompromising.
"Under Briggflatts" is organized in three large chapters, one devoted to each decade. In the 1960s, Davie pays particular attention to the work of Austin Clarke, Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman McCaig, Keith Douglas, Edwin Muir, Basil Bunting (the gurus whose prose writings helped catalyze the traumatic events of 1968), Elaine Feinstein, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Philip Larkin, Charles Tomlinson, Thomas Kinsella, and Ted Hughes. The second chapter follows these figures into the new decade and explores the work of (among others) Thom Gunn, C. H. Sisson, R. S. Thomas, John Betjeman, and such themes as women's poetry, translation, poetic theory, and the later impact of T. S. Eliot and of Edward Thomas. Perhaps the most controversial chapter is the third, in which David--without abandoning the poets already introduced--assesses Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, and Seamus Heaney, and looks too at the recovery of Ivor Gurney's poems, at Ted Hughes as Laureate, the posthumous work of Sylvia Townsend Warner, the burgeoning Hardy industry, and the critical writings of Kenneth Cox.

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Contents

Foreword
7
Remembering the Western Desert
22
Basil Bunting
38
1968
58
Clarke and Hughes
74
Elaine Feinstein and Womens Poetry
90
H Sissons Politics
103
Prosody
120
AngloWelsh Poets
158
Thom Gunn
177
The 1980s
183
The Thomas Hardy Industry
204
Hughes as Laureate
218
Kenneth Coxs Criticism
234
Afterword
252
Copyright

Poetic Theory
139

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About the author (1989)

Donald Davie is widely read in Britain and the United States by those who find the tensions of deep and complex emotion most effective in poetry when expressed with discipline and restraint. Davie, who taught for many years at Stanford and Vanderbilt, was also an influential scholar and critic.

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