John Betjeman: Reading the Victorians (Paperback)
  • John Betjeman: Reading the Victorians (Paperback)
zoom

John Betjeman: Reading the Victorians (Paperback)

(author)
£22.50
Paperback 272 Pages / Published: 29/02/2012
  • In stock online
  • Free UK delivery

Usually despatched within 24 hours

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect
John Betjeman was undoubtedly the most popular Poet Laureate since Tennyson. But beneath the thoroughly modern window on Britain that he opened during his lifetime lay the influence of his nineteenth-century forebears. This book explores his identity through such Victorianism via the verse of that period, but also its architecture, religious faith and -- more importantly -- religious doubt. It was, nevertheless, a process which took time. In the 1930s Betjeman's work was tinted with modernism and traditionalism. He found Victorian buildings 'funny' and wrote much in praise of the Bauhaus style, even though his early poetry was peppered with Victorian references. This leaning was incorporated into a greater sense of purpose during World War II, when he transformed himself from precious humorist into propagandist. The resulting sense of cohesion grew when the dangers of post-war urban redevelopment heightened the need to critique the present via the poetics of the past, a mood which continued up to and beyond his gaining the Laureateship in 1972. This duty proved to be a millstone, so the 'official' poems are thus explored by the author more fully than hitherto. The conclusion of John Betjeman: Reading the Victorians looks back to Betjeman's 1960 verse-autobiography, Summoned by Bells, which is seen as the apogee of his achievement and a snapshot of his identity. Included here is the first critical appreciation of the lyrics embodied within the text, which are taken as a map of the young poet's literary growth. Larkin's 1959 question 'What exactly is Betjeman?' then leads to a final appraisal of his originality, as evidenced by his glances towards postmodernism, feminism, and post-colonialism. The fact is that Betjeman never quite fits in anywhere. He is always a square peg in a round hole or a round peg in a square hole -- often for the sheer enjoyment of so being. In a sense, his desire to be as non-conformist as a Quaker meeting house makes him a radical, rather than the reactionary that his interests imply. He was a champion of beauty and the British Isles, and clearly did much to make us see the worth of our Victorian forebears. Greg Morse's book highlights this important facet of his work.

Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
ISBN: 9781845195342
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 368 g
Dimensions: 152 x 229 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"In his analysis of how Betjeman "reads" the Victorians, Morse succeeds admirably. His own reading of Victorianism - and of Betjeman - is extensive, and the resulting book, which began life as a doctoral thesis, is an impressive piece of scholarship. His recourse to Betjeman's largely uncollected prose is all the more admirable considering that he completed his research without the benefit of William Peterson's masterful new bibliography, John Betjeman: A Bibliography (Clarendon Press, 2006), or Stephen Games's new anthologies of Betjeman's prose. With its chronological approach, this book will serve as an effective introduction to Betjeman, and Victorian scholars will surely want to read it for its account of the fate of Victorianism in the twentieth century. A thematic organization might have been a more useful structure, however, as some portions of the book may prove repetitive to readers already versed in Betjeman's life and works; for instance, Morse's second chapter, 'The 1930s', covers much of the same material entailed by Timothy Mowl in Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman Versus Pevsner (John Murray, 2000), and his attention to the production, design and reception of Betjeman's books has been thoroughly covered in Bevis Hillier's biographical triptych. However, Morse is the first critic to treat Betjeman's laureate verse with seriousness, and he is only the second, following Dennis Brown's brief but excellent monograph, John Betjeman (Northcote House, 1999), to treat Summoned by Bells with the seriousness that it deserves. Morse convincingly explains how Betjeman made Victorianism not merely palatable to English taste but central to English Identity." --English Studies


"Morse teases out the Victorian roots of Betjeman (1906-84), celebrated as Britain's most popular poet laureate since Tennyson. He follows the poet's career decade by decade beginning with the 1930s, looking at such aspects as chapel and spa, flag stones, campaign and caveats, the Euston murder, faith and doubt, battling with bulldozers, changing horizons, and the epic." --Reference & Research Book News

You may also be interested in...

The Terrible
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The Poem
Added to basket
£25.00
Hardback
Selected Poems of Sylvia Plath
Added to basket
The Mighty Dead
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Why Dylan Matters
Added to basket
Poetry Please: The Seasons
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Beowulf
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
Mr Lear
Added to basket
£25.00
Hardback
Mr Lear
Added to basket
£14.99
Paperback
Poems for a world gone to sh*t
Added to basket
Rumi Poems
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
Emily Dickinson
Added to basket
£3.99
Paperback
Deaths of the Poets
Added to basket
Birthday Letters
Added to basket
£12.99
Paperback

Reviews

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.