It also underscores the expansive and multifold reach of poetry and the lives of poets as not just artists but emissaries.
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The volume records five decades of travel, across continents, through political hotspots and contested territories. And though it contains some previously published journals, the bulk of entries have been typed from handwritten notebooks archived in the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. At more than pages, the journals paint a vast, impressionistic canvas of place and mood — real and imagined. The writing is playful, luminous and trenchant.
What these pages reveal is that if poetry and prose propelled him across the globe, politics pulled him deeper into the heart of a place. In Havana in , he arrives ready to get behind the official U. If Ferlinghetti is the fixed point, Ginsberg who died in was the satellite: That dichotomy and the looping switchbacks of their long friendship is played out nakedly in this collection. Much of the fine details would be negotiated within letters, from edits to publication, and into its long life beyond.
Ultimately, the book would put Ferlinghetti on trial for obscenity — and of course it would forever alter the landscape of poetry. A candid round of letters between the two underscores what letters can do best: give space to explore a difficult topic and time to absorb, compose and respond. These letters and journals reveal otherwise.
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But more importantly, they underscore the cost of making a choice and taking a firm stand over the very-long haul. It keeps getting better and better, clearer. Fine articulation, volume, modulation and power. Percy Bysshe Shelley in particular was deeply interested in politics, coming early under the spell of the anarchist views of William Godwin , whose Enquiry Concerning Political Justice had appeared in Despite his grasp of practical politics, however, it is a mistake to look for concreteness in his poetry, where his concern is with subtleties of perception and with the underlying forces of nature: his most characteristic images are of sky and weather, of lights and fires.
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His poetic stance invites the reader to respond with similar outgoing aspiration. It adheres to the Rousseauistic belief in an underlying spirit in individuals, one truer to human nature itself than the behaviour evinced and approved by society. In that sense his material is transcendental and cosmic and his expression thoroughly appropriate. Possessed of great technical brilliance, he is, at his best, a poet of excitement and power.
John Keats , by contrast, was a poet so sensuous and physically specific that his early work, such as Endymion , could produce an over-luxuriant, cloying effect. His superb letters show the full range of the intelligence at work in his poetry.
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Having thrown down the gauntlet in his early poem English Bards and Scotch Reviewers , in which he directed particular scorn at poets of sensibility and declared his own allegiance to Milton, Dryden, and Pope, he developed a poetry of dash and flair, in many cases with a striking hero. The gloomy and misanthropic vein was further mined in dramatic poems such as Manfred and Cain , which helped to secure his reputation in Europe, but he is now remembered best for witty, ironic , and less portentous writings, such as Beppo , in which he first used the ottava rima form.
The easy, nonchalant, biting style developed there became a formidable device in Don Juan and in his satire on Southey, The Vision of Judgment Both his reputation and his mental health collapsed in the late s.
He spent the later years of his life in an asylum in Northampton; the poetry he wrote there was rediscovered in the 20th century. His natural simplicity and lucidity of diction , his intent observation, his almost Classical poise, and the unassuming dignity of his attitude to life make him one of the most quietly moving of English poets. Another minor writer who found inspiration in the 17th century was George Darley , some of whose songs from Nepenthe keep their place in anthologies.
This was followed in by the more substantial Records of Woman. The death of Tobias Smollett in brought an end to the first great period of novel writing in English. It is possible to suggest practical reasons for this year partial eclipse. The war with France made paper expensive, causing publishers in the s and early s to prefer short, dense forms, such as poetry.
It might also be argued, in more broadly cultural terms, that the comic and realistic qualities of the novel were at odds with the new sensibility of Romanticism. But the problem was always one of quality rather than quantity. Flourishing as a form of entertainment, the novel nevertheless underwent several important developments in this period. One was the invention of the Gothic novel.
Another was the appearance of a politically engaged fiction in the years immediately before the French Revolution. A third was the rise of women writers to the prominence that they have held ever since in prose fiction.
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Novels of this kind were, however, increasingly mocked in the later years of the 18th century. The comic realism of Fielding and Smollett continued in a more sporadic way. John Moore gave a cosmopolitan flavour to the worldly wisdom of his predecessors in Zeluco and Mordaunt Fanny Burney carried the comic realist manner into the field of female experience with the novels Evelina , Cecilia , and Camilla Characters would respond with terror to extraordinary events, and readers would vicariously participate.
Vulnerable heroines, trapped in ruined castles, are terrified by supernatural perils that prove to be illusions.