The Poet and His Audience

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CUP Archive, 1984 M07 5 - 198 pages
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How far, and in what respects, is a poet's work influenced by the kind of audience for which he writes? The question is crucial to our understanding of how great poems came to be written, yet it has rarely been addressed in a systematic study. In this fascinating and illuminating book Ian Jack has chosen six major poets - Dryden, Pope, Byron, Shelley, Tennyson, and Yeats - and has traced the career of each to discover the nature and the extent of their readers' influence on their poetry. He shows that poets living in different periods and different cultural milieux addressed themselves to very differently constituted audiences (though all tended to have a close circle of highly sensitive friends on whom they could first test their work in private), and indicates how their need to adapt to the prevailing conditions shaped the nature of their poetry.

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Acknowledgements page
No mans slave
Too sincere a poet
The unacknowledged legislator

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About the author (1984)

Ian Jack is professor of English literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, a position he has held since 1976. He was born in 1923 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and graduated from the University of Edinburgh with first class honors in 1946. In 1949, he received a D.Phil. from Merton College, Oxford University. His studies of English literature include Augustan Satire: Intention and Idiom in English Poetry, 1660-1750; The Poet and his Audience; and The Poetical Works of Robert Browning.

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