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Modern English War Poetry

Tim Kendall's study offers the fullest account to date of a tradition of modern English war poetry. Stretching from the Boer War to the present day, it focuses on many of the twentieth-century's finest poets - combatants and non-combatants alike - and considers how they address the ethical challenges of making art out of violence. Poetry, we are often told, makes nothing happen. But war makes poetry happen: the war poet cannot regret, and must exalt at, even the most appalling experiences. Modern English War Poetry not only assesses the problematic relationship between war and its poets, it also encourages an urgent reconsideration of the modern poetry canon and the (too often marginalised) position of war poetry within it. The aesthetic and ethical values on which canonical judgements have been based are carefully scrutinized via a detailed analysis of individual poets. The poets discussed include Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Wilfred Owen, Charlotte Mew, Edward Thomas, Ivor Gurney, W. H. Auden, Keith Douglas, Ted Hughes, and Geoffrey Hill.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ; 1. Thomas Hardy's Witness ; 2. Rudyard Kipling's Dress Parade ; 3. Wilfred Owen's Concern ; 4. In Pursuit of Spring: Edward Thomas and Charlotte Mew ; 5. Ivor Gurney's Memory ; 6. W. H. Auden's Journeys to War ; 7. Sky-Conscious: Poetry of the Blitz ; 8. The Vision of Keith Douglas ; 9. Self-Elegy: Keith Douglas and Sidney Keyes ; 10. Fighting Back Over the Same Ground: Ted Hughes and War ; 11. Geoffrey Hill's Debts ; 12. The Few to Profit: Poets Against War

About the Author

Tim Kendall was born in Plymouth in 1970. As well as founding and editing the international poetry magazine, Thumbscrew, he has published critical studies of Paul Muldoon and Sylvia Plath. His first book of poetry, Strange Land, was published by Carcanet in 2005. He is Professor of English Literature at Exeter University.


Kendall's glosses, his gatherings from correspondence, memoir and criticism, his own judgements, urgings and insistences, and the energy of those convictions and his prose are most often impressive. Steven Isenberg, Essays in Criticism

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