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Old Challenges and New Horizons in English and American Studies


Edited By Anna Walczuk and Wladyslaw Witalisz

The volume is a collection of essays representative of the wide focus of research encouraged and coordinated by the Polish Association for the Study of English (member of ESSE). Articles selected for the volume deal with works of poetry, drama and prose written in English and invite the reader to view them in the context of intercultural and intertextual discourse. Authors discussed in the articles include: John Redford, William Shakespeare, John Dryden, James Macpherson, John Clare, Anna Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, George Gordon Byron, Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, T.F. Powys, Patrick White, Brian Friel, Brendan Behan, Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Chaim Potok, Ian McEwan, Kiran Desai, and Sarah Kane. In many of the essays the reader will notice a meta-discursive argument on the interplay between tradition and innovation in English studies.
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Whose Clare? The Peasant Poet’s Own Manuscript Versions of His Poems vs. Contemporaneous and Recent Editorial and Publishing Practice


Jacek Wiśniewski

Szkoła Wyższa Psychologii Społecznej, Warszawa

The question in the title of my paper, Whose Clare? is often asked by Clare scholars. It does not enquire about the poet’s nationality or his belonging to a particular literary tradition other than simply English, as is the case of Robert Burns or Dylan Thomas. For instance, Paul Chirico’s recent book, John Clare and the Imagination of the Reader, opens with an Introduction entitled ‘Whose Clare?’ (Chirico 2007: 1). It is a question that is quite an obvious one to admirers of Clare’s poetry, or to those who have read one of several literary biographies of the peasant poet, though it is not as simple as it might seem. In the first place, it considers the authenticity of the texts which we find in four 19th-century volumes of Clare’s poems, those published within his lifetime. We read them today and admire the amazing freshness and beauty of Clare’s vision (it is enough to look at Seamus Heaney’s essay “Clare’s Prog” in his collection The Redress of Poetry, or Tom Paulin’s essay “John Clare in Babylon” from his collection Minotaur, or John Ashbery’s essay on Clare in Other Traditions to appreciate the way Clare became a ‘poets’ poet,’ just as much, or perhaps today even more than his contemporary, John Keats). We recognize in Clare’s “nakedness of vision” (the phrase is Ashbery’s) a poet of immediate and spontaneous impressions, a poet...

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