John Clare and Community
If you only have time to read one thing during March - make sure it is Theresa Adams' fascinating study "Representing Rural Leisure: John Clare and the Politics of Popular Culture". In this article Theresa demonstrates how John Clare "shows the reader that leisure (including ballads, stories and customs) builds community horizontally between members of the same class, offering an escape from paternalistic surveillance, and providing what Raymond Williams calls 'a breathing-space, a fortunate distance, from the immediate and visible controls' of and unequal social systems. Customs are not merely entertainment, but an expression of laborers' customary rights, unwritten rules that limit the master's power and grant laborer's standing in the social body."
A careful analysis of some of some of Clare's key poems contrasts his writing with that of Thomson and Bloomfield to reveal the true extent of Clare's originality
Published in Studies in Romanticism, 47 (Fall 2008) 371-392