Cover image for England and Englishness : ideas of nationhood in English poetry, 1688-1900
England and Englishness : ideas of nationhood in English poetry, 1688-1900
Lucas, John, 1937-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Iowa City, Iowa : University of Iowa Press, 1990.
Physical Description:
227 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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PR508.N2 L8 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Examines the notion of Englishness as expressed in poetry from 1688 to 1900. Discusses Pope, Dryden, Goldsmith, Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Browning, Tennyson, and others, exploring how each placed himself in a self-conscious relation to the state and establishment, whether as apologist, outsider, or rebel. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Choice Review

In this fascinating book, Lucas examines the notion of "Englishness" in English poetry from 1688 to 1900. He claims that what unifies Dryden, Pope, Thomson, Gray, Goldsmith, Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, and Hopkins is their need to identify nationhood. Lucas traces the gradual movement away from the idea of England based on the model of the city-state to the retreat-from-city-to-country, which occurred during the Romantic period and argues that Blake was the first writer of modern times to grasp the fact that if nationhood cannot be defined in terms of the city, it cannot be defined at all. He goes on to demonstrate how these poets who tried to write the city out of their accounts of nationhood were unable to produce an image of "England" or "Englishness" that carried authority, even though they claimed authority for themselves. Thus, by the end of the 19th century, the poet's authority had dwindled to the point where it was to be identified with the consolations of withdrawal, and authority was passed to the novelists. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries. -M. S. Johnston, Mankato State University