restricted access “Horn-Handed and Pig-Headed”: British Reception of The Poets and Poetry of America


An almost ideal case study of what happens when an assertion of status meets an act of symbolic violence, the publication of Rufus Griswold’s The Poets and Poetry of America and its review by John Forster in the Foreign Quarterly Review also reveals some of the heuristic limitations of Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction. Due, in part, to key historical and cultural differences between 1960s France and 1840s Anglo-America, Bourdieu’s overdetermined materialism fully accounts for neither the complex of motives perceptible in Forster’s response to Griswold nor the epistemological uncertainty of class, status, and culture in Victorian England.