Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Many people have contributed generously to this book. Initial research was supported by a summer travel grant from .the American Philosophical Society, a month's fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art, and a yearlong fellowship from the John Solomon Guggenheim Foundation. ...

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Introduction: Land and the Nation

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pp. 3-38

The caressing repetition of the closing lines from Hopkins's poem (1879) cherishes an unnamed sweetness in the original place, now preserved only in the poet's words. The poem depicts the violent destruction of a fragile rural spot. The felling of a grove of aspens near Oxford profoundly disturbs Hopkins's sense of place, ...

Part I. Icons and Audiences

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pp. 39-40

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1. Constable: The Making of a National Painter

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pp. 41-64

By the end of the nineteenth century, Constable's paintings had become icons of Englishness, images "regarded as sacred, and honoured with a relative worship or adoration" (as the Oxford English Dictionary defines icons), which traveled well beyond Britain. ...

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2. Out of the Heart of the Country: Tennyson's English Idyls

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pp. 65-100

Tennyson did not have to wait until he died to be recognized as a national poet. From his first publications in the 1830s his name was already under consideration; with the publication of In Memoriam in 1850, his place in a national canon was assured.1 Reviewers, readers, and those responsible for choosing a new poet laureate agreed. ...

Part II. Contested Ground

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pp. 101-102

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3. Cobbett's Radical Husbandry

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pp. 103-140

Constable's icons and Tennyson's Idyls respond to a crisis in rural representation that—according to his accusers—William Cobbett more than any other single man provoked. His writings stridently, insistently disrupt contemporary efforts to retain or reshape the symbolic importance of English land to British national identity. ...

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4. Clare and the Place of the Peasant Poet

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pp. 141-161

In January 1820, nearly two years before Cobbett went out to look for radical husbandry on his rural rides, John Clare published Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery. Clare's was a voice from the country like those Cobbett sought to draw into political discourse: an intelligent, locally rooted rural laborer. ...

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5. Turner's England and Wales

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pp. 162-174

The watercolors that Turner made in the 1820s and 1830s for Picturesque Views in England and Wales reveal a different nation from the one celebrated in his paintings before 1815.1 Those pictures stressed the continuing mythic and practical importance of British agriculture to a nation at war, ...

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6. Brontë's Ghosts

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pp. 175-216

Like Cobbett and Clare, Emily Brontë wrote unforgettably of outsiders: men and women living in local rural places in the north of England, far from centers of modern national power to which they were nonetheless intricately and intimately tied. ...

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Retrospect: Eliot's Risky History

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pp. 217-238

The leap from Brontë's ghosts to Eliot's realist fictions is not as great as it seems. Eliot revisits the rural scenes of the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s; she too wrestles with Wordsworthian burials and otherness at the heart of the country. But she is conscious of the national historian's distance and responsibilities. ...

Notes

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pp. 239-282

Index

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pp. 283-290

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About the Author

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Elizabeth K. Helsinger is a professor in the departments of English and art history at the University of Chicago. ...

Illustrations

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