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ELT 46 : 1 2003 Some errors in the explanations ought to be corrected in a second printing : Sean O'Casey was born in 1880, not "1884" (822, the correct year is given on the following page); the location of Co. Sligo as "north of Galway " (832) is at least imprecise; Killala is not a "city" (835); and the use of the accent in Irish words is inconsistent (cf. "cailin," 832; "cipin," 840; "poitin," 842; "Tain," 922). Printing errors—in a work that must have been a nightmare to the proofreader—are few and far between: "Cahirsiveen " (828), "Foster, Modern Ireland" (859), "Balleymoney" (901), 'Teat's" (912). In the list of abbreviations, Allan Wade is cited as "Allen" (15). Finally, the editors are specially to be commended for conceding in their notes that certain words or phrases are "untraced"; to the reader thus openly admitting the failure to identify source or meaning is much more helpful than silently leaving a line unexplained. Heinz Kosok ______________ Universität Wuppertal Modern Poetry Robert Crawford. The Modern Poet: Poetry, Academia, and Knowledge since the 1750s. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. χ + 296 pp. $65.00 THIS BOOK'S MAIN TITLE issues a kind of challenge. Where and when did the modern poet come into being? In a sense, of course, you might as well debate the length of a piece of string. But if you can prevail on people to give an answer (and I have been offered Baudelaire, Byron, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Pound in recent days), it will be one that carries an implicit theory of literary history in its pocket. Readers of this journal might want to locate the birth of the modern poet in the Transition period between 1880 and 1920. Robert Crawford's suggestion is rather unexpected. His modern poet comes into being late in the 1750s in Scotland with the events leading to the publication of translations of the poems of Ossian. The theory of literary history that supports this apparently eccentric claim is pointed to in the book's subtitle, "Poetry, Academia, and Knowledge since the 1750s." In an early chapter Crawford retells the story of the Ossian phenomenon , crucial to the formation of English-language and European romanticism and in particular, he argues, to the establishment of an idea of "the modern poet" which is essentially still with us in the world of the tenured professor-poet and the creative writing boom. Rich in detail, his argument is simple in outline. In the years after the Jacobite defeat, Ossian emerged as the authentic voice of a traditional "primitive" native 92 BOOK REVIEWS culture in Scotland, the indigenous wildman of the highlands. (Crawford is not interested here in the question of whether the Ossian poems were or were not "forgeries.") But his emergence was mediated by the institutions of cultural modernity—the historical and linguistic scholarship , the criticism, dissemination and formation of taste of those great strongholds of the Enlightenment, the Scottish universities of Edinburgh , Glasgow and St Andrews. In particular Crawford points to the importance of one of Ossian's great promoters, Hugh Blair, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres at Edinburgh University. It was in Scottish universities that "English literature" was first taught, in a curriculum that—as Crawford notes approvingly—included composition, creative writing, criticism and critical theory, and it was in this milieu, combining a high degree of sophistication with an enthusiasm for the Ossianic wild and primitive, that the idea of the modern poet was formed. From this academic, critical and publishing activity emerged the idea of a modern literary canon (a standardising process that Crawford understands in the context of an ambient industrialisation and the production of "uniformity ") though this canon in time worked to exclude Scottish writing and Scots English. Links between academia and poetry have ever since conditioned how the figure of the poet has developed (replacing, he might have added, links between poetry and the court in the premodern ), and this formulation in turn has shaped reading and writing. The evolution of modern poetry is marked by "a continuing reinvention of ways to fuse imaginative wildness and scholarly education." While modern writing still romantically honours the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 92-95
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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