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A Travelling Man: Eighteenth Century Bearings

Donald Davie

Cover Picture of A Travelling Man: Eighteenth Century Bearings
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Edited with an introduction by Doreen Davie

    Donald Davie was a great critic of the eighteenth century, its literature, its religion and politics, its culture in the broadest sense, because he took his creative bearings from it. This is what makes him such an unusual poet; and this is why, when he writes about Berkeley, or Swift, or Goldsmith, Smart, Cowper, Doctor Johnson, the Augustan Lyric, the hymn writers, the Dissenters, diction and irony, he holds our attention the way a great teacher (which he was) can do. For him the act of critical engagement is a challenge to all the vigours of the mind and spirit, and he makes accessible areas of our culture which Romanticism and lazy reading have fenced off as dull, closed areas. The fact is that Romanticism draws its energies not only from reaction against the eighteenth century, but also from a deep engagement with it. Many of his earliest essays, especially those written in Dublin, the city of Berkeley, Goldsmith and Swift, were rooted in the eighteenth century and its abiding gifts.
    Born in Barnsley in 1922, Donald Davie served in the Navy and studied at Cambridge, becoming Professor of English at Essex, and later at Stanford and Vanderbilt. In 1988 he returned to England where he died in 1995. Carcanet's uniform Collected Works of Donald Davie includes Collected Poems (1990), Under Briggflatts ... read more
    Praise for Donald Davie 'He has drawn a map of modernism, starting with Hardy and Pound, that remains one of the definitive outlines of twentieth-century experiment in form and language. The mapmaker, in this case,is a notable locus on the map.'
    Helen Vendler
    `These poems thrive on the restless energy that drives their author on from form to form and place to place. Few poets are more likely than Davie to persuade new readers that poetry can still be a matter of concern and pleasure.'
    Martin Dodsworth, The Guardian
    'In his criticism, he has drawn a map of modernism, starting with Hardy and Pound, that remains one of the definitive outlines of twentieth-century experiment in form and language.'
    Helen Vendler
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