20th Century reemerging

John Clare was relatively forgotten in the 19th century. But the interest on him reemerged in the 20th century.

He is now regarded as one of the major English Romantics. And as it is very well explained in the Romantic Biography, his fame was not so different from a contemporany pop group, “he was “created” by the media for the market. And when the time came for a change of fashion, he was quickly forgotten, just as each successive new pop sensation quickly becomes yesterday’s news.” That’s why one of his vey earlyiest pulication was signed “A Northamptonshire Pheasant“.

“Clare’s image as first “peasant”, then “madman” was not something of which he was in control.(…) Clare’s story, then, is one of perpetual “re-fashioning”. First there was tha peasant image projected by Gilchrist, Drury and Taylor. Later there were the diagnoses of the alienists.(…) Then there were the reincarnations in biographies and editions: first, Frederick Martin’s portrait of a tragic hero, brought down by the fatal flaw of drink; later, Arthur Symon’s crucial revision, further developed by Edmund Blunden, in which madness supposedly liberated Clare into a great poetry; and most recently, we have had the story, grounded on a theory of textual primitivism, of a man whose wings were trimmed by his editors.” Here the author clarifies that he doesn’t mean that this topic of the editors was not true, ifnot he is saying it in the sense of “re-fashioning”.

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