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The Eighteenth-Century Hymn in England


  • 8 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 192 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.294 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521039567)

Donald Davie is the foremost literary critics of his generation and one of its leading poets. His career has been marked by a series of challenging critical interventions. The eighteenth century is the great age of the English hymn though these powerful and popular texts have been marginalized in the formation of the conventional literary canon. These are poems which have been put to the text of experience by a wider public than that generally envisaged by literary criticism, and have been kept alive by congregations in every generation. Davie's study of the eighteenth-century hymn and metrical psalm brings to light a body of literature forgotten as poetry: work by Charles Wesley and Christopher Smart, Isaac Watts and William Cowper, together with several poets unjustly neglected, such as the mysterious John Byron.

• Donald Davie is a big name on both sides of the Atlantic, known as both a poet and a senior critic of English poetry • Topic has a potential general appeal - many of the hymns discussed are well known and loved by congregations throughout the world • An innovative study which reclaims an important area of poetry which has been neglected by literary criticism


List of illustrations; Introduction; 1. Dr Byrom of Manchester, FRS; 2. Isaac Watts: the axiomatic hymns; 3. Watts's atrocity hymns; 4. The 'Ending Up' of Isaac Watts; 5. The carnality of Charles Wesley; 6. Psalmody as translation; 7. Inwardness and the dictionary; 8. Christopher Smart and English rococo; 9. Smart's elegance; 10. The author of 'Amazing Grace'; 11. William Cowper and the plain style; Conclusion; Index.

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