In the Circumstances is a study of the way people other than their authors contribute to poems. Discussing work by Wordsworth, Browning, Hardy, Pound, Eliot, Montale, Auden, Lowell, and Hill, the book explores how other people's lives and wider circumstances can influence the textual contexts of the poems and be felt within the works themselves. These circumstances emerge in such things as allusions to political events of the day, the inclusion of proper
names and, above all, in the citation or absorption of the words of others. The book asks how the poets themselves worked these circumstances into the fabric of their poems, and what bearing this has on
subsequent acts of revision and translation. These are current issues: for all those involved with poetry, as readers or writers, this book will provide pleasure and stimulus. After his first collection of poetry, Overdrawn Account (1980), Peter Robinson was described by Eric Griffiths in PN Review as `the finest poet of his generation'. His second volume This Other Life (1988) won the Cheltenham Prize. With Marcus Perrymen he has translated
the complete poems of Vittorio Sereni, a selection of which appeared in 1990. A new book of his own poems is due in 1992.
`Translation, forthrightness and literalism are among the themes of Peter Robinson's intriguing new book,...The sheer range of Peter Robinson's work seems to acquit him from charges of normativeness.'
Mark Wormald, Times Literary Supplementu
'Peter Robinson integrates sensitive close readings with political awareness of originating, and changing, context to produce an historically informed criticism more satisfying than some of the work currently passing as such. In the Circumstances is additionally interesting for its subtle restoration of the idea of the poem as a collective act.'
`intelligent and useful...What Robinson has to say about Thomas Hardy and Robert Browning, about Wordsworth's `The Sailor's MOther' or Eliot's The Dry Salvages, is stimulating, lucid, and original...Robinson can bring a very sharp eye to bear on the verbal details of poetic texture, and is adept at highlighting words or constructions in particular poems which carry with them implications for larger patterns of critical understanding of the poet in
Review of English Studies