Poetry of Opposition and Revolution is an important new study of the relation between poetry and politics in English literature from Dryden to Wordsworth. Building on his argument in Poetry and the Realm of Politics: Shakespeare to Dryden (also available from OUP), Howard Erskine-Hill reveals that the major tradition of political allusion is not, as has often been argued, that of the political allegory and overtly political poems, but rather a more shifting and less
systematic practice, often involving equivocal or multiple reference. Drawing on the revisionist trend in recent historiography, the book offers new and thought-provoking readings of familiar texts. Dryden's Aeneid version and Pope's Rape of The Lock are shown to belong not just to contemporary
convention, but to a more widespread and older style of envisioning high politics and the crises of government. The early books of The Prelude can be seen to show marked political features; reflections of the 1688 Revolution are traced in The Rape of the Lock; and a Jacobite emotion is identified in The Vanity of Human Wishes. Taking issue with recent New Historicist Romantic criticism, the concluding chapters argue that what have seemed to many to be traces of covert political displacement or
erasure in Wordsworth are in fact marks of a continuing political preoccupation, which found new forms after the collapse of the Enlightenment programme into the Jacobin terror.
`One of the many virtues of Howard Erskine-Hill's Poetry and Revolution (the sequel to his Poetry and the Realm of Politics) is the care with which it reconstructs these climates of interpretation'
Times Literary Supplement
`This is an important and overdue project ... a developed and sustained argument about the nature of political reference in literature that is attuned to recent developments in historiography ... These books will serve to introduce undergraduates to some of the complexities of reading literature politically; and offer literary historians a strong reading of early-modern political allusion.'
The Times Higher Education Supplement
`He more that succeeds, for he not only provides illuminating criticism of Wordsworth, Johnson, Pope and Dryden, tracing their engagement with political issues at the levels of allusion, imagery and form, but also revises our understanding of their relationship to each other and to classical poetry. ... Not the least of its virtues is the sense it gives the reader that a genuine exploration of poetry is taking place, the result of which has not been
determined in advance by a pre-existing critical position.'
British Association for Romantic Studies Bulletin and Review, issue no.12, June 1997
`an important and overdue project ... These books will serve to introduce undergraduates to some of the complexities of reading literature politically; and offer literary historians a strong reading of early-modern political allusion.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
`It is one of the undoubted merits of Howard Erskine-Hill that many of his literary works are accessible to the historian, and his elucidation of difficult poetry can help the historian by opening up a better understanding the past and of how past events and issues were understood by some of the most gifted contemporary poets. This handsomely produced and gracefully written book is aimed at literary scholars, but historians will also learn much from
H.T. Dickinson, University of Edinburgh, The Historical Association 1997