Strange Likeness provides the first full account of how Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) was rediscovered by twentieth-century poets, and the uses to which they put that discovery in their own writing. Chapters deal with Ezra Pound, W. H. Auden, Edwin Morgan, and Seamus Heaney. Stylistic debts to Old English are examined, along with the effects on these poets' work of specific ideas about Old English language and literature as taught while these poets were studying the subject at university. Issues such as linguistic primitivism, the supposed 'purity' of the English language, the politics and ethics of translation, and the construction of 'Englishness' within the literary canon are discussed in the light of these poets and their Old English encounters. Heaney's translation of Beowulf is fully contextualized within the body of the rest of his work for the first time.
`Review from previous edition a groundbreaking study'
John Niles, Contemporary Literature
`Jones has an eye and an ear for the clever locution... reading this book [is] a delight.'
M.J. Toswell, Medieval Review
`Jones convincingly argues that Old English poetry constitutes a 'shadow tradition' that has exerted a unique and hitherto unacknowledged influence on twentieth-century poetry.'
Forum for Modern Language Studies
`The discussions of textual influence which form the heart of the book are both scrupulously attentive and vigorously assertive, and there are some beautifully considered close readings here, with extensive attention given to language and metre...All those interested in the relationship between medieval and twentieth-century literature (and perhaps some who are not) should read it.'
Conor McCarthy, Medium Aevum
`The book rests on a solid base of hard-won data ...astute... witty ... lucid'
Seamus Perry, English
`...learned, energetic and penetrating... Strange Likeness is a triumph: witty, imaginative and learned. No-one has written so well on Heaney's Beowulf, and scholars of twentieth-century poetry will have much to learn from the whole volume.'
Heather O'Donoghue, Review of English Studies
`vigorous and engaging...One of the major strengths of Jones's book is the detail with which he supports Pound's claim that the forging of a new tradition lay in the reworking of an old one.'
Professor John Corbett, Translation and Literature
`In his impressive elucidation of the Old English verse features which Pound carries through to his 'Saxonist prosody', Jones makes a hefty, lasting contribution to our enjoyment of parts of Pound's sharply sensory, taut and restrained free verse... [Jones's book] is erudite and deeply informed, drawing on years of research and reflection... intellectually convincing, while most valuable, perhaps, for its astute and responsive treatment of particular poems.
Strange Likeness has stimulated my own search for finds: among the four major poets Jones looks at closely, in the books of those he glances at in passing, and among those younger generations to whom Pound, Auden, Morgan and Heaney hand on both models to follow and spurs to creativity.'
Anthony Moore, Essays in Criticism
`On each reading of Chris Jones' immensely scholarly and beautifully written monograph, I have found new subtly interwoven critical motifs in his work, real strengths in his refreshingly direct response through close readings to the words and sounds of twentieth-century poetry and the manner in which poets such as Pound, Morgan, Auden and Heaney demonstrate what Jones describes as "an enormous transfer of poetic energy from Old English" into
twentieth-century poesis. Jones has fashioned an important book that rewrites crucially important, yet often wilfully neglected, aspects of the history of twentieth-century vernacular poetics in these islands. It represents an outstanding critical achievement.'
Professor John Thompson, Queen's University, Belfast
`...informative and useful... detailed and informative ... a wonderful tool for teaching.'
Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland
Introduction: Whose Poetry is Old English Anyway?
1: 'Ear for the sea-surge': Pound's Uses of Old English
2: Anglo-Saxon Anxieties: Auden and 'the Barbaric Poetry of the North'
3: Edwin Morgan: Dredging theWhale-Roads
4: Old English Escape Routes: Seamus Heaney - the Caedmon of the North
Conclusion: Old English - A Shadow Poetry?
Appendix on Old English Metre