In this perceptive and original study of one of the most popular of English poets, Douglas Kerr has written the life of Wilfred Owen's language.The book explores the meaning in Owen's life of the family, the Church, the army, and English poets of the past. It examines the language of these four communities, and shows how their discourses helped to mould the poet's own. The language in which Owen's extraordinary poems and letters are written was learned
in and from these communities which shaped his short career. But there were times too when he hated each of them. As Douglas Kerr shows, much of the power of Owen's writing derives from his desire to
transform the communities which formed him.Accessible and lucid, and informed by the insights of recent theory, Wilfred Owen's Voices throws important new light on the best-known of the English war poets, and on both the cultural history and intense personal drama to be read in his work.
`Kerrr is a relative newcomer, but his lines of thinking are so freesh, his readings so thoroughly versed in previous criticism, his analyses so carefully prepared,and his results so convincing, that he vaults himself into contention for the Wilfred Owen Poetry Reading Championship at Dunsden in 1998....Kerr's readings are full of lovely details...his discussions of individual poems have raised the standard for all readings of Owen...By the thoughtful and
intelligent detailing of Wilfred Owen's voices, Kerr establishes himself as an individual talentt in the great tradition of Owen critics, and, more importantly, establishes Owen as a modernist writer
whoseee extraordinary authority steems from more than his authentic death.'
Review of English Studies
'This new book has something fresh to say about the life and work of Wilfrid Owen ... Kerr's meticulous approach gives us a map of Owen's language and the communities from which it sprang. In doing so he has enlarged our understanding of Owen's life and work.'
Charles Styles, Border Counties Advertiser
'This is an absorbing book, detailed and often illuminating ... intelligent, scholarly approach.'
Roderic Dunnett, Church Times
`Douglas Kerr provides a careful and scholarly study of the `discursive fields' from which Owen's poetry is forged...the middle two parts of the book on `Church' and `Army' are particularly valuable in providing historical-linguistic contextualization for Owen's poetry. Here Kerr has been assiduous in researching documents that relate to Owen's experience...We are given valuable histories and historical contextualization in the book...'
Modern Language Review
`Stallworthy and Hibberd provide important information for which we must all be grateful; Kerr makes no attempt to hide his reliance on both writers.'
Notes and Queries
`excellent...Kerr immerses the reader in the languages of Owen's environment and reading, demonstrating how closely interwoven were his senses of various kinds of discourse and of particular speech communities.'
English Studies Vol 75 no 6
Introduction. Part 1 Family: hearth and home; fathers and sons; brothers in arms; Susan. Part 2 Church: praying together; drink and the devil; the work of the ministry; troublesome voices. Part 3 Army: the disciplines of the wars; Wilfred Owen's England; morale and breakdown; officers and others. Part 4 Poetry: a history of poetry; a modern voice; English elegies; soldiers and poets.