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George Barker in the 1930s: Narcissus and the Autodidact

George Barker in the 1930s: Narcissus and the Autodidact <jats:p> This article traces the complex and potent role of classical mythology in the poet George Barker's work of the 1930s. Noting Geoffrey Grigson's rage about ‘narcissism’ when reviewing Barker in 1935 it shows why this barb was more perceptive and apposite – in acknowledging an obsession with both a figure and an overtly classical precedent – than the acclamation given to Barker at the time, from T. S. Eliot among others. Central to the article is an exploration of Barker's heterodox version of a common modernist urge: encountering and reworking of fractured myths. For the radical and ever-present notions of uncertainty with which classical tales and Gods are treated in Barker's work is also revelatory of the autodidactic process – incomplete, unstable, and without class-annotated cultural authority – by which he gained such knowledge. The article thus situates Barker within a cultural matrix, and draws renewed attention to the pluralities of poetry within 1930s Britain. </jats:p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

George Barker in the 1930s: Narcissus and the Autodidact

Modernist Cultures , Volume 10 (2): 250 – Jul 1, 2015

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2015
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2015.0111
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

<jats:p> This article traces the complex and potent role of classical mythology in the poet George Barker's work of the 1930s. Noting Geoffrey Grigson's rage about ‘narcissism’ when reviewing Barker in 1935 it shows why this barb was more perceptive and apposite – in acknowledging an obsession with both a figure and an overtly classical precedent – than the acclamation given to Barker at the time, from T. S. Eliot among others. Central to the article is an exploration of Barker's heterodox version of a common modernist urge: encountering and reworking of fractured myths. For the radical and ever-present notions of uncertainty with which classical tales and Gods are treated in Barker's work is also revelatory of the autodidactic process – incomplete, unstable, and without class-annotated cultural authority – by which he gained such knowledge. The article thus situates Barker within a cultural matrix, and draws renewed attention to the pluralities of poetry within 1930s Britain. </jats:p>

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Jul 1, 2015

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