‘“I should want nothing more”: Edward Thomas and simplicity’

Cuthbertson, Guy (2019) ‘“I should want nothing more”: Edward Thomas and simplicity’. Journal of the British Academy, 7. pp. 89-122. ISSN 2052–7217


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In the years before the First World War, the ‘Simple Life’ became somewhat fashionable, and Edward Thomas (1878–1917) was one of those Edwardians who were attracted to simplicity, both as a way of life and as a way of writing. As a book reviewer and biographer, he greatly admired simplicity in literature (as seen in, among others, William Cobbett, W. H. Davies, J. M. Synge and Robert Frost). His prose moved towards plainness, and his poetry is beautifully simple. This simplicity has been problematic, however. His poetry is unsuited to the decoding and exegesis (which might be suited to Modernism) that universities seek to conduct. Academics studying his poetry have allowed themselves to believe that they have found complexity, hidden beneath super cial simplicity, whereas in fact Thomas is a poet of genuine bareness, clear-as-glass honesty, magical brevity and childlike simplicity. His simplicity has been popular, and seems to suit some 21st-century fashions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: Work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > English
Depositing User: Guy Cuthbertson
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2019 16:20
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2019 16:20
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2975

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