Georgianism then and now : a recuperative study
The thesis attempts to revise our view of Georgian poetry, and thus to rescue it from the critical disregard and disdain it has suffered since the 1930s. Georgian poetry will be redefined as a strong traditional poetry contemporaneous with, and yet different from, literary Modernism. An historical overview of the critical literature from the 1920s onwards will reveal the original co-existence of those now known as 'Georgians' and 'Modernists', stress their mutual break with Edwardian conventions, and will sketch the process by which Georgianism and Modernism became oppositional. Georgianism will be re-evaluated as a brave and creditable attempt to continue the Romantic and humanistic impulse in poetry at a time when younger and ostensibly more radical writers were forsaking it for the values of Modernism. The thesis will further suggest that the Georgian poets had a rather more socially aware and progressive agenda than many of the fledgling Modernists. Georgian poetry is reread, therefore, in order to bring out, as major themes, its concern with the poor and with work, with the changing environment of the nation, with the position of women in Georgian society, and with its response to the First World War. This reappraisal will lead to the contention that Georgianism should not be viewed as a low point in British poetry, but instead as supplying the formal foundations and political sensibility which mark the achievement of Great War poetry. While the thesis is careful not to overbid its claims for reviewing the Georgians' own achievement (especially in respect of their relative lack of formal experimentation compared to the Modernists), it hopes nevertheless to persuade its readers that the poets of 'Liberal England' had a more humane and realistic vision of their world than they have hitherto been credited with.