King's characters are often comprised of two contrasting sides. They are brutal and rough on one side and insightful and funny on the other. After the trilogy, King started working on his fourth novel. Human Punk became, in my opinion, his best book. It's a story about a fifteen-year-old boy, Joe, who grows up in a London satellite town in the late seventies. The book contains many references to punk music. The story then jumps to 1988 where we find Joe traveling back by train from Beijing to London. The last part of the book takes place in 2000 as we are reintroduced to the satellite town of Slough. His latest novel, White Trash, is about nurse working in a new-town hospital.
Punk music and the Skinhead books of Richard Allen influenced King. When he was younger he did read some beat works and liked the fact that the beats were bringing something new to literature, but ultimately preferred writers like Hubert Selby, Jr.
Like Irvine Welsh, Roddy Doyle and Alan Warner, John King is considered a repetitive beat. Steve Redhead introduced the term 'repetitive beat' in his book, The Repetitive Beat Generation. John King is one of the fourteen British fiction writers of the nineties interviewed in this collection that reveals the influence of pop culture and musical experimentation on many popular young novelists.
King still lives in London and he is currently working on a collection of stories and two future novels.
Nobly undaunted to the last
And death has now united him
With ... heroes of the past
No sound of strife disturb his sleep!
Calmly he rests: no human pain
Or high ambition spurs him now
The peaks of glory to attain
(James Joyce, Ivy Day in the Committee Room)
November 22nd, 2002 marks the 9th anniversary of the death of British writer and composer Anthony Burgess. He died on that date, of lung cancer, in a London hospital, leaving behind an output of works that ranged from novels to non-fiction books, from articles to short stories, from an extensive and impressive range of musical compositions to television documentaries and screenplays. Aside from his works, Mr. Burgess is being survived by his family, a whole load of some pretty darn good friends, an inimical force invading his memory in the form of a wanna-be biographer (Andrew Biswell) to whom Burgess would most likely have a Joyce quote to throw at:
May everlasting shame consume
The memory of those who tried
To befoul and smear the exalted name
Of one who spurned them in his pride
(Joyce, Ivy Day in the Committee Room)
For the occasion, Carcanet Press in the UK will release a volume of poetry by Burgess, titled Revolutionary Sonnets, on November 25th, his "official" death date. He would have liked that, especially since the volume's title is the fictitious title of the poetry book of Burgess's character Enderby, whom Burgess had created to showcase his own poetry works that did not find a publisher while he was alive. Burgess wrote "old" poetry, in the style of Hopkins and Shakespeare; he paid great attention to old verse rules and, had he lived some 500 years earlier, he would have probably become one of the greatest poets of that time. Being born, and having lived, when he did, however, he became known primarily for his novels. Now, posthumously, he may find acceptance as a poet as well.
For Anthony Burgess, it was never enough to excel in only one sphere. He was a great writer, but it was one intrinsic merit of the man that he wanted more, much more, than that. He also wanted to succeed as a composer, a journalist, a critic, a translator, a biographer, a scholar, a teacher, a professor. What a steep task for one mere human life span! Some of this he managed to achieve before he ran out of time, while others of his goals are still in the processes of being achieved now, including establishing his standing as a poet and a composer.
It has been said that behind every great man stands a great woman, but in Burgess's case, it should be expanded to saying behind some great men stands an entire army of great people. It is a testimony to the writer's endearing character that, following his death, those he had left behind, wife, friends and son, all began dedicating their lives, or big parts thereof, to keeping his work alive and finishing whatever tasks he had been unable to complete by the time lung cancer cut him down, all too soon.
His widow, Liana, established the Burgess Center at Angers and started holding symposiums there on many aspects of Burgess's life and works. Aided by a former Burgess student, she tracked down his friends and asked them to contribute their articles and research, and not one of them declined. They traveled from all corners of the world to Angers, to attend conferences on Anthony Burgess and his life, to present papers, to partake in panels.
It is as though Joyce had called them all together, in honour of a writer who had fought throughout his life for a deeper understanding, of layman and scholar alike, of Joyce's works:
If they are gone beyond recall let us hope, at least,
that in gatherings ... we shall speak of them with
pride and affection, still cherish in our hearts the
memory of those dead and gone great ones whose
fame the world will not willingly let die
(Joyce, The Dead)
Further, Liana went through all her papers and sold them collectively to the University of Texas at Austin, to give the after-world access to her husband's works. She traveled tirelessly, despite her fear of flying, to be present at symposiums honouring her husband.
Ben Forkner, an American friend of his, edited some unpublished Burgess writings and released them in a book titled One Man's Chorus.
His Goddaughter junked a well-paying job at Penguin publishing to work for free to transcribe Burgess's interviews.
A former student and friend traveled to Brown University in Rhode Island, collected scores of forgotten Burgess music, and helped convince the Brown music scholar Paul Phillips to dedicate himself to categorizing and performing the music of Burgess. As a result, Burgess the composer was adopted by Brown, turning him posthumously into a veritable Ivy Leaguer; he received an entry in the Grove Dictionary of Musicians, and many of Burgess's pieces have already been performed by and at Brown. Phillips traveled to Monaco, on several occasions, for research of his upcoming book on Anthony Burgess the composer, and he joined the Burgess Center as musical advisor as well as becoming the world's foremost Burgess music expert.
As this example shows, even those who did not know him personally became infected by the enthusiasm of those who did, and loved the man all the same, enough to also start working to keep his name alive and ensure that everyone knows, even the generations to follow, that Anthony Burgess was about much more than merely his little novel A Clockwork Orange.
While he tended to portray himself as friendless and often stated that soon after his death he would be forgotten, Anthony Burgess's perception of those around him fell far, far from the truth. He was probably unaware of the love and affection he inspired in those he met, but the aftermath of his departure from this world is a living testimony to it. Touchingly, nobody of the hundreds of people, strewn across several continents, who work on Burgess's work do it for the money. Many of them use their own finances and resources to keep the Burgess archives growing, often putting in long hours after work, until the wee hours of morning, to fit their "Burgess work" around their regular work requirements that earn them a living. They all work for the sake of their love and admiration of the man. They are idealists, perhaps, or literary experts, but they are all people willing to dedicate parts of their lives to Burgess and they share one common denominator, that they were his friends. Not only were they his friends, but they are willing to work for the privilege, meaning, in effect, to put their labour where their mouths are.
Somebody once said: "a man can count himself lucky if, by the time he dies, he has made even a handful of true friends". Anthony Burgess, as the past decade has shown, has done better than that, much better. Perhaps, aside from his literary standing, this is where his true success in life lies. It is only when one's professional success is accompanied by personal success as well that a man, by the end of his life, can say that he has done truly well during his time on earth.
One wonders how many other writers can say of themselves to have, during the course of their lifetimes, made such impact of a personal nature to warrant this extent of dedication to their persona, even a decade after their deaths. This article would not do Burgess justice without evoking Joyce's images often and with gusto, so here is another fitting one:
There is no friends like the old friends, when all is said and done
(Joyce, The Sisters)
It is, perhaps, his ever-growing circle of friends that makes sure Burgess lives on, as he had always wanted. To Burgess, surviving through one's artistic works was a manner of surviving one's own death. He wished for that, but thought he would not achieve it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The year 2002 saw the release of his first biography, a satiric piece of work by a former Punch journalist that Burgess would probably laugh his head off about, and in 2003, a more serious biography of a scholarly nature, by the official biographer, Dr. Andrew Biswell, will follow. There will be books on Burgess's music, there will be the commercial release of his compositions, and Burgess himself is going to "keep writing" as further books are going to be published of his collected writings and correspondence. Other biographies are going to follow. There will be symposiums on Burgess as a Joyce scholar, on Burgess and Shakespeare, on Burgess and Marlowe. Movies are going to be made of his books, some of them based on his own screenplays. Students, perhaps, will one day be writing the Joyce theses that Burgess left behind, in titles only, for their consideration.
Over the next decades, the public is likely to learn more and more fascinating and undiscovered aspects about Burgess the man, Burgess the writer and Burgess the composer.
In many ways, Anthony Burgess gave his life to his reading public, seeking to entertain and educate with his works. He gave from his pen until its final run of ink, and from his vast knowledge until his final breath, writing even on his deathbed, not one, but three books. Joyce is qualified to comment on this, so much better than I am, that I have decided to hand the rest of this passage over to him:
better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and whither dismally with age
(Joyce, The Dead).
At the time of his death, Burgess was, very evidently, still in the full grip of his passion, for language and for his beloved, favourite writers, Joyce and Marlowe, for even as (here is Joyce again)
his soul approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead and he became conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence, and his ... own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling, ...
(Joyce, The Dead)
The shapes he recognized most of all were Joyce and Marlowe, and it was those two, largely, that Burgess packed his final writings with.
He gave freely, not only of his art but also of his time, always willing to dispense generously with advice or a kind word, always concerned that his friends had good careers and were doing well in their lives. Despite his massive work schedule, he found the time to cook for his wife and son, to write long letters, to help friends in need. As Joseph Heller once said of him, Anthony Burgess, as a person, was boundary-less in his generosity, and now history seems to be in the process of showing us that this Manchester writer's generosity paid off because he succeeded in touching his public not only as a writer but as a person as well, a rare feat to achieve for a novelist.
Nine years after his death, Anthony Burgess is probably as alive as ever, at least when it comes to his art. His loss is still felt painfully by those who knew him, including one friend who maintains a library of recent Burgess books without back covers for having removed all the back cover references to his demise, but the pain of their loss has been channelled, by all of the writer's friends with a very few exceptions, into a touching and admirable quest to keep his name and works alive and continue to establish him as one of the greatest English language writers of our time. They don't seem to have much time to hang around, moping, for the works ends when the work ends. Not before and rarely after (Burgess, The Clockwork Testament). Here is Joyce again, speaking on behalf of all of them:
There are always sadder thoughts that will recur
to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes,
of absent faces that we miss here tonight. Our path through
life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to
brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go
on bravely among the living. We have all of us living duties
and living affections which claim, and rightly claim, our
(Joyce, The Dead)
That Burgess, recipient of countless awards such as the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres and the Critic of the Year Award, should have won a Booker, Pulitzer or Nobel, or all three, is increasingly clear to literary critics, but even without those, his name will survive, not only through our generation, but into the coming generations as well. Joyce wants to take over again, so I am going to hand the keyboard to him:
His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow
falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling,
like the descent of their last end, upon all
the living and the dead.
In some ways, Anthony Burgess still continues to be among the former.
Throughout his lifetime, Burgess, who had an endearing sense of British humour, cracked many jokes, some of them understood by the public, and some not. But his biggest joke, though not intended to be one, was probably the, somewhat hasty, statement:
After my death, I will soon be forgotten.
But, to paraphrase from Burgess's own words, in one of his last novels, A Dead Man in Deptford: nine years on, the dagger continues to pierce and it will never be blunted. But that inimitable voice sings on, as loud and clear as it always has, and it will always keep singing.
By writing about the death of his anti-heroine, the complex femme fatale Nicola Six, Samson Young can now 'live' on. He says who lives and who dies and then he gets to write about it. He suddenly feels uplifted and sexually and emotionally resurrected with knowledge of the impending murder. For him there is no question of his involvement in this plot, he must be a part of it somehow so he can feel real again.
Three days in and I am ready-I am ready to write. Hear my knuckles crack. Real life is coming along so fast that I can no longer delay. It's unbelievable. Two decades of fastidious torment, two decades of non-starting, and suddenly I'm ready. Well, this was always destined to be the year of behaving strangely.
I think I am less a novelist than a queasy cleric taking down the minutes of real life. Technically speaking, I am also, I suppose, an accessory before the fact, but to hell with all that for now. I woke up today and thought if London is a spider's web, then where do I fit in? Maybe I'm the fly. I'm the fly."
Is Samson the fly in the spider's web or the spider himself? He could also simply be the web. He has spun a 'story web' to catch the flies (his characters) in order to weave his very own tale as it happens. He plies himself as the 'fly' - the one to be consumed by the story and it's people, and by his consuming disease. He is determined to make his mark in or on the world strong, poignant and real - whether he triumphs over his disease or becomes martyred as the fly who offered himself up to the web and the spider all for a good yarn. This is the most poignant story of his life and he'd kill or be killed for it.
The novelist and short story writer Henry James was born on April 15, 1843 in a house on the north side of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York City. He was born into an almost incredibly intellectual and lofty family: his father was Henry James Sr., a member of the broad intellectual circle that included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and his older brother was the great philosopher and early psychologist William James, whose scientific and metaphysical explorations of human experience would become as influential as Henry's wistful fictional explorations of the same subject.
The James children, including the lively sister Alice, were raised with liberal political views and a fervent scholarly intensity, and were also exposed to the unusual religious teachings of the Swedish mystic Swedenborg. The relationship between William and Henry was respectful but competitive, and from a young age Henry played down his own intellectual promise in deference to the brilliant William, who showed great promise and studied vigorously at Harvard. Henry followed William to Harvard, where he briefly studied law but lost interest, instead traveling to Europe to pursue his growing interest in literature.
He wrote short stories for magazines like the Atlantic Monthly, and his first novel, "Watch and Ward", was published in 1871. This story about a twelve year old girl who is pursued by an amorous older man is an early example of one of James' two great themes, the perilous journey of a promising young woman facing the trials of seduction. "Daisy Miller" would present a flirtatious teenager who makes a tragic mistake with an Italian man in Rome; "Portrait of a Lady" would tell of a charismatic, intelligent and self-assured young woman from Albany who agonizes to make the right choice of a suitor and then makes an utterly wrong choice; "Washington Square" would relate the bitter story of a worthy but unattractive woman who tries for the first time in her life to enter the sweepstakes of romance, only to find all her worst fears quickly realized as everybody in her life, from her father to her confidante to her potential lover, betrays her in turn.
Biographer Leon Edel conjectured that many of these female prototypes were based on a young cousin of Henry's who died, and who he may have felt love for. Because she died and was no longer able to disappoint his romantic fantasies towards her, Edel suggests, James was able to idealize her into a recurring fictional character. Edel's concecture seems to make sense, and the affectionate relationship of Isabel Archer to her own bookish relative Ralph in "Portrait of a Lady" is especially interesting for this reason.
James' other main theme was the plight of the American in Europe. As a young American would-be novelist travelling Europe in pursuit of the legacies of great European writers like Balzac, Dickens and Turgenev, Henry must have felt foolish and outclassed, because he depicted this sense of displacement over and over in novels such as "The Americans", in which a brash new-world businessman becomes entwined in the schemes of a grand but ruined European family, and, again, in "Portrait of a Lady", in which Isabel represents not only female purity endangered by male sexuality, but also American innocence endangered by European deceit. (This odd metaphor, America as a young girl and Europe as a lecherous older man, would later be employed by Vladimir Nabakov in his Jamesian masterpiece "Lolita").
James lived the lucky life of a shy, courteous man born with great gifts -- a supportive family and a brilliant mind. He enjoyed his growing celebrity as a writer, attended salons with old masters like Turgenev, supported young talents like Edith Wharton, and remained an expatriate in London, Paris and around the world for most of his life.
James was one of the last great "pre-modern" writers, and his style can seem quaint and antique next to the aggressive experimentalism of James Joyce, the surrealism of Franz Kafka and the sexual libertarianism of D. H. Lawrence. However, none of these writers can fully approach the pleasurable richness of Henry James' prose, which offers sentences of gem-like clarity and astounding descriptive power. James' psychological focus is also unparalleled. His older brother wrote "The Principles of Psychology", and these same principles were the subject of Henry's stories, in which clashing impulses and societies confront each other and reveal astonishing but subtle truths.
James became increasingly a socialite, but never married, and some biographers consider it likely that he died a virgin (which is more than many of his idealized female characters can say).
Like T. S. Eliot after him, James gradually morphed himself into a member of the British aristocracy. Taking a rare political stance in his final years, he spoke out against America's reluctance to enter the first World War on Britain's side, and became a British citizen. He died soon after, on February 28, 1916. The tiny emotional battles that he chronicled so carefully -- between gullible young women and clever older men, between foolish Americans and dishonest Europeans, between the spiritual ideals and baser impulses of every person on earth -- must have seemed irrelevant to the world in the year of his death, as vast armies massacred each other from opposing trenches across continental Europe. James' literary genius inhabited a world too small for the 20th Century, but as wide and broad as all human experience.
Spurred on by urgent purpose, George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair) began writing the first of two books for which he is most famous, Animal Farm, at the end of 1943 at a critical point during World War Two. The Red Army of the Soviet Union, facing the brunt of Nazi Germany's best fighting forces, was valiantly waging a desperate fight to turn the tide of the war in favor of the Allies, and in doing so, was helping to keep England safe from Hitler. For this, many in the West were grateful. Orwell, however, saw things much differently and he had real reasons for embarking on his beast fable to warn the world. Nevertheless, writing a satire about an ally fighting your enemy during wartime hardly seems like the work of a sane man. But Orwell had good cause and, more than most people, he understood the true nature of Stalin's regime and what it had in store for the West.
Orwell wrote Animal Farm to remind people of the facts not only about Stalin the power-hungry assassin, but about totalitarian regimes everywhere, and how easy it can be for governments to seize power and bend the will of the people to its own purposes.
In late 1943, when Orwell began writing this little book, he was on the sidelines of the war. He had first tried to enter the army but was rejected by his poor health. In spite of his bad health, he was accepted in the Home Guard and worked for a time in the Indian Division of the British Broadcast Service (from which he patterned his experiences and assigned them to one Winston Smith, the protagonist of his other famous book, 1984). Orwell suffered from tuberculosis, which was complicated by a bullet wound to the throat he received in the closing days of the Spanish Civil War. It was during that prelude to the global conflict where Orwell ran directly into the path of the Stalinists.
The poem Kubla Khan first stanza is like a children's story that's been told over a million times before, where, there is no question of what the story is about. Coleridge describes Xanadu as if he had been there, and even though this world is nothing like are own, he describes it as if it were nothing surprising. He states the name of the sacred river, Alpha that flows through it, as if he'd visited it everyday after work to enjoy the weather. In the first stanza he appears to be entirely confident of this beautiful place that he describes. In the second stanza he writes "And here were forests ancient as the hills" as if this place he described was as clear as day to him, and as if this land was stable, calm and never changing. In the first two stanzas his sentences run smoothly and are short and conscious, giving the feeling of tranquility and assuredness.
In the third stanza things begin to change, as a women shouts for her demon lover; the sentences begin to grow increasingly larger, as if things are out of control, as if Coleridge had to keep writing before he forgot the story he had previously known so well.
The third stanza runs by you quickly, reading it almost becomes a task of finding a place to stop and think of the action that had just passed, but you can't because right as you try another action goes whizzing by. Reading this stanza is like trying to keep up with Coleridge in a race. This stanza is almost like Coleridge has got his dream in his head, its fully clear to him but the more he rights, trying to chase his dream, the more it fades so he in turn writes faster, but the faster he writes the faster the dream becomes hazy again.
He describes scene after scene, first with the forming of a Fountain, and then he describes images of falling rocks and finally the path of the river alpha to the colorless sea passing by "wood and dale". The next thing you know ancestral voices are prophesizing war, though were not informed on who, or any other information concerning this event.
In the next couple of stanzas Coleridge changes pace once again, and goes back to a more peaceful great place, as if forgetting fully about the previous event. When the poem is read, you think that after your told about the ancestral voices prophesizing war, that this will be the mood and direction the poem is going to in the next couple of stanzas, but in fact the truth is the opposite. Coleridge reverts back to a peace full serene place where a woman sings and for the first time Coleridge uses the first person. The person speaking, talks of the women's singing as if it's calling him and he gets lost in the song. When you finally adjust to this pace, in the middle of one of these peaceful sentence he writes "beware beware" and all of a sudden a man with wild eyes and floating hair is described. From out of nowhere this man comes and drinks the honeydew and sucks the paradise out of the place. It comes a shock and is rather frightening when you read this stanza because he sets the mood and then it all of a sudden drastically changes and your never quite sure what's going on, and the author makes no attempt to explain as he rushes threw these turn of events. Like in earlier stanzas, his sentences become extremely long, as if he was afraid of loosing this perfect idea that he had on his head, as if he was driven to get it out on paper before it vanished from his memory as dreams often do.
Though the author was not fully successful in writing down this idea that made perfect sense in his head, it is still a great piece of literature, and because of the fact that it wasn't the way he envisioned it. It goes as a lesson for all artists and creators of anything, that it is impossible for things to come out the way you saw them in your head and that, this is a large part of the creative process. People should embrace it, instead of struggling to make something exactly as one saw it and just let it take its own form, which is a truer form than trying to force art.
His childhood years in Yorkshire were certainly an important influence on his literary sensibility. He studied English literature and ancient civilizations at Cambridge University, and in 1956 married the up-and-coming American poet Sylvia Plath. They began their marriage as a team of striving young writers, and enthusiastically supported each other's growing careers. Hughes first book of poetry, 'The Hawk and the Rain', was published in 1956.
The next several years were colored with remorse. The marriage to Plath grew increasingly difficult and surreal as Hughes came to learn the depths of his charismatic wife's mental illness and self-hatred. She finally killed herself, after previous attempts, in 1963. Ted Hughes stopped writing poetry for three years after this.
Later publications include 'The Iron Man', 'Remains of Elmet', 'River' and 'The Crow', all of them treating themes of nature.
Hughes was named Britian's Poet Laureate in 1984, which actually probably didn't help his image as a patriarchal stiff among the growing legions of Sylvia Plath fans. He had kept silent about his legacy as the ill-fated Sylvia Plath's husband for decades, and had often been unfairly blamed for her downfall (the truth is that she had deep emotional problems that were beyond the grasp of her husband, who was a nature poet and not a psychologist). Ted Hughes finally told his side of the story in 1998 in 'The Birthday Letters'. This would turn out to be his last book.
After attending the strangely-named United Services College at Westward Ho! in England, he wrote a short novel, Stalky and Co., about life as a schoolboy. He returned to India at the age of sixteen, where he continued his writing career by working on publications like "The Civil and Military Gazette" and "The Pioneer"
Fame found Kipling at the end of the decade with Barrack Room Ballads. He married Carrie Balestier, the sister of his deceased literary companion Wolcott Balestier, in 1892.
Not long after this Kipling tried for a time to calm his wandering spirit, living with Carrie's parents in Brattleboro, Vermont. The swashbuckling Captains Courageous and the environmentally conscious Jungle Book were written during this time period. These works were popular and he enjoyed the fortunate life of a renowned author.
Kipling and Carrie had three children, Josephine, Elsie and John, the first two born in Vermont and the last in England, where the Kipling family resettled after leaving America. A sad period followed Carrie's premature death in 1901. Kipling continued to write but much of his tireless exuberance was gone.
The delightful Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies was published in 1902. At the request of long time associate Alfred Harmsworth, Kipling then wrote the poem The Absent Minded Beggar, donating the proceeds to aid Britian's Boer War soldiers. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907
The death of Kipling's youngest son, John, at the Battle of Loos in the "war to end all wars" (World War I), proved a source of tragic inspiration. Postwar thoughts and preceding publications were all embraced as part of the massive 1916 Debits and Credits.
As the world changed following the devastation of the Great War, Kipling became increasingly identified with an archaic notion of colonialism and British superiority. He socialized with King George V of England and continued to write reports of imperial matters with a strong bias towards colonialism and the empire's privileged "officer class". These views have caused Kipling to fall strongly out of favor in the more globally aware decades of the 20th Century.
In fact, much of Kipling's writings were meant to express sympathy and respect for the impoverished and suffering masses of Britian's colonial outposts, as well as a love of wilderness. Rudyard Kipling passed away at the age of 70 on Jan 12, 1936.
Written in the last five years of Kipling's life, the autobiography Something of Myself, was published posthumously in 1937. His "Gunga Din" was expanded into a popular movie, "The Jungle Book" became the basis of a beloved Disney movie in the 1960's, and novels like "Kim" continue to be seen as valuable and important documents of a bygone age, despite the fact that Kipling remains strongly out of fashion in our time. Perhaps the words of his simple poem "If" are his most memorable:
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
For example, Robert Southey (1774-1843), who was from England and went to college at Oxford, made friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and made plans with Coleridge to set up a "Utopian Community" along the Susquehanna River in in Pennsylvania in the United States. They never quite finished that goal, even though they married two sisters they had met, and settled to live near each other. There should be more on the subject of this planned community but I have not unearthed it yet.
The fact remains that Coleridge and Southey influenced one another to each accept a point of view that favored the common man, equality of all people, the abolition of slavery, and a poetry that more closely favored the common speach of the day.
I call Robert Southey "the underdog" because his poetry is somewhat harder to "get into" and he has been called, by some, inferior to Coleridge and Wordsworth. The Columbia Encyclopedia say Southey's "reputation as a poet rests upon his friendships with Coleridge and Wordsworth." His writing seems a little old fashion but it reflects modern ideas. Sometimes it conjures visions that are uncomfortable to see:
A poem about slavery Southey wrote:
"High in the air exposed the slave is hung,
To all the birds of heaven, their living food!"
It is a shocking scene but Southey was passionately opposed to slavery as well as war and he does not hold back.
An indication of Southey's popularity during his lifetime is that he was named Poet Laureate in 1813.
The way I discovered Southey was, when I was about five years old, my parents had a set of pseudo-encyclopedias called "The Book of Knowledge" and on the 1950's cover of each hardbound volume was a boy & girl holding hands standing on a streamlined jet-type vessel sailing across continents, characters, physics symbols, and the ocean, and those books held SO much. My favorite pages were where it showed a skeleton, and when you turned the clear page, all the muscles went over the skeleton. Turn the page again and all the vital organs fit in, then the nerves, then the skin.
But one day I chanced to turn the pages FURTHER and I came upon an illustration of and old man sitting in a field holding a skull, with a small boy child in front of him and a small girl child trotting up into the scene. And the poem,
"The Battle of Blenheim" by Robert Southey filled the page below. I must have been barely old enough to understand it - my Mother read it to me and explained it - but the theme of the poem was the futility of war. The old man speaks of a great victory and the little girl says, "But what good came of it?" and the old man says, "That, I cannot tell. But (they say) it was a great victory."
I had almost forgotten about that poem until certain utterances on this website brought it back to me. Robert Southey, one of the Lake Poets.
Most people know of George Orwell for his anti-utopian work 1984 and for the political fable Animal Farm. Few know that he struggled for years to find his voice, living as a vagabond, and writing with small success and in considerable poverty. Like Jack Kerouac he found success late in life and then died not long after. And like Kerouac, he 'dropped' out of society and would often vanish, wandering across the English countryside in his journey of self-discovery. As a voice of dissent during wartime, Orwell's literary attack against oppressive society -- both on the Right, but especially on the Left -- was a precursor to the later Beat Movement that rose to challenge the reigning American culture during the later postwar Eisenhower years.