Language and Craft of William Barnes, English Poet and Philologist (1801-1886)

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Study focuses on the way in which Barnes uses and experiments with techniques of meter, rhyme and sound, and shows how an understanding of the language of the poems, not only dialect but also standard English, is essential to appreciating the worth of Barnes’s poetical output. A detailed examination of the way in which he set about composing his verse reveals the careful and self-conscious craftsman who lies behind the superficial oddities that may strike the present day reader.


“The authors’ linguistic focus makes a major contribution to the reader’s penetration of Barnes’ techniques and quality. Indeed, it is a kind of critical analysis which is original, not usually offered in such depth by most literary critics. These critical methods and principles could be utilised in the study of other poets, too, especially those like Clare, whose meanings are, as in Barnes, apparently uncomplicated and transparent.” - Peter Cox

“. . . its strength and distinction lie above all in the depth and extent of its demonstrated knowledge of Barnes’s verse, in the rich profusion of individual passages that it brings forward for detailed examination, and in the powerful sense it provides both of the unexpected range of Barnes’s achievement and the long-term persistence of his central themes. It will stand as in every sense the fullest study of Barnes the poet yet to be published and as a book that all those interested in Barnes will wish to read and own.” – Michael Millgate

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