|Dimensions||17 × 24 × 4.5 cm|
Half maroon morocco with green cloth sides and tooling to the spine. Marbled edges and matching end papers. Hand sewn headbands. Front outer joint professionally repaired.
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A good Mid-Victorian rendition of Crabbe’s work
A lovely set of the works of the multitalented poet, surgeon, and clergyman George Crabbe. George Crabbe (1754-1832) is best remembered for his employment of realistic narrative, and for his realist depiction of working- and middle-class people and everyday life. Having apprenticed and trained as a surgeon, Crabbe made the life-changing decision in 1780 to move to London to pursue a career as a poet. Unsurprisingly, this decision caused intense financial turbulence, until Crabbe sent a letter – including several samples of his poetry – to Edmund Burke, who was impressed enough to pledge aid to Crabbe in any way he could. From this time forward, Crabbe found himself comfortably off and in the company of valuable artistic and religious contacts who were able to secure ecclesiastical livings and patronage for the remainder of Crabbe’s life. His most significant works include ‘the Village,’ ‘Poems,’ ‘the Borough,’ ‘Tales,’ and ‘Tales of the Hall.’
George Crabbe (24 December 1754 – 3 February 1832) was an English poet, surgeon and clergyman. He is best known for his early use of the realistic narrative form and his descriptions of middle and working-class life and people. In the 1770s, Crabbe began his career as a doctor’s apprentice, later becoming a surgeon. In 1780, he travelled to London to make a living as a poet. After encountering serious financial difficulty and being unable to have his work published, he wrote to the statesman and author Edmund Burke for assistance. Burke was impressed enough by Crabbe’s poems to promise to help him in any way he could. The two became close friends and Burke helped Crabbe greatly both in his literary career and in building a role within the church.
Burke introduced Crabbe to the literary and artistic society of London, including Sir Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson, who read The Village before its publication and made some minor changes. Burke secured Crabbe the important position of Chaplain to the Duke of Rutland. Crabbe served as a clergyman in various capacities for the rest of his life, with Burke’s continued help in securing these positions. He developed friendships with many of the great literary men of his day, including Sir Walter Scott, whom he visited in Edinburgh, and William Wordsworth and some of his fellow Lake Poets, who frequently visited Crabbe as his guests.
Lord Byron described him as “nature’s sternest painter, yet the best.” Crabbe’s poetry was predominantly in the form of heroic couplets and has been described as unsentimental in its depiction of provincial life and society. The modern critic Frank Whitehead wrote that “Crabbe, in his verse tales in particular, is an important—indeed, a major—poet whose work has been and still is seriously undervalued.” Crabbe’s works include The Village (1783), Poems (1807), The Borough (1810), and his poetry collections Tales (1812) and Tales of the Hall (1819).
Crabbe’s poetry was predominantly in the form of heroic couplets and has been described as unsentimental in its depiction of provincial life and society. John Wilson wrote that “Crabbe is confessedly the most original and vivid painter of the vast varieties of common life that England has ever produced;” and that “In all the poetry of this extraordinary man, we see a constant display of the passions as they are excited and exacerbated by the customs, laws, and institutions of society.” The Cambridge History of English Literature saw Crabbe’s importance to be more in his influence than in his works themselves: “He gave the poetry of nature new worlds to conquer (rather than conquered them himself) by showing that the world of plain fact and common detail may be material for poetry”.
Although Augustan literature played an important role in Crabbe’s life and poetical career, his body of work is unique and difficult to classify. His best works are an original achievement in a new realistic poetical form. The major factor in Crabbe’s evolving from the Augustan influence to his use of realistic narrative was the changing readership of the late 18th–early 19th century. In the mid-18th century, literature was confined to the aristocratic and highly educated class; with the rise of the middle class at the turn of the 19th century, which came with a growing number of provincial papers, the heightening in production of books in weekly instalments, and the establishment of circulating libraries, the need for literature was spread throughout the middle class.
Narrative poetry was not a generally accepted mode in Augustan literature, making the narrative form of Crabbe’s mature works an innovation. This was due to some extent to the rise in popularity of the novel in the late 18th–early 19th century. Another innovation is the attention that Crabbe pays to details, both in description and characterization. Augustan critics had espoused the view that minute details should be avoided in favour of generality. Crabbe also broke with Augustan tradition by not dealing with exalted and aristocratic characters, but rather choosing people from middle and working-class society. Poor characters like Crabbe’s often anthologized “Peter Grimes” from The Borough would have been completely unacceptable to Augustan critics. In this way, Crabbe created a new way of presenting life and society in poetry.
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