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'Loitering on the Threshold: Thomas Hood's Comical Communities'

Bradshaw, Michael ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3115-0760 (2019) 'Loitering on the Threshold: Thomas Hood's Comical Communities'. La Questione Romantica, nuova serie, 10 (1-2). pp. 135-146. ISSN 1125-0364

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Abstract

Thomas Hood’s career as a poet, satirist, and editor constitutes a problem of literary history. How and why did an imitator of Keatsian lyric become a writer of cynical grotesque, and then transform again into the beloved poet of social reform, author of “The Song of the Shirt”? Concentrating on two indicative texts, “A Friendly Epistle to Mrs Fry, in Newgate” (1825) and “Ode to Mr Malthus” (1832), this article attempts to reconcile some of the generic contradictions in Hood’s writing through the idea of community, and symbolic thresholds of communities. Hood uses the ironic interrogation of contemporary celebrities and worthies in his ‘odes and addresses to great people’ to seek the sympathy of a sceptical, politically non-aligned readership. Even as Hood remains ironically aloof from the causes and allegiances of the political world, he is actively constructing a sceptical community with his readers, through the laughter generated in his writing. In doing so, Hood locates himself as author on the uncommitted threshold of the causes and institutions of social reform. Full-blooded allegiance to any cause or movement, symbolised by the act of donning colours or wearing a badge, would lead to cant and conflict. The community Hood seeks to join is not one defined by political or social causes, but the threshold community of sceptical laughter which was his emerging readership.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: Thomas Hood, Romantic poetry, comic poetry, readership, community, satire, genre
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions (2019 onwards) > College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
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Depositing User: Michael Bradshaw
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 10:33
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2019 14:25
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/8453

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