This chapter tackles issues of place in the self-presentation and critical reception of John Clare, and pursues it across a number of axes. The argument centres on the placing of Clare both socio-economically and ‘naturally’, and limitations exerted upon perceptions of his work. Interrogating criticism this chapter finds a pervasive awkwardness especially in relation to issues of class and labour. It assesses the contemporary ‘placing’ of Clare, and seemingly unavoidable insensitivities to labour and poverty in the history industry, place-naming, and polemical ecocriticism. It assesses the ways Clare represents place – in poverty, in buildings, in nature – and, drawing on Michel de Certeau, considers the tactics Clare uses to negotiate his place. It pursues trajectories to ‘un-place’ Clare: the flight of fame in Clare’s response to Byron; and the flight of an early poem in songbooks and beyond, across the nineteenth century.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of English and Modern Languages
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