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Taking it like a man

ISBN-0 7190 3834 0

Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, and Rupert Brooke represent to many the epitome of the British spirit at war. Their poetry and their lives symbolise not only the horror of war but also its glory.

In Taking it Like a Man, Adrian Caesar challenges our conventional readings of their work and looks at each poet through their shared ideological inheritance: Christianity, romanticism, imperialism. The relationship between suffering and sexuality reveals a complex and disturbing side to their work – and also to the cultural identity of Britain during the First World War.

In this lucid book, Adrian Caesar offers teachers and students a fresh insight into the lives and work of four major writers and into the survival of attitudes that can perceive the highest spiritual value emerging from the most destructive of human endeavours.

Praise For Taking it like a man

This is an excellent and important critical study of First World War poetry, which strips away years of critical varnish to offer fresh and provocative insights into a much discussed and over-generalised subject.' Martin Taylor in English (UK)43 (175) Spring, 1994

'. . .  Caesar’s primary theses are both original and compelling . . .one acknowledges always the presence of a lively and critical intelligence in pursuit of a cogent argument. For those specifically interested in the poetry of World War I, and for those with a general interest in pre-war and wartime English culture, this book is a must read.'  Matthew C. Stewart in College Literature (USA) 22, 1995.

'Taking it Like a Man . . . is an anguished work of high intelligence which . . .enjoins us more fundamentally to review the complacent ways in which we have come to think of the poetry of the Great War.' Peter Pierce in the Canberra Times 9, October, 1993.

Dividing Lines

Dividing Lines provides a lively a refreshing discussion of young English poets, their beliefs and their poetry, written in that most troubled and mythologised of decades, the 1930s.

Adrian Caesar challenges previous literary histories of the decade by making hitherto unexplored connections between the class and educational backgrounds of the poets concerned, the style in which they wrote, and the ideological implications of their poetry.

Dividing Lines provides a lucid and readable account suitable for students, teachers, and anyone interested in the literature, history and politics of the 1930s.

Praise For Dividing Lines

‘A thoughtful and richly informed study of British poetry, class and ideology in the 1930s, which incisively studies the relationships that prevailed between poetry and a wide field of social issues including education, class, and “culture”. . . .’

-- B. Wallenstein Choice (Chicago) November, 1991.

‘Caesar’s scholarship . . .greatly contributes to our understanding of the period . . .What also emerges strongly from this book – connected with this discussion of poetry and class – are the ideological elements involved in the creation of a literary establishment. Here in its eloquent denunciation of the ways that some kinds of writing acquire a privileged status while others are excluded, Dividing Lines has significance that extends beyond its period’

-- Ian Gregson Times Literary Supplement Nov 1st, 1991.

Kenneth Slessor

ISBN-0 19 553421 2

Kenneth Slessor has long been hailed as one of Australia’s finest and most important poets. His work has been studied by generations of schoolchildren and university students. Critical approbation has been long-lived and widespread. Bu the terms of this praise have often echoed Slessor’s own aesthetic principles – that poetry transcends social and political issues; that poetry is imbued with magic; that poetry should deal with verities assumed to be eternal.

This book offers a contemporary reading in plain language of Slessor’s poetry and poetics – a reading which concentrates on social and political meanings rather than aesthetic considerations, thereby offering a challenging and stimulating argument accessible to a wide range of readers.

Praise for Kenneth Slessor

'Caesar has brought a new perspective to Slessor’s poetry in stressing the political nature of his subject. The argument of the book is extremely carefully laid out, and the writer has gone to great pains to make his case as coherent and as persuasive as possible. He writes with the same passion and iconoclasm as he does of British poetry of the same perios, and he brings to Australian writing a tradition of criticism which is not heard as often as it might be. . .

            . . .as a re-evaluation of our ‘best’ poet, Caesar’s book is refreshing. It is written with commitment out of a compulsion to say something necessary and important about both Slessor and Australian society and its intellectual traditions.' Julian Croft, Australian Literary Studies 17 (3) 1996

 'In Kenneth Slessor, Adrian Caesar resurrects his author to press questions he feels have been evaded by preceding commentators: how truly a modernist was Slessor, how readily can the poet be separated from the journalistic hack and why did he abandon poetry? Caesar’s consciously provocative and closely interwoven answers involve both fresh readings of familiar poems and re-contextualisations of them in terms of Slessor’s aesthetic and political preferences.' Brian Kiernan, The Year’s Work in English Studies (New Literatures in English) 1996.

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