John Betjeman

John Betjeman

Dennis Brown
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Author:  Dennis Brown
Condition:  New
Format:  Paperback
Pages:  128
Publisher:  Northcote House Publishers Ltd
Year:  1999
ISBN:  9780746308950

Sir John Betjeman remains the most popular English poet of today. He has been termed a 'national teddy bear', and some commentary has addressed his work inrather such terms. However, it is evident that most of his key themes - the spirit of place (or 'place-myth'), mundane lives ('petit recits') or historical continuity (the 'presence of the past') - have specific relevance to postmodern and, especially, environmental concerns. Dennis Brown's book assesses Betjeman's contribution in the light of this, emphasising its ironic self-reflexivity, its rendering of Englishness and a 'soft' masculinity, and its ecumenical Christian tolerance. The popularity of Betjeman's lyrics, and his verse-autobiography Summoned by Bells, is considered as indicative of Britain's post-imperial self-revaluation. It is shown how the poet's technique offers an accessible alternative to more complex neo-modernist poetics. Overall, the book stresses Betjeman's contemporaneity, and his relevance to an era of 'contingency, irony, and solidarity'.