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Donald Davie and Englishness

Davies, W. (2019) Donald Davie and Englishness. The Review of English Studies, 70 (294). pp. 332-353. ISSN 0034-6551

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/res/hgy106


This article examines the importance of ‘Englishness’ as a thematic element in the poetry and criticism of Donald Davie (1922–1995). Beginning with a consideration of Davie’s position writing in the aftermath of the Second World War and the decline of the British Empire, the article argues that Davie capitalizes on an internationalist sensibility otherwise rejected by many of the post-war writers of the Movement with whom he was initially linked. In so doing, this article traces a tension in Davie’s writing between, on the one hand, a resistance to the parochialism and insularity he saw emerging in post-war England, particularly in the poetry of Philip Larkin, and, on the other, the affirmation of a living ‘Englishness’ that he explores through England’s provincial regions and, at times more problematically, the nation’s imperial past. This is detailed further through Davie’s later poetry, particularly the long poem England and the collection The Shires, in which the relation between landscape and history become increasingly significant for Davie’s poetics. By framing Davie in terms of his negotiation of ‘Englishness’, this article locates Davie as a significant poetic commentator during the turbulent changes that England underwent following the Second World War.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:85388
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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