10-25 lecture Gibbons

10-25 lecture Gibbons - In order to tackle Cold Comfort...

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In order to tackle Cold Comfort Farm I want to take you back to earlier in the semester and remind you about a couple of the writers we read earlier, and what some of their attitudes were toward the countryside. And I do this because these writers’ characteristic positions are themselves important elements of CCF —indeed, you could almost call them characters. They play a key role in Stella Gibbons’s parody of the rural writing that had become so popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Hardy --detailing superstitions and mores of disappearing peasantry --including darkness, fatalism; endurance as key value --countryside as scene of “Greek tragedy,” full of importance --chronicling effects of approach of modernity Lawrence --primitivist embrace of natural world --connection to man’s own wildness, “blood-consciousness” Both made enormous use of the pathetic fallacy --describing nature as personified, somehow linked to/reflective of/predictive of human emotions (stressing innate connections) --examples: Tess & the springtime; here, parodic exaggeration: porridge (38), sukebind (69-70)
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--sexuality (78, 82-3) But it’s not just these still-read writers she’s addressing— In the years between the time Lawrence started writing and when CCF came out in 1932, a whole spate of rural novels written by people whose names are much less recognizable to us now. These came to be known as “loam and lovechild” writers (nature as wild, rough, yet spiritual and authentic; men and women ruled by natural passions; deep wisdom and dark secrets) --read, of course, by city people nostalgic for what they perceived to be the authenticity of rural life --nostalgia became commercial, saleable, even the stuff of souvenirs (into the 1930s: domestic tourism, fitness, historic preservation, “Little England”-ism) Real situation at this time: nostalgia largely from people in cities, who worried, as we saw as far back as Hardy, that hallowed traditions were dying. Before long, people worried, there’d be no thatchers, coopers, shepherds or ploughmen left. But it wasn’t the actual landworkers, what was left of them, who were worrying about this; such traditional occupations had been disappearing since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Rural workers needed to embrace technology to survive; if they didn’t have it, it was because they couldn’t afford it. What they really couldn’t afford was sentimentality over old ways. It was those in the cities —maybe the descendents of those people driven off the land in Oliver Goldsmith’s time, who sentimentalized the country. So when they bought packs of cigarettes, for instance, they could find
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This note was uploaded on 06/14/2011 for the course ENGL 283 taught by Professor Geiskes during the Fall '08 term at South Carolina.

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10-25 lecture Gibbons - In order to tackle Cold Comfort...

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