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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 6, 2015

Zeitkritik in Tony Harrisons “v.” vor dem Hintergrund von Grays “Elegy”

Peter Krahé
From the journal Anglia

Abstract

The industrial age extends between Thomas Gray’s “Elegy” (1751) und Tony Harrison’s “v.” (‘versus’; 1985), elegies for the anonymous dead and reflections on changing times. Starting with a brief comparison of the authors and the background of these poems, the present study analyses structure, plot, and leitmotifs of “v.”. Whereas Gray’s poem is a famous example of the elevated style, Harrison is known for his drastic language, which he puts to impressive poetical use. It is shown how the rudeness of the speaker’s dialogue with the skinhead, his alter ego, reveals a serious diagnosis: social deprivation against the Leeds ambiente, the local football club, and popular culture. Memories of a working-class youth and the speaker’s relationship with his father will be considered as a case study reflecting on societal changes in the process of deindustrialization and the gradual replacement and alienation of the local working-class by other ethnic groups. Whereas Gray’s “Elegy” recurs to God in the end, “v.” offers, not without strong accents of irony, two endings, on a micro level the speaker’s return to an educated middle-class home, on a macro level the scenario of a millennium in which not even a cemetery will ensure a location of permanent rest.

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Online erschienen: 2015-1-6
Erschienen im Druck: 2014-12-1

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