Skip to content
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


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.

Zitierte Literatur


Auden, Wystan Hugh. 1989. The English Auden: Poems, Essays and Dramatic Writings 1927–1939. Ed. Edward Mendelson. London: Faber.Search in Google Scholar

The Bible. 2008. Introd. and notes by Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Authorized King James Vers.Search in Google Scholar

The Book of Common Prayer. 1836. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Burnett, Paula (ed.). 1986. The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse in English. London: Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. 1987. Vom rechten Handeln [De officiis]. Lateinisch und Deutsch. Ed. Karl Büchner. 3rd ed. München: Artemis.Search in Google Scholar

Gray, Thomas. 1969. “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard [1751]”. In: Roger Lonsdale (ed.). The Poems of Thomas Gray, William Collins, Oliver Goldsmith. London: Longmans. 103–141.Search in Google Scholar

Hardy, Thomas. 1976. The Complete Poems. Ed. James Gibson. London: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Harrison, Tony. 1998. Prometheus. London: Faber.Search in Google Scholar

Harrison, Tony. 2007. Collected Poems. London: Viking.Search in Google Scholar

Harrison, Tony. 2013. Selected Poems. 3rd ed. London: Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Hornby, Nick. 2000. Fever Pitch. London: Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Larkin, Philip. 2010. Letters to Monica [Jones]. Ed. Anthony Thwaite. London, Oxford: Faber, Bodleian.Search in Google Scholar

Longley, Michael. 2006. Collected Poems. London: Cape.Search in Google Scholar

Peace, David. 2004. GB84. London: Faber.Search in Google Scholar

Rimbaud, Arthur. 1975. Lettres du Voyant (13 et 15 Mai 1871). Ed. Gérald Schaeffer. Textes Littéraires Français 217. Genève: Librairie Droz.Search in Google Scholar

Rushdie, Salman. 2012. Joseph Anton: A Memoir. London: Cape.Search in Google Scholar

Wordsworth, William. 1969. Poetical Works. Eds. Thomas Hutchinson and E. de Selincourt. London: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar


Barilli, Renato. 1974. Die Präraffaeliten. München: Schuler.Search in Google Scholar

Brewer’s = Brewer’s Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable. 2002. Ed. Adrian Room. London: CassellSearch in Google Scholar

Brown, Callum G. 2009. The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800–2000. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Terence. 2004. Ireland: A Social and Cultural History 1922–2002. London: Harper.Search in Google Scholar

Byrne, Sandie (ed.). 1997. Tony Harrison: Loiner. Oxford: Clarendon.Search in Google Scholar

Byrne, Sandie (ed.). 1998. H. v. & O: The Poetry of Tony Harrison. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Culbertson, Judi and Tom Randall. 2000. Permanent Londoners: An Illustrated Biographical Guide to the Cemeteries of London. London: Robson.Search in Google Scholar

Fieldhouse, David K. 1971. The Colonial Empires: A Comparative Survey from the Eighteenth Century. 2nd ed. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.Search in Google Scholar

Fox, Kate. 2005. Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. London: Hodder.Search in Google Scholar

Goodman, Geoffrey. 1985. The Miners’ Strike. London: Pluto.Search in Google Scholar

Hoggart, Richard. 1957. The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life, with Special Reference to Publications and Entertainments. London: Chatto & Windus.Search in Google Scholar

Klepuszewski, Wojciech. 2011. “V. – Tony Harrison’s Poetic Dialectic”. Lingua ac Communitas 21: 21–32.Search in Google Scholar

Krahé, Peter. 1995. “‘Approach and Read’: Grays ‘Elegy’ aus sozial- und mentalitätsgeschichtlicher Sicht”. Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift N.F. 45: 388–404.Search in Google Scholar

Krahé, Peter. 2005. “Yookay: Identitätswandel im Spiegel der Namensgebung”. Anglistik 16.2: 83–98.Search in Google Scholar

Krahé, Peter. 2007. “Verwischte Inschriften: Zu Thomas Hardys ‘During Wind and Rain’”. Sprachkunst: Beiträge zur Literaturwissenschaft 38: 95–105.10.1553/spk38_1s97Search in Google Scholar

Morgan, Kenneth O. 1999. The People’s Peace: British History since 1945. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Paxman, Jeremy. 1999. The English: A Portrait of a People. London: Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Pevsner, Nikolaus. 1959. Yorkshire: The West Riding. The Buildings of England 17. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Poulton, Mike. 1997. The Photograph. Oxford Reading Tree, Stage 9. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Pugh, Martin. 1994. State and Society: British Political and Social History 1870–1992. London: Arnold.Search in Google Scholar

Serres, Michel and Nayla Farouki (eds.). 2001. Thesaurus der exakten Wissenschaften. Frankfurt a. M.: Zweitausendeins.Search in Google Scholar

Sharpe, James A. 1997. Early Modern England: A Social History 1550–1760. 2nd ed. London: Arnold.Search in Google Scholar

Sheehan, Seán. 2008. The Poetry of Tony Harrison. London: Greenwich Exchange.Search in Google Scholar

Spencer, Luke. 1994. The Poetry of Tony Harrison. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Search in Google Scholar

Winder, Robert. 2005. Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain. London: Abacus.10.1177/030639680504700111Search in Google Scholar

Woodcock, Bruce. 1990. “Classical Vandalism: Tony Harrison’s Invective”. The Critical Quarterly 32.2: 50–65.10.1111/j.1467-8705.1990.tb00588.xSearch in Google Scholar

Elektronische Ressourcen

Alberge, Dalya. 2004. “Larkin’s Lost Elegy to Dad Who Mucked Him Up”. The Times, August 10. <> [Zugriff 15.9.2014].Search in Google Scholar

Arthur, Charles. 1999. “Elderly Beat Yoof in the Great National Spelling Competition”. The Independent, November 12. <> [Zugriff 15.9.2014].Search in Google Scholar

“Bergschäden in Dortmund durch Bergbau-Arbeit unter Tage”. WAZ, 3.5.2011. <> [Zugriff 25.7.2013].Search in Google Scholar

“Harrison”. Great Britain Family Names Profiling. <> [Zugriff 26.7.2013].Search in Google Scholar

“Leeds United”. Wikipedia. <> [Zugriff 25.7.2013].Search in Google Scholar

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

© 2014 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston