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Hughes' relationship with nature is so central to his work that every book on him has discussed it. However, because of the larger scope of all these books, this discussion has remained at a fairly superficial level.
Here Keith Sagar tries to take it onto a deeper level by relating it to paganism and Christianity, myth, Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, and the whole tradition of nature poetry in English, to Hughes' particular canon of revered poets, to his wider reading and the shaping events of his life.
He traces Hughes' painful journey from terror in the face of nature in his first three collections, through the transitional works from Crow to Cave Birds, to the transformation in Moortown and Remains of Elmet, culminating in the exultation of River. He argues that these three collections constitute the apex of Hughes' achievement, and are among the great works of world literature.
Keith Sagar, formerly Reader in English at Manchester University, is now a Special Professor at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of some twenty books, most of them on D. H. Lawrence or Ted Hughes.
Of The Art of Ted Hughes (1975) Hermann Peschmann wrote: 'The book is probably the most readable critical study since the war … a fascinating and overall view of a major poetic talent at work, seen at the most personal and intrinsic levels'.
Of The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes (2000) Erica Wagner wrote: 'Sagar's strength is his ability to appreciate from the inside the mythic journey which Hughes was undertaking through his work. Sagar's fine and sensitive book is proof that penetrating thought can be couched in lively and readable prose'.
Paperback ISBN: 9781844267682
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