Civil Invitations: Common Readers

Geoffrey Hill

in Speaking to You

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199657001
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742194 | DOI:
Civil Invitations: Common Readers

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This chapter focuses on Hill's rude addresses, often levelled towards editors and critics (Croker, MacSikker, O’Shem). Such address has been read as unidirectional redress; personal railing that rejects responses from the yous it upbraids. The chapter explores the different communities of address negotiated by Hill's A Treatise of Civil Power, and considers the figure of the literary ‘rebel’, as he moves in crowds and readerships, addressing commemorated figures and the intelligentsia. Critical of Eliot's ‘common reader’, Hill insists that address is not comfortably middle-brow activity, pressing upon you common ‘difficulty’. Poetry wields ‘pain’ and ‘stark indignation’ as weapons against the secure and elite. The poet's, and the common man's, speech comes from that rich, shared history employed by the Modernists; from artworks, events, and memorials, and from the patterns of working-class speech/life. But are Hill's addresses successfully self-upbraiding in donning the public voice that accosts itself in doing verbal battle with others?

Keywords: working class; everyday; pain; critics; editors; Geoffrey Hill; poetry; rude; address

Chapter.  5559 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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