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Pastoral (The New Critical Idiom) Paperback – 5 Aug 1999

2.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (5 Aug. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415147336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415147330
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"It is time to evaluate the works of literature and the environment using Gifford's powerful terms."
-Christopher Kuipers," ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment
"The book is suggestive and the product of a reflective intelligence... [recommended] for comprehensive academic collections."
-"Choice, April 2000

About the Author

Terry Gifford is Research Co-ordinator at the School of English, Bretton Hall College of Leeds University. He is author of Green Voices: Understanding Contemporary Nature Poetry.


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A good introduction to the pastoral. Covers 174 pages, which is too long for what it has to say. Could be condensed into a more streamlined format. The main areas that it covers are the different types of pastoral, the understanding of Arcadia, the conventions of retreat and return, the anti-pastoral and the post-pastoral forms.
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As an A-level English Literature teacher I have found this book to be invaluable in looking at critical theory for the AQA A2 Pastoral module. Gifford may be pompous on occasion but what academic isn't? In terms of other interpretations of texts (a key aspect of the module) there is plenty here to get one's teeth into - the sections on 'retreat' and 'constructions' are particularly lucid and helpful. I would definitely recommend this text to teachers, A-level students and undergraduates.
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I usually like books in this series, but this is a rather stodgy and sometimes stilted addition. Gifford draws on pastoral’s classical roots in Theocritus and Virgil’s Eclogues, but his exposition feels a bit circular and unproductive.

He does try to draw out some of the qualities of pastoral: its artifice, the movement of retreat and return, the contrast between country and city but the readings feel a little superficial. Where, for example, is the discussion of the coded politics of pastoral which we find in Sidney’s Arcadia?

Good as a basic introduction to the genre, but this won’t get you very far.
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I used to get taught 'nature poetry writing' by a scholar of the environment and of the hills who had the same name as Terry Gifford and who also wrote dittys about climbing and logs and things. I too am an elemental poet, indeed below is my latest offering hewn from the same rock as Giffords and borne from the existential hills that bore Forsters primal 'ba-oum' from Passage to India (the book not the restaraunt in Scunthorpe) You'll see that I have continued to develop as a poet over the years since I left university, just as a tree develops roots and as a stream meanders to become an Oxbow lake with silt and whatnot.. Anyway, here goes:
I love the trees, I love the wind,
As it howls demonically about my person,
Halt! Stop! Admire the stream as it twists and turns,
The pebbles lead a merry dance under its cool cool comforting conformity,
For they are not pebbles,
They.
Are.
Silt.

See that line about cool conformity and that? That is ALLITERATION! And that last bit? That's my nod to EE Cummings. See all these years later I still remember some stuff from when I was quite a bit youngerer.

As for Terry's poetry, I prefer the works of deeper more emotional poets like Pam Ayres and Geri Haliwell hence the one star. But I do have to take my hat off to him for inventing such an obscure cliquey niche such as 'nature climbing poetry'. I'm thinking of combining my love of daytime telly and poetry..I can feel an ode to Loose Women coming on as I type this...
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I had the unhappy pleasure of being given a copy of this book and I could have wept. Gifford comes across as a pompous, ego-centric writer whose literary ideas whorishly steal from other more valuable sources. His sneering tone towards popular culture invalidates all his claims. I would happily burn this book, or more aptly throw it from the top of a mountain. Possibly the worst book I have ever read, with competition only from Ginny Woolfe's 'To The Lighthouse' and that Tristram Shandy gibberish.
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