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Thomas Moore and the social life of forms

Moore, Jane ORCID: 2020. Thomas Moore and the social life of forms. Connolly, Claire, ed. Irish Literature in Transition, 1780-1830, Vol. 2. Irish Literature in Transition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 257-272. (10.1017/9781108632218.015)

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Over the past two decades, Moore’s reputation as a producer and performer of Irish lyric has been at the centre of sharp-edged postcolonial critique condemning his exchange of the ‘wild harp’ of Erin for the ‘civil pianoforte’ of the English drawing room and fashionable society. This chapter reappraises Moore’s achievement as a poet with an attention to the interplay between lyric and song in their informing social and political contexts. It establishes the importance of Moore to British and Irish romanticism as a poet of sociability (in contrast to the idea of the solitary poet figured by the romantic ideology) positioned at the cross-roads of high and low art with an appeal across barriers of gender and social class. My title-phrase, ‘the social life of forms’, refers to the social contexts, the singing clubs and drawing rooms, in which Moore’s songs were performed, and gestures towards the sociality of song as a participatory medium. More than this, it identifies the surface, and, famously, in the judgement of William Hazlitt, the superficial quality of Moore’s poetry. That perceived superficiality is the quarry of this analysis, which argues for the significance of Moore’s surface technique.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781108632218
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2023 09:45

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