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Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry$
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James Williams and Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198708568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198708568.001.0001

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Drawing Away from Lear

Drawing Away from Lear

Stevie Smith’s Deceitful Echo

(p.316) 15 Drawing Away from Lear
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry

william may

Oxford University Press

This chapter reads the drawings and poems of Stevie Smith as deliberate encounters with Lear and his legacy, exploring the ways she pledges affinity to his ‘nervous family’ while asking her readers to question, and finally reject, the lineage. It examines how Smith’s reception has been framed by comparisons to Lear, noting that T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens used their own criticism to counter possible associations with Lear’s whimsy. It goes on to consider how dramas of misattribution and disagreement haunt both writers’ works and careers, focusing on their representation of the outsider figure. Through a close reading of Lear and Smith’s sound effects, tonal shifts, and drawings, it suggests how both poets sketch the uneasy relationship between melancholy and nonsense.

Keywords:   Edward Lear, Stevie Smith, drawings, nonsense, influence

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