John Barrell (essay date 1972)
SOURCE: “John Clare and the Enclosure of Helpston,” in The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place, 1730-1840, Cambridge, 1972, 189-215.
[In the following excerpt, Barrell looks at how critics of Clare have evaluated the role of enclosure in his poetry and then offers his own conclusions.]
Almost every critic who has written about John Clare has seen the importance of relating the enclosure of Helpston to Clare's development as a writer and to the content of his work, and Clare himself makes constant reference to the enclosure in the poems apparently composed between about 1812 and 1825. The difficulty, however, has been to escape from...
(The entire section is 6104 words.)