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New Light on Tony Harrison$
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Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266519

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266519.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 26 October 2021

v.’ Revisited: Harrison, Rimbaud and the French Radical Tradition

v.’ Revisited: Harrison, Rimbaud and the French Radical Tradition

(p.139) 12v.’ Revisited: Harrison, Rimbaud and the French Radical Tradition
New Light on Tony Harrison

Christine Regan

British Academy

In v. ‘Tony Harrison’ explains his essential identity as an unlikely union of high cultural poet and dispossessed vandal, an idiosyncratic loner who finds his ghostly twin in a nineteenth-century French poet, Rimbaud. To understand the significance of Harrison’s claim that he is as one in spirit with Rimbaud, it is important to remember that the literary and political rebel was a poet of the Paris Commune, and v. is responsive to the literary and republican history Rimbaud lived in. In v. Harrison’s signature poetics of occupation engages with Parisian’s aesthetic and political occupation of their city in 1871 and 'artisanal' political poetry. As poet-mythologers, Harrison and Rimbaud champion traditions of resistance to the state and capital, illuminating the shared hopes uniting different struggles. The significance of the 1984 miners’ strike, Thatcher, Marx and Morris for Harrison’s state of the nation poem, and for the political sonnets, is discussed too. v. suggests alternative social models to Thatcher’s neoliberal revolution and late capitalism in England, and suggests the wish for fundamental change. The past is full of paths not taken, and v. suggests visiting Paris 1871, with Rimbaud as ‘the first poet of a civilization that has not yet appeared’, to illuminate utopian possibilities about transforming the world and ‘changer la vie’.

Keywords:   Harrison, v., Rimbaud, Communards, Miners’ Strike, Marx, Morris, Artisan

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