A Time and a Place: George Crabbe, Aldeburgh and Suffolk by Frances Gibb - review by Susan Owens

Susan Owens

The Sea Held No Charm for Him

A Time and a Place: George Crabbe, Aldeburgh and Suffolk

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Lutterworth Press 192pp £17.50 order from our bookshop
 

Both time and place could be said to have been against George Crabbe (1754–1832). Was he born too late? The poem that made his reputation, The Village, was published in 1783 but the majority of his long narrative poems, in which he built on his unsentimental depiction of character and rural life in this early work, did not appear until after the turn of the century, by which time the landscape of British poetry had been radically redrawn by the Romantics. Crabbe maintained a dogged attachment to the heroic rhyming couplet long after it had fallen out of fashion, though according to Tennyson, the ‘monotonous tramp, tramp, tramp’ of his lines suited his often dour subject matter. Or perhaps he was born too early? As Frances Gibb suggests in this critical biography of the poet and clergyman, Crabbe’s ‘radical’ and ‘unromantic’ realism set him at odds with the prevailing mood of his period and anticipated the preoccupations of some Victorian novelists, especially Thomas Hardy.

Place is at the heart of the book, as it is central to Crabbe’s poetry, and the author offers a perceptive account of his relationship to a region that both attracted and repelled him. Crabbe was born in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, described by his son and

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