An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard and The Eton College Manuscript

An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard and The Eton College Manuscript

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An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard and The Eton College Manuscript by Thomas Gray

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1751

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An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard and The Eton College Manuscript

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Reprint edition from 1951.

Book Excerpt

lded merit. Inevitably, since the industrial revolution, modernist critics have tended to stress its appeal to class consciousness. This appeal, real though it is, can be overemphasized. The rude forefathers are not primarily presented as underprivileged. Though poverty-stricken and ignorant, they are happy in family life and jocund in the field. "Nature is nature wherever placed," as the intellectuals of Gray's time loved to say, and the powers of the village fathers, potentially, equal the greatest; their virtue is contentment. They neither want nor need "storied urn or animated bust." If they are unappreciated by Ambition, Grandeur, Pride, et al., the lack of appreciation is due to a corruption of values. The value commended in the "Elegy" is that of the simple life, which alone is rational and virtuous--it is the life according to nature. Sophisticated living, Gray implies in the stanza that once ended the poem, finds man at war with himself and with reason; but the cool sequestered path--its goal identic

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