Thomas Gray by Mr. Robert L. Mack
A Life

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This major biography of Thomas Gray (1716-1771), the first in nearly half a century, expands our knowledge of the life of the English poet and our understanding of his personality and influential body of works. Robert L. Mack incorporates recent -- and often radically revisionary -- scholarship on Gray, drawing on developments in eighteenth-century studies and gender studies, as well as on extensive original archival research into the life of the poet and his family. The result is an eloquent and enlightening book, sure to be the definitive biography of this great poet, a forefather of the Romantic Movement.

The book provides important new information on Gray's family and background and closely examines the domestic environment of his formative years. By investigating how his father's abuse affected the poet, Mack casts new light tm Gray's personality -- and on the way that personality consistently and invariably informed his writing. The author applies a revised understanding of the psychological and sexual tensions in Gray's life to a close reading of this poetry and correspondence and finds a homoerotic desire lying just beneath the surface of almost all of Gray's important writings, including his "Sonnet" on the death of Richard West, the "Eton Ode", and his masterpiece, "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard".


About Mr. Robert L. Mack

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Robert L. Mack is a writer and editor who has worked on a number of volumes for Oxford World's Classics. He is the author of Thomas Gray: A Life.
Published January 15, 1997 by Orion Publishing Group, Ltd.. 64 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Attributing this tension to homoerotic desire leads to some interesting readings of Gray’s most important poems, including the “Sonnet” about his friend Richard West’s death and his “Eton Ode,” as well as the familiar “Elegy.” Even with these revisionist readings, the author’s account remains fir...

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Publishers Weekly

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He sees in the poet's sexuality one of the ""deeper, motivating subtexts of Gray's poetry."" What we discover here is not an entirely new Thomas Gray, but new insights into the poet's life and ongoing concerns, which include ""issues of perception, intuition, and poetic authority,"" as well as th...

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London Review of Books

By one account, when, near the end of his life, Gray visited St John’s College to meet the son of an acquaintance, ‘every College man took off his cap as he passed, a considerable number having assembled in the quadrangle to see Mr Gray, who was seldom seen.’ Gray managed the difficult feat of be...

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