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Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period$
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Sarah Houghton-Walker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719472

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719472.001.0001

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John Clare’s Gypsies

John Clare’s Gypsies

(p.92) 4 John Clare’s Gypsies
Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period

Sarah Houghton-Walker

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at various gypsy poems by John Clare as exemplary of the way in which the social and economic pressures outlined in Chapter 1 impact upon literary representations of gypsies, pointing out how Clare’s depictions suggest a shift in attitudes towards gypsies across the early decades of the nineteenth century. Comparing one of Clare’s poems with its source text (a poem by Samuel Rogers), the chapter also considers the idea of influence, and the origins of writers' ideas about gypsies, pointing out the clash between literary knowledge and “real” knowledge in Clare’s work. It also demonstrates the way in which gypsies reciprocally provide a particularly appropriate subject for those of Clare’s poems which engage with questions of tradition, authority, and change.

Keywords:   John Clare, Samuel Rogers, literary influence, literary tradition, literary authority

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