Gray Agonistes: Thomas Gray and Masculine Friendship

Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 - 231 ページ
Thomas Gray (1716-1771) had the misfortune to be a poet at a time when English poetry was struggling with an aching question: how to preserve continuity with the great tradition of Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton, yet avoid being merely echoes of them. A deep admirer of Milton, Gray emulated not only the great poet's subjects and diction, but his life as well. Although Gray turned to Milton for reminders of the heights to which all poetry might strive, he felt alternately energized and paralyzed by the sublimity of Milton's example. But Gray had an ally in his contest with his mighty predecessor. His friend and former schoolmate, Richard West, was also well educated, a devotee of Milton, and a poet.

Gray Agonistes is the first book to examine in detail the intersection in Thomas Gray's life and poetry of Milton's career and achievement and Gray's intense homosexual relationship with Richard West (and, to a lesser extent, with Horace Walpole and Thomas Ashton, all of whom banded together at Eton as the Quadruple Alliance). In all of Gray's poetry Gleckner discovers sites of intense and heroic struggle--with Milton's ghost and with Gray's need to articulate his passionate attachment to West. After West's early death in 1742, Gray's foreboding became anguish, and he became the poet of Elegy in a Country Churchyard.


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The Miltonic Background
Gray West and Epistolary Encoding

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