Tony Harrison and the rhetorics of reality

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This article develops some of the ideas derived from literary pragmatics and particularly those outlined in Sell’s (1994) ‘Literary gossip, literary theory, literary pragmatics’. My purpose is to explore my own growing dissatisfaction with some of Tony Harrison’s poetry of the mid 1980s (and particularly v) by investigating afresh the circumstances in which it was written and the various commentaries that have appeared, both popular and scholarly. By paying close attention to Harrison’s use of various ‘voices’ and the deictic properties of the pronouns he uses to identify the different speakers, I come to the conclusion that Harrison is essentially ‘monologic’ rather than ‘heteroglossic’ and that his poetry therefore fails to represent the social diversity of the Thatcher years in Britain.


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