Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Quickening Maze

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Quickening Maze

A Novel

by Adam Foulds

The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Jun 2010, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

John Clare
The Quickening Maze is based on real events in the lives of English poets John Clare and Alfred Tennyson. Tennyson, better known as Lord Tennyson (even though he was well into his eighth decade before becoming a peer) will be familiar to most of us for a handful of his better known poems including The Charge of the Light Brigade, one of the many works written during his 42 year tenure as Poet Laureate to Queen Victoria.

John Clare But what of John Clare? Born of humble rural origins in 1793, Clare spent much of his life as a tradesman and laborer. Though he received a limited education, and did not learn a standardized grammar, he would become known as a pastoral poet and author of collections including Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery; The Village Minstrel; The Shepherd's Calendar with Village Stories and Other Poems; The Rural Muse; and The Midsummer Cushion, a posthumous gathering including many previously unpublished poems.

Pastoral poetry often concerns itself with an idealized portrayal of rural life, often in opposition to modern urbanization, but Clare, in the words of writer Richard Mabey, "…is not a presenter of nature. He is a re-presenter, a representative. He never shows facile 'identification' with another creature, but rather a kind of solidarity, as a fellow commoner."

Jonathan Bates, in his 2003 biography, describes Clare as "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced." However, unlike Tennyson, his writing was not widely celebrated during his lifetime, and fell into relative obscurity after his death in 1864. Clare's biography may have partly shadowed his poetry – he was an alcoholic, and was twice institutionalized for depression and delusions (the second time for the last two decades of his life).

Since the 1950s, there has been renewed interest in Clare's writing, in part because it reflects a transitional time in England's history, when the Industrial Revolution was permanently changing the environment in which Clare was most immersed. Author Adam Foulds refers to him as a "key figure in ecological literature."

Interesting Links
Read selected poems online
Adam Foulds on John Clare

Image: © National Portrait Gallery, London

Article by Karen Rigby

This article is from the September 8, 2010 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Every good journalist has a novel in him - which is an excellent place for it.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -