Ely, Steve (2016) Tales of the Tribe: Modern epic, guerrilla-pastoral and utopian yeoman-anarchism in Oswald’s Book of Hours and Englaland. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Oswald’s Book of Hours and Englaland (OBOH&E — Smokestack Books, 2013 & 2015 respectively) are distinctive works in the context of modern and contemporary English language poetry. Although there are affinities between OBOH&E and several modern and contemporary works, OBOH&E’s visionary engagement with concepts of England and English identity, their epic expression and novel post-pastoral dimension combine to make them unique. The works’ address to England and the English emerges from an ecologically committed, broadly socialist position informed by Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, Benedict Anderson’s concept of the nation as ‘imagined community’ and Patrick Kavanagh’s assertion of the primacy of the ‘parochial’, coalescing into a literary-political position defined by my coinage utopian yeoman-anarchism. The epic dimension of OBOH&E is demonstrated in an exposition based on the theoretical writings of Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound and M.M. Bakhtin. OBOH&E’s characteristic dialogical method — defined by the synchronic and synoptic temporal aspect of the works and their deployments of heteroglossia, polyphony and xenoglossia — leads to a characterisation of the books as novelistic ‘modern epics’. Finally, in an analysis informed by Terry Gifford’s influential taxonomy, OBOH&E is identified as a distinctive subgenre of the post-pastoral (another coinage) — the guerrillapastoral. The guerrilla-pastoral arises from the transgressive rural praxis of the author and is reflected and expressed via his personae, narrators and protagonists as they assert their rights in the land, in conflict with representatives of the power that seeks to restrict and deny them.

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