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The Laughter of Foxes

The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes

Volume: 38
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: REV - Revised, 2
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    The Laughter of Foxes
    Book Description:

    The Laughter of Foxes was the first study to be published after Hughes’ death, and therefore the first to survey the whole of Hughes’ achievement, including Birthday Letters. It contains a great deal of new information, including extracts from Hughes’ letters, and the first publication of the background story of Crow. There are chapters on the mythic imagination, on the poetic relationship of Hughes and Plath, and on the evolution of a Hughes poem through all its manuscript drafts. But the main purpose of the book is to attempt an adequate reading of Hughes’ poetry, revealing the underlying quest which transformed his imagination, leading him by painful stages from a vision of a world made of blood to a vision of a world made of light.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-347-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
    (pp. vi-viii)
    Mark Hinchliffe
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xxxiv)
    Ann Skea
  8. CHAPTER ONE The Mythic Imagination
    (pp. 1-35)

    In his address at the Memorial Service for Ted Hughes at Westminster Abbey, Seamus Heaney claimed that as DNA is the genetic code for the human body, so myth is the poetic code for the human spirit. By myth he meant not only the great body of named myths we have inherited from the ancient world, but any imaginative work that consciously or unconsciously takes on an identifiably mythic shape.

    The choice of mythic subject matter or imagery is, of course, no guarantee of the release of ‘mythic imagination’. Myth can be used as a short-cut to prefabricated ‘profundity’ (Star...

  9. CHAPTER TWO From Prospero to Orpheus
    (pp. 36-86)

    A relief map of a poet’s childhood landscape is often an amazingly accurate map of that poet’s psyche and imagination. That landscape is available to the poet not only as subject matter and ‘local colour’; it can provide him with a fund of vital images, and with a paradigm for his understanding of life itself and his own inner being. If the business of the poet is, as Hughes has claimed, to find metaphors for his own nature, then the earliest images to present themselves as such metaphors are likely to be the contours, climate, flora and fauna of the...

  10. CHAPTER THREE The Evolution of ‘The Dove Came’
    (pp. 87-103)

    The way poetry is usually taught, artificially detaching the poem from the poet and from the whole creative process, encourages a belief that, as milk comes from bottles, so poems come from books. The complex and fascinating process by which they came into being and got into the books is totally ignored.

    Though, as Hughes says, ‘the poem can emerge of a sudden, complete and perfect, unalterable, taking the poet completely by surprise, as if he had no idea where it came from’, there is widespread belief, particularly among the young, that this is how all poems are written, or...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR From World of Blood to World of Light
    (pp. 104-169)

    Early in his career Hughes spoke of ‘the terrible, suffocating, maternal octopus’ of the English poetic tradition. But Hughes himself, despite his deep early involvement with the natural world, was never in much danger of being remade in the image of Wordsworth. The boy who was taken to a nearby pub to watch Billy Red catch and kill rats with his teeth, whose pet fox-cubs were torn apart by dogs before his eyes, who dreamed of being a wolf, was not likely to see Nature as Lucy Gray, rather as the sow that eats her own farrow. Nor did poetry...

  12. APPENDIX The Story of Crow
    (pp. 170-180)
    (pp. 181-188)
    (pp. 189-192)
    (pp. 193-196)