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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Thursday 06 October 2005

Edge of the Orison

Robert MacFarlane's Psychogeography: a beginner's guide is worth taking a look at. It is his review of Iain Sinclair's latest outing Edge of the Orison. Subtitled In the traces of John Clare's "Journey out of Essex", MacFarlane writes:

In 1841, Clare escaped from the High Beach Asylum in Epping Forest and, over a three-and-a-half-day “hallucinatory voyage”, walked the 120 miles north-west to his home county of Northamptonshire. Shortly after arrival, he was recommitted to a local asylum, where he remained until his death in 1864. Sinclair follows Clare’s route (the pun of “syn-Clare” is implicit throughout this pun-riddled book) and uses the counterpoint of the earlier journey to meditate on, among other things, the politics of land use, doppelgängers, genealogy and the future of the English countryside. In Sinclair’s visionary account, Clare’s tilt into madness – induced by the landscape changes which the Enclosure Acts wrought – becomes a parable for the fall of rural England, and the psychic maladies suffered throughout contemporary Britain.

See also the John Clare blog and John Clare by Himself (which brings together all of John Clare's autobiographical writing).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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