Performing the city
The audience as subject
in Thomas Hood and nineteenth-century poetry
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This chapter considers Thomas Hood's poetry in relationship to the so-called 'minor' or 'illegitimate' theatre of the 1820s and 1830s. The London Magazine inculcated a strikingly warm and broad approach to theatre, extolling drama as a medium that presents and solicits interaction grounded in natural fellow-feeling. Hood's first book of poetry, Odes and Addresses to Great People, written in collaboration with John Hamilton Reynolds, has an explicitly theatrical background. In Odes and Addresses, Hood and Reynolds similarly eschew the model of the lone poet mounted on Pegasus, countering it with an image of the author as showman, urban topographer, saluting the metropolitan audience as subject. Hood's monologues, with their emphasis on the process of viewing and the theatre of the everyday, draw attention to social and class identity as itself an effect of performance.


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