A common centaur
Hood and the grotesque
in Thomas Hood and nineteenth-century poetry
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This chapter argues that Thomas Hood is a primary exponent of the grotesque in the early nineteenth century. A closer investigation of Hood's use of the grotesque can help us to understand not only his own work in different genres but also the typicality and topicality of the grotesque idiom in this period. Hood's preoccupation with the grotesque is a feature of his work from his earliest contributions to the London Magazine to late poems such as 'The Elm Tree: A Dream in the Woods', and 'Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg'. 'Lycus the Centaur', like 'The Two Peacocks of Bedfont' and 'Hero and Leander', was reprinted in Hood's volume of 'serious' verse The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies. Hood's grotesquerie is strongly coloured by his imbrication in an expanding market in which change is omnipresent and omnipotent, and subjects and objects can be exchanged with shocking ease.

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