Swinburne called him a bad poet, Tennyson called him dull, Saintsbury called him thin. John Schad celebrates Clough the anti-poet, a loving laureate of the extraordinary dull, who is so thin we can see through, or beyond him. Clough, argues Schad, never gets in the way of the world, or worlds, of which he writes. And these worlds are many: ranging from the orthodox world of the Anglican Oxford that Clough famously abandons, through the turbulent worlds of Paris and Rome that Clough visits in the wake of the revolutionary events of 1848, to the quietly desperate world of Clough’s final years. For Schad, though, Clough’s defining world is the very strange world of continental thought, a world which makes him a most un-Victorian Victorian.
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