Against the Age: Introduction to William Morris

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9780048090126: Against the Age: Introduction to William Morris

Students new to the work of William Morris will find the full range of his achievements covered in this reissue of Peter Faulkner's excellent biography, first published in 1980. The author has carefully placed Morris in the context of the Victorian age, but has also suggested the relevance of his ideas today. The six chapters are organised biographically and cover all aspects of Morris’s work in poetry, fiction, design and socialist politics.

The emphasis is on his continuous struggle against the age in which he lived, seen as an idealism which went through various stages from the wistfulness of The Earthly Paradise through the practical activities of the firm of Morris & Company to the socialism of Morris's later years. The book quotes freely from writings by Morris which are not easily accessible and gives an overall account from which the student can develop his specialist interests. This reissue will appeal to sixth-formers and undergraduates interested in the Victorian period, as seen through one of its most striking personalities.

When this book appeared in 1980, Morris’s reputation had risen again after the low estimates of the interwar period. This was due both to the reappraisal of his politics and to the expanding popularity of his designs. Against the Age offers a clear account of Morris’s career for those developing an interest in his numerous achievements. It covers the whole range of Morris’s work, and argues for his significance as a writer of both poetry and prose. Since 1980 our knowledge of Morris has been enriched by the publication of Norman Kelvin’s edition of his Collected Letters, by the late Nicholas Salmond’s editions of his contributions to the socialist journals, by Fiona MacCarthy’s biography of 1984, and by the increasing recognition of Morris as a pioneer of environmentalism. However, the book retains its value for its wide coverage and its balanced attitude to Morris’s achievements, and for its encouragement to readers to consider the issues that make Morris of continuing importance today.

 

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Review:

'a relevant and succinct introduction to Morris's work' -Peter Faulkner

'Faulkner's lucid style, coupled with the chronological structure of the book, makes it easily accessible as an introductory reader' -Peter Faulkner

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