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Poetry & Responsibility$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380352

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380352.001.0001

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Poison and Cure

Poison and Cure

Ted Hughes’s Prose

(p.151) Chapter 10 Poison and Cure
Poetry & Responsibility

Neil Corcoran


This chapter discusses Hughes's peculiarly ambivalent attitude to his own prose writing. On the one hand prose was essential to him, vital to his poetic creativity, but on the other he regarded it as dangerous, damaging and even a form of poison. The chapter argues that Jacques Derrida's concept of the pharmakon is relevant to this; and Hughes's prose is read in its paradoxical light. The chapter offers a detailed examination of such matters in the prose as: Hughes's understanding of children; his concept of ‘culture's error'; his obsessive preoccupation with Sylvia Plath; his belief in the ‘one myth’ of a writer's life. The chapter also gives attention to his letters, in which various other facets of character and style are revealed. The chapter attempts to convey a strong sense of Hughes's prose style and to offer a view of what his prose contributes to both modern literary and cultural criticism.

Keywords:   Hughes, Prose, Derrida, Letters

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