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The Country and the City Paperback – March 27, 1975

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Editorial Reviews


"The best book by one of the great literary critics of the century. Ideal for courses in English literature and history alike."--Brie Thompson, UCSC

"Williams has undertaken in this book a critical history of English literature from a stimulatingly original point of view."--Robert Hatch, The Nation

"Williams' historical viewpoint [is] fused out of the materials of an immensely impressive knowledge of literature, a personal commitment, and a sophisticated sort of impressionism."--Alan Goldfein, Commentary

"Its readings are original, its prose is concise, and it is particularly affecting because it expresses its author's concern with its themes."--Naomi Bliven, The New Yorker

About the Author

Raymond Williams, Jesus College, Cambridge University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 27, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195198107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195198102
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By G. T. A. Bath on August 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Really like this book. As a rural dwelling, rural upbrought, bumpkin, who nevertheless has had habitual social intercourse with city folk, and cities themselves, it plunged me, through its meditations on history and literature, deeply into the images, signs and languages that have subconsciously impregnated all our imaginations and at which we instinctively grope when trying to make sense of those most fundamental of divisions, rural/urban, modern/tradition, nature/civilisation. Being less versed in English lit than Williams-meister, I found it a bit difficult to keep up at times, but it also whetted by appetite for getting down to some serious literature consumption myself.

If you read it, you won't think about the "countryside" in quite the same way again...which is to say, you'll actaully think about the countryside as a changing cultural notion, rather than not think about it, which has got to be alright.

Wack this on the old bookshelve, and surprise your friends with your hidden marxist-critical-intellectual side. It worked for me.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Williams' *The Country and the City* is a classic study on the relationship between literature and society. His arguments are original and interesting, and formulate useful, if not necessary reading for later marxist criticisms. Some parts of the book are taken from one of Williams' earlier books entitled *The English Novel From Dickens to Lawrence*. Williams' writing is lucid and accessible, particularly in comparison to other critical texts. Students and Scholars of 19th and 20th literature, and individuals interested in rural/urban literature should definitely be familiar with this text.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By jessbcuz VINE VOICE on May 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having just completely digested the first half of this book (basically the section that deals with the 18th cent.) I can say that I found it a very valuable book for my studies. Williams is an engaging and very readable writer who, unlike other more staid scholars, includes himself within his work. As one fellow graduate student said, he is like a friendly voice calling out in the esoteric world of academia--and sometimes when doing graduate work you really need a friend.
Friendly appeal aside, Williams also sets the stage for the New Historicist approach that has ruled the last quarter century in historical, literature, and cultural studies. Reading the first four chapters alone will be beneficial for any wrangling you might do with texts working within in an episteme different than yours.
I would highly recommend this text to anyone working in the 18th or 19th century, but do take it with a grain of salt. His citations and line of argument are a bit shoddy at times, but if you just go along with him enjoying the ride, there is considerable payoff at the end.
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Format: Paperback
It was with a little trepidation that I began to read the Marxist critic Raymond Williams 35 year old book "The Country And The City". I need not have been worried.

Its obvious that Williams, who was born in a Welsh border village, has a keen knowledge of the reality of countryside grounded in experience. He has usefully augmented this and expanded into other times and places during a life time of city bound study. It is this accumulated knowledge of the literature and reality of country and city as well as the relationship between the two over time that make this an interesting read.

The majority of the book focuses on the country-side of the title, intelligent readings of the literature of the time against the reality of Britain's developing capitalist agricultural, the enclosure of the commons and depopulation. He never loses sight of the fact that the country is lived in and worked by people and in what context this occurs. This provides the framework for a thoughtful consideration of what would have been contemporary literature through the ages: what is written and what is not written, and how the various authors see the country. Initially much of the material is poetry and drama, I regrettably have never had much of a head for poetry but Williams makes such poets as Oliver Goldsmith, William Wordsworth and John Clare explicable. As time progresses more of the material considered is in prose: William Cobbet, Jane Austen, George Elliot, Thomas Hardy, Lewis Grassic Gibbon for example.

All this is related to developments in the City, which Williams sees as being connected to the countryside. The reality of life in the city is likewise related to the literature of the times, his consideration of Dickens made me want to re-read at least some of his works.
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