Private Fire

Private Fire
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Robert Francis's Ecopoetry and Prose
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Matthew James Babcock
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Matthew J. Babcock's Private Fire: Robert Francis's Ecopoetry and Prose presents an introduction to and analysis of nearly six decades of nature-centered literature produced by one of America's most intriguing but tragically obscure writers. Private Fire tracks the steady trajectory of Francis's life and career, situates him among more visible twentieth-century writers, and presents a broad and eclectic explication of his contribution to American environmental literature. Specifically, readers will investigate the influence Dickinson and Frost exerted on Francis, Francis's traditional and experimental poetry, his satirical essays, his novel and wilderness sketches, and his published and unpublished ruminations on spirituality, homoerotics, vegetarianism, and pacifism during World War II and Vietnam. Major themes include poetry and political dissidence, aesthetics and poverty, sexuality and nature, environmental preservation, literature and over-mechanization, and conservation in the age of industry and information.
Matthew J. Babcock's Private Fire: Robert Francis's Ecopoetry and Prose is an examination of the life and work of one of America's most intriguing but tragically obscure writers. Babcock uses his own personal relationship Robert Francis's work, which emphasizes conservation and connectedness to our natural surroundings, to illuminate both overtones and nuances that are undoubtedly useful to those interested in poetry and ecology. Babcock begins with a brief biographical section intended to set the tone for readers previously unfamiliar with Robert Francis and then continues into an analysis of the influence of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost on Francis's work. Starting in Chapter Three, Private Fire shifts into the realm of literary analysis and discusses various angles of Francis's work, from representations of gender and sexual identity; prose contributions, both fiction and non-fiction; religion and politics; to themes of conservation, place-making, experimental poetic styles, and asceticism, finishing with a discussion of Francis's only long narrative poem, 'Valhalla.' This poem joins other prophetic works in musing upon environmental apocalypticism. Matthew J. Babcock finishes this detailed and thoughtful volume with concluding meditations that situate Robert Francis with his contemporaries, helping readers to locate him historically and contextually amongst other 20th century writers. By using biography and literary theory as the lens through which one interprets Francis's work, Private Fire: Robert Francis's Ecopoetry and Prose successfully navigates the literary and cultural environment surrounding a poet who himself was so connected with the world around him.
Chapter 1 Preface
Chapter 2 Acknowledgments

Chapter 3 Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter 4 Chapter Two: The Influence of Dickinson and Frost

Chapter 5 Chapter Three: Sex, Gender, and the Rural Erotic

Chapter 6 Chapter Four: Fiction and Non-Fiction

Chapter 7 Chapter Five: Ecospirituality and Ecopolitics

Chapter 8 Chapter Six: Economy, Place, and Space

Chapter 9 Chapter Seven: The Experimental Environment

Chapter 10 Chapter Eight:

Chapter 11 Chapter Nine: Conclusion

Chapter 12 Notes

Chapter 13 Bibliography

Chapter 14 Index

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