Summerfield's and my hope that ordinary readers would soon learn to accustom themselves to the peculiarities of Clare's expression, warts and all, seems to be justified by the ever-increasing numbers of Clare's works presented in this strict way. And even schoolchildren seem to make their way without too much difficulty through Clare's aberrations from standard English. Though the annotation gets a little fuller, glossaries become more extensive and more reliable, and editorial comments point out the commonest pitfalls, the general reader continues to derive understanding and pleasure from Clare's writings without their being rendered in the forms usually preferred for other "educated" poets in the traditional canon of English literature.
Yet there is a ground-swell running counter to all this. Such editors of Clare as Geoffrey Grigson, James Reeves, and Peter Levi, as well as the editors of some anthologies, prefer to do as the Tibbies did in their 1935 edition of The Poems of John Clare, i.e. correct Clare's spelling and grammar, sometimes prefer John Taylor's substitutions of^standard vocabulary for Clare's own words, and punctuate his writings in whatever manner they deem appropriate. Reviewers also occasionally chastise the purists — Summerfield, Robinson. Grainger, Powell and Thornton — for being pretentious in sticking so close to Clare's writing habits, thereby, in the reviewers' opinion, rendering him quaint and severing him from an even larger readership. It seems time to look at these editorial problems again in the light of nineteenth-century and twentieth-century literary history, and to set the problems of Clare's modern editors once more alongside those of his earlier editors and publishers.