Claude Rawson

  • Ferocious Alphabets by Denis Donoghue
    Faber, 211 pp, £8.95, October 1981, ISBN 0 571 11809 7

Denis Donoghue begins, a little self-indulgently, by reprinting six short BBC talks on ‘Words’. The excuse is that such radio talks offer a simple if incomplete model for Donoghue’s conception of literary discourse: as an address to an invisible audience, or dialogue for ever aborted by the absence of a second party. Print, unlike radio, is silent. But the writer also seeks a ‘communion’ which is never achieved, and ‘style’ is his compensation for the lack, as ‘culture is a compensation for the frustrations attendant upon biological life.’

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