Omdamniverous

Ian Sansom

  • Injury Time: A Memoir by D.J. Enright
    Pimlico, 183 pp, £12.50, May 2003, ISBN 1 84413 315 X

This is the end of something – although of what exactly it’s not quite clear. The death of D.J. Enright, in December 2002, makes one ask some serious questions about poets and about critics. To put it bluntly: there will be no more books from Dennis Enright. Does it matter? Should we be sad? Should we be bothered?

Writing in the LRB just over twenty years ago, the near-omniscient Donald Davie pre-empted these questions and delivered a cruel judgment. Davie was reviewing Enright’s Collected Poems, and was both pertinent and impertinent in his comments, a combination characteristic both of petty gods and of literary critics trained in the Leavis and the Eliot manner, in whom the insistence on apparently high standards and high seriousness often produces outbursts of scorn that detract from anything serious they might want to say. As soon as you’ve raised your voice, one sometimes wishes to remind these great undead vorpal sword-wielders, you’ve lost the argument. Utmost power knows when to stay its hand.

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