E.S. Shaffer

E.S. Shaffer author of, ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘The Fall of Jerusalem’, edits the new journal Comparative Criticism. She is preparing a study of Shakespeare and the Romantic Drama.

Out of Germany

E.S. Shaffer, 2 October 1980

Rosemary Ashton traces the impact of some German writers, especially Goethe, on the British periodicals and on four writers, Coleridge, Carlyle, Eliot and Lewes; Geoffrey Hartman ranges widely through 19th and 20th-century criticism in pursuit of the idea of philosophic criticism, as it derived from Friedrich Schlegel and his German contemporaries. For both authors to a remarkable degree the central figure is Carlyle. For Mrs Ashton, Carlyle is the supreme publicist, not of ‘the German idea’, but of the British image of German literature as put about by the periodicals: for this book is largely about the art of the publicist, and not about ideas, German or otherwise. For Hartman, Carlyle is a vivid and living presence in modern criticism, through his influence on Emerson, who from a standpoint current in the United States is recognised as the seminal voice in American philosophic criticism. It is with such living ideas that Hartman, like Arnold, is concerned, and he succeeds in tracing its pulse down to our own time, and in suggesting stimulating solutions to contemporary critical dilemmas.

Hitler at Heathrow

E.S. Shaffer, 7 August 1980

As the unwary traveller hurries into Heathrow’s international bookstall hoping to light on a good read for the plane, his eye is assaulted by a thwacking array of swastikas on black, gold and blood-red fields. Approaching them at random but with a certain circumspection, he finds, for example, Philippe van Rindt’s The Trial of Adolf Hitler, in which it is revealed that Hitler survived his attempts at suicide in the bunker; The Murder of Rudolf Hess, by Hess’s Spandau doctor, demonstrating that the prisoner who the other day celebrated his 85th birthday is not Hess at all, but a small Nazi only too glad to avoid vengeance from his fellows by impersonating the great in perpetual concealment; James Pool and Suzanne Pool’s Who financed Hitler?, which opens with a luxurious gathering of bankers and party ‘higher-ups’ with their sleek women, just a shade less exotic than the gathering in a Japanese restaurant of Spanish-speaking kameraden that begins The Boys from Brazil. He finds Isser Harel’s deadpan account of the tracking and capture of Eichmann in The House on Garibaldi Street; Richard Deacon, The Israeli Secret Service, which tells the story, among others, of Wolfgang Lotz, the Israeli spy with unassailably Aryan looks who infiltrated Egyptian government circles to get plans for rocket sites and the names of German technicians: a story familiar from The Odessa File, where the private dick with the black and yellow-striped Mercedes is obliged to display his uncircumcised penis to the Odessa chief as bona fides.

Comparative Everything

Geoffrey Strickland, 6 March 1980

It is not the fault of the contributors to this volume, or even of the editor, if it reminds one of Dr Johnson’s objection to the yoking together by violence of heterogeneous ideas.

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