Frank Lentricchia

Frank Lentricchia teaches at Duke University in North Carolina.

Story: ‘Islas Malvinas’

Frank Lentricchia, 1 April 1999

‘As we grow older,’ Lucchesi says at sixty, alone, at his desk, ‘we grow more extremely ourselves. Contact depresses us; conversation debilitates.’ Words spoken with forced eloquence, like a bad classical actor in an old movie. And yet, except for hiding himself behind collective pronouns, Lucchesi spoke sincerely. Forced eloquence had long since become second nature to him, there in his cramped writing room, where the writing no longer comes, and where he now makes desperate calls at all hours, to contact those he’d barely known in his early schooldays, and hasn’t seen since. Only names now, at the farthest edge of memory; names dragging reluctant images of fresh faces, in black and white, of ten, and 12, and 14-year-olds.‘

A recessed bachelor, living with his parents in the great American heartland, seeing no one but family. He alone, Thomas Lucchesi, the relentless reader and rumoured writer among them, would journey beyond his small city’s environs, often to distant and remote parts of the country, but only to succour dying friends – chums he’d not seen since college days, who had long since been cultivated by the intimate revelations of his correspondence. At the hour of extremity, he would travel at considerable expense, this man of scant means, to hold the hand of the about-to-be-dead, actually to hold the hand, and deliver words of reassurance so soothing that a palpable unburdening was achieved. ‘In a most unusual way,’ he would say, ‘because of you, I am who I am: because of you, who so inhabit my innermost life.’ Later, the grateful children of the recently departed, needing to retrieve his miraculous presence, would write to him, enclosing photos of their own children, gifts and mementos of the dead parent. He would acknowledge nothing.’‘

No More Whining

Frank Lentricchia, 3 April 1997

‘The Los Angeles Police Department has framed a guilty man.’ Among the jokes spawned by the trials of O.J. Simpson, that one may tell the most truth.


Degrees of Admiration

5 October 1995

In his disappointed review of Modernist Quartet, David Trotter claims that he admires me ‘greatly’ as a critic (LRB, 5 October 1995). He makes the following claims: 1. That I represent Frost by a ‘handful of short poems’. In fact, I discuss over thirty of Frost’s poems. 2. That Eliot is represented by ‘“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and The Waste Land only’. Apparently, he never...

Call me Ahab: Moby-Dick

Jeremy Harding, 31 October 2002

The noises of the sperm whale are unlike the lyric hootings and musings of the humpback, whose ‘songs’ won him a place in the LP charts in the 1970s. Recordings of the humpback were...

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Saved for Jazz

David Trotter, 5 October 1995

There are some curious aspects to Frank Lentricchia’s study of four Modernist poets: T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens. For a start, it’s a book about poets...

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Oh my oh my oh my

John Lanchester, 12 September 1991

In this century there has been, running alongside the motif of the writer as drunk, another motif of the writer as anchorite, as recluse, as invisible man, as absconder from celebrity. The...

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Who can blame him?

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1990

‘Something is happening to the way we think,’ said Clifford Geertz in 1980, and Stanley Fish is right to add that Geertz was partly responsible for the shift. But Fish, in a bold essay...

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