John Lucas

John Lucas most recent book is Romantic to Modern Literature: Essays and Ideas of Culture 1750-1900. He is Professor of English and Drama at Loughborough University.



1 July 2015

Ian Penman is probably right to say that in the mid-1940s ‘vocalists had little real power: they were smiley, yes-sir emblems over the arch of touring big bands’ (LRB, 2 July). Sinatra was no yes-sir emblem, though Penman hardly does justice to the way the singer said ‘No’ – if not in thunder, then in deed. In 1943, as Martin Smith notes in When Ol’ Blue Eyes Was a Red, Sinatra had himself...


26 July 1990

Tom Shippey (LRB, 26 July) wonders where I can have been in recent years if I think that the English press praise ‘England’ when matters go well at football, but blame the ‘British’ when they go badly. Well, actually I’ve been living in England and noting that this slippage does indeed occur. Admittedly it’s happened far less often in the last two years, since my book went to press, and...
Towards the end of his sharply-focused review of Chinua Achebe’s book of essays Hopes and Impediments, Craig Raine remarks that ‘all minorities will treat representations of themselves as typical, whereas art deals with actualities, and not necessarily with truth and justice.’ I don’t think he means to suggest that blacks are a minority, but it is odd to imply that what is actual may be untrue....
SIR: Martin Dodsworth is running for cover. He now says (Letters, 7 November) that when he disagreed with Tom Paulin’s pronunciation of ‘twilight’ he was merely wondering whether Paulin had been spending his time among ‘speakers of some other language – French, perhaps, or German’. In fact, he originally invited Paulin to consult the OED, if there was ‘no experienced speaker of English’...

Fallen Language

21 June 1984

SIR: Donald Davie may well be right to say (LRB, 21 June) that I have no firm footing for distinguishing ‘acceptable from unacceptable depravities (decadent refinements) that British English, at Geoffrey Hill’s hands, indulges in’. But the point I was trying to make – admittedly an obvious one – is that language belongs within and is an expression of history. Matthew Arnold wanted the poet...

In 1916, D.H. Lawrence wrote to Lady Cynthia Asquith of his abiding ‘sadness’: ‘for my country, for this great wave of civilisation, 2000 years, which is now collapsing’....

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Tom Shippey, 26 July 1990

‘Of all nations’, writes Ian Ousby, ‘we’, the English, have ‘perhaps the most strongly defined sense of national identity – so developed and so stylised, in...

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Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Till recently, I’ve dodged most of Peter Reading’s work. He seemed so much the darling of the TLS and of a metropolitan circle whose powerfully disseminated views it is often...

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