Michael Fried

Michael Fried’s books of poems include To the Centre of the Earth. He is the Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Poem: ‘The Tunnel’: A Poem

Michael Fried, 6 February 2003

To be nothing but fire not even the fuel that feeds it

wasn’t my father’s style. When the time came for him to die

(of a cirrhotic liver caused by poisoned blood

flushed through him one winter dawn to fight a bleeding ulcer)

he found a stone wall with, at its base, a tunnel

just too narrow to admit a man. Undaunted he crawled through

hand over hand to the other side.

‘What a bitch of a thing prose is!’ Flaubert complained in a letter to Louise Colet while at work on Madame Bovary. ‘It is never finished; there is always something to be done...

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The upright canvas, some 4’6’’ by 3’, stood on Salvator Rosa’s easel, prepared with a burnt umber ground. The painter first attacked it, as far as I can see, with a...

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Makeshiftness: Who is Menzel?

Barry Schwabsky, 17 April 2003

Michael Fried, who is also a poet, has a dense, self-questioning, fervent prose style. Somewhat perversely he has, over the last three decades – that is, since his doctoral dissertation on...

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Ravishing Atrocities

Patrick Maynard, 7 January 1988

I said, I once heard a story which I believe, that Leontius the son of Aglaion, on his way up from the Piraeus under the outer side of the northern wall, becoming aware of dead bodies that lay...

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John Barrell, 2 April 1981

A family listening as their father reads them the Bible; a philosopher poring over a book; an artist, who turns his back on us as he draws; a secretary absorbed in taking dictation, and another...

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