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Modern Masters

Frank Kermode, 24 May 1990

Where I fell to Earth: A Life in Four Places 
by Peter Conrad.
Chatto, 252 pp., £16, February 1990, 0 7011 3490 9
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May Week was in June 
by Clive James.
Cape, 249 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 224 02787 5
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... as slightly odd, was an interesting man, among other things a perfectly sane and bold gardener. Graham Hough, who won his pupil’s respect while trying to supervise a non-existent graduate thesis, is bafflingly and offensively described as ‘saintly’. But James wasn’t much interested in dons except in so far as they were legitimate subjects for ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... book would be much diminished if it were to lose its other men’s flowers. The university teacher Graham Hough wrote a strong letter to the New Statesman to say: ‘There will remain to the Labour Party the glory of messing up the grammar schools, the oldest and best of English educational institutions; and of continuing the 19th-century public school ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... to affront the Provost of King’s, Mrs Bennett’ – wife of his enemy at Emmanuel – ‘and Mr Hough.’ These were people he had a variety of reasons for not liking. But he also had reasons at least as strong for disliking the editors of the Times Literary Supplement (successively Alan Pryce-Jones, Arthur Crook and John Gross) and indeed held the whole ...

What Philosophers Dream Of

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Bernard Williams, 2 July 2015

Essays and Reviews 1959-2002 
by Bernard Williams.
Princeton, 435 pp., £24.95, January 2014, 978 0 691 15985 0
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... might live otherwise, are ever present. This apart, Williams’s pieces have a further attraction. Graham Hough said of William Empson’s essays that they have a life of their own, independent of influence: they move beyond what Hough described as literature of information and instruction towards a ‘literature of ...

The heart of standing is you cannot fly

Frank Kermode: Empson and Obscurity, 22 June 2000

The Complete Poems of William Empson 
edited by John Haffenden.
Allen Lane, 410 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 7139 9287 5
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... of the mismatch between desire and reality, or, simply, of the tragedy of being in the world. Graham Hough, in an obituary published in this journal, remarked that ‘it is often the case that what comes across to most readers as an intricate intellectual puzzle was experienced as a painful knot of feeling,’ and the poet’s friend G.S. Fraser ...

With a Da bin ich!

Seamus Perry: Properly Lawrentian, 9 September 2021

Burning Man: The Ascent of D.H. Lawrence 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 488 pp., £25, May, 978 1 4088 9362 3
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... interested in the creativity of the uglier emotions. The excellent and now rather neglected critic Graham Hough once observed that ‘compensation for his own failures and deficiencies’ was one of the main engines driving Lawrence’s novels (his poems are a different matter) and Wilson’s version of Dante provides the prototype for an imagination ...
The Movement: English Poetry and Fiction of the 1950s 
by Blake Morrison.
Oxford, 326 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780192122100
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The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse 1945-1980 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 299 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 19 214108 2
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... books on diction and syntax were respectfully received. At the end of the decade an academic, Graham Hough, spelt out in his Image and Experience the view that modernism was an interruption of the native tradition, cogently questioning the method by which Eliot and Pound claimed to have built structures dependent upon a ‘logic of ...

Sod off, readers

John Sutherland, 26 September 1991

Rude Words: A Discursive History of the London Library 
by John Wells.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, September 1991, 0 333 47519 4
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Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English 
by Geoffrey Hughes.
Blackwell, 283 pp., £16.95, August 1991, 0 631 16593 2
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... the London Review of Books (21 November 1985), Professor Terence Hawkes curtly dismissed Professor Graham Hough with the words “piss off.” ’ According to Hughes, ‘Hawkes’s notoriously churlish performance combined cowardice with insult, since his whole letter was, technically, directed to the editor, who was thereby obliged, amongst other ...

Unreasoning Vigour

Stefan Collini: Ian Watt, 9 May 2019

Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic 
by Marina MacKay.
Oxford, 228 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 882499 2
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... a wary distance’. One of the things we learned from Freud, according to the literary critic Graham Hough, is to see ‘what might appear to be a rather perverse literary device’ as meeting an unobvious need: ‘The elaboration of a raw personal situation into a form in which it can be more readily accepted is not a matter of evasiveness or ...

Jolly Jack and the Preacher

Patrick Parrinder, 20 April 1989

A Culture for Democracy: Mass Communication and the Cultivated Mind in Britain between the Wars 
by D.L. LeMahieu.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, June 1988, 0 19 820137 0
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... half-century of English literary criticism which can measure up to its avant-garde credentials. As Graham Hough once observed, there is a demonic element in Lawrence (and in the other great Modernists) which will never be absorbed by bourgeois society – but this plays no part in LeMahieu’s picture. For him, Modernism is a church broad enough to ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... is happier with particular occasions of interpretation: adjudicating the performances of Leavis, Graham Hough and Cleanth Brooks on ‘Tears, Idle Tears’; and of Jonathan Culler and Terence Hawkes on William Carlos Williams’s ‘This is Just to Say’. Theories of Structuralism make Gribble particularly angry. He quotes a bit from Roland Barthes ...

A Sort of Nobody

Michael Wood, 9 May 1996

Not Entitled: A Memoir 
by Frank Kermode.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £18, May 1996, 0 00 255519 0
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... As many people have pointed out, the first of them probably being Kermode’s fierce friend Graham Hough, evil is not redeemed by scepticism but rather compounded, and we judge it to be evil by criteria which have nothing to do with belief. Yet a decent person bothered by old lies might well see the success of lying as the chief ethical issue, and ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson, 20 January 2011

The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
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... on earth prematurely, ‘the herald of a higher race’, and so proved too good for this life. Graham Hough once wrote very wittily about so fantastical a use of evolutionary theory: everyone agreed that Hallam was a remarkable young man, but few even of his keenest admirers would have said he was the next step on the evolutionary ladder. Yet it is ...

Drugs, anyone?

Seamus Perry: George Meredith, 18 June 2015

Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads 
by George Meredith, edited by Criscillia Benford and Rebecca Mitchell.
Yale, 390 pp., £40, April 2015, 978 0 300 17317 8
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... of personality’ and so offers a lesson in ‘self-forgetfulness divine’. The gifted critic Graham Hough once singled out this sort of ‘glad act of identification with the non-human energies’ as a key to Meredith, which makes him something like the Shelley of ‘Mont Blanc’ or ‘Ode to the West Wind’, except that a mountain or a wind in ...

Getting it right

Frank Kermode, 7 May 1981

Interpretation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Literary Criticism 
by P.D. Juhl.
Princeton, 332 pp., £11.20, January 1981, 0 691 07242 6
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... Finnegans Wake. All are speech acts, and to be interpreted as speech acts are. He takes a look at Graham Hough’s attractive proposal that we may detect an original ‘illocutionary act’ but must then go on to interpret an ‘achieved meaning’ that is typically unintended: but he rejects it in what one comes to think of as his usual way – that ...

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