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The Soul of Man under Psychoanalysis

Adam Phillips: ‘The Soul of Man under Psychoanalysis’, 29 November 2001

... desires, and one’s refinement rises up like a wall whenever opportunity approaches. T.S. Eliot to Conrad Aiken, 31 December 1914 Writing a London Letter for the Dial in September 1922, T.S. Eliot suggested that there were ‘at present . . . three main types of English novel’. There was the ‘old narrative ...
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered 
by William Pritchard.
Oxford, 186 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 19 503462 7
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... still beckoned aspiring American poets. Ezra Pound arrived in 1908, Robert Frost in 1912, and T.S. Eliot in 1914. When Pound arrived he was only 23, Eliot was 26, but Frost was almost 39. He had been writing poetry, most of it unpublished, for some twenty years, and the difference in style was striking. Set beside the early ...

Distraction v. Attraction

Barbara Everett: Ashbery, Larkin and Eliot, 27 June 2002

... may be too subjective a sense, to span the period from the birth of Whitman to the death of T.S. Eliot. It could be said that before Whitman, no American poet of real gifts wrote American literature; and after Eliot, none wrote anything else. Between these two points, two cultures, already to different degrees and in ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... Lyndall Gordon suggests that later in life, visited by moods in which evil seemed everywhere, T.S. Eliot sometimes suspected the man he too had once thought holy was in fact diabolic. Reading Williams, you can sometimes see what Eliot meant. Williams seems to believe in the magic he so frequently describes; you suspect that ...

Bouvard and Pécuchet

C.H. Sisson, 6 December 1984

The Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters: Correspondence of George Lyttelton and Rupert Hart-Davis. 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 193 pp., £13.50, April 1984, 0 7195 4108 5
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... anything in the wide field in which he has interested himself. We even find him advising T.S. Eliot to refuse ‘that ridiculous award’, the Companion of Literature, offered by that ‘miserable institution’ the Royal Society of Literature. He was a member of the General Advisory Council of the BBC as well as a spirit it would surely be right to call ...

In Herne Bay

Brian Dillon: Duchamp, 29 August 2013

... coast of Kent is dotted with these historical connections to 20th-century experimentalists. T.S. Eliot recovering at Margate is the best known. (As at least one local wag has spotted, there is no tribute to Eliot attached to the seafront shelter where he composed The Waste Land, but it is close by the anagrammatic ...

It’s great to change your mind

Christopher Ricks, 7 February 1985

Using Biography 
by William Empson.
Chatto, 259 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2889 5
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Seven Types of Ambiguity 
by William Empson.
Hogarth, 258 pp., £4.95, September 1984, 0 7012 0556 3
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Collected Poems 
by William Empson.
Hogarth, 119 pp., £3.95, September 1984, 0 7012 0555 5
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... poetry like that.’ Using Biography is devoted to six authors: Marvell, Dryden, Fielding, Yeats, Eliot and Joyce. The central essays had been printed before, but are here revised and supplemented. Three related principles unify the book, all argued for and all good-naturedly shocked at the pretty pass to which things have come. First, that the knowledge of ...


Adam Phillips: Christopher Ricks, 22 July 2010

True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht and Robert Lowell under the Sign of Eliot and Pound 
by Christopher Ricks.
Yale, 258 pp., £16.99, February 2010, 978 0 300 13429 2
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... a prefatory note to this book about three late 20th-century poets and what they owe to Pound and Eliot, ‘it doesn’t seem to me that my arguments and appreciations, as appreciative argument, derive from or depend upon personal friendship or personal feelings. I have published for more than 40 years my gratitude for Hill’s art and for Lowell’s, and for ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... treatment wouldn’t have worked in poetry, though, if it hadn’t been able to pass the Nigella Test – you need somebody foxy and energetic to head up the whole operation, or it’s dead before it starts. Thankfully, there’s Daisy Goodwin, who has lovely dark hair and perfect teeth: just the person to encourage the use of poetry as a kind of mental ...


Frank Kermode, 4 April 1996

Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 224 03026 4
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... wife of the actor Miles Malleson, wrote a novel à clef in which a character based on T.S. Eliot called Russell ‘a man exhausting other men by his intellect; exhausting women by his intensity; wearing out his friends, sucking them dry, passing from person to person, never giving any real happiness – or finding any.’ It is clear from his ...

Degree of Famousness etc

Peter Howarth: Don Paterson, 21 March 2013

Selected Poems 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 169 pp., £14.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28178 7
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... campaign with the dumbest, shortest poem the committee can find, set in 50-point bold’. His T.S. Eliot Lecture that year widened the definition to include chicken-soup anthologisers, Harold Pinter’s righteously angry protest verse, and any poetic therapist who mistakes ‘the jargon of self-help’ for the tough process of writing. By trying to make poetry ...

Uncle Wiz

Stefan Collini: Auden, 16 July 2015

Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. V: 1963-68 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 561 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. VI: 1969-73 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 790 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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... acknowledgment of the scattered incompleteness of experience constituted, for him, an important test of a writer’s humility before the sheer solidity of the empirical. This anthologising impulse made for a distinctive reviewing style. He could, when he chose, be conscientious enough about giving a report on a book’s contents, but increasingly he just ...


John Bayley, 2 February 1989

The Lost Voices of World War One: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets and Playwrights 
edited by Tim Cross.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 7475 0276 5
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by Paul Celan, translated by Michael Hamburger.
Anvil, 350 pp., £15.95, January 1989, 0 85646 198 9
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Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War Two Aviator 
by Samuel Hynes.
Bloomsbury, 270 pp., £13.95, November 1988, 0 7475 0333 8
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... as Gustav Sack and Hans Leybold, received from the conflict its decisive authority. If T.S. Eliot had succeeded in joining the American Navy in 1917 and been sunk in action, the most important poem to come out of the war would not have been written. Trakl, who trained as a pharmacist before the war in order to have unlimited access to drugs, died of a ...


John Mullan: Eric Griffiths, 23 May 2019

If Not Critical 
by Eric Griffiths, edited by Freya Johnston.
Oxford, 248 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 880529 8
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The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry 
by Eric Griffiths.
Oxford, 351 pp., £55, July 2018, 978 0 19 882701 6
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... as progressively enlightened.’) In the Leavisite manner, he talks as if the best writing were a test of the reader, but unlike Leavis he loves the energy of talk. These lectures are most enjoyable for their unashamed, occasionally shameless, exploitation of colloquial affects. They are rich in clichés and idioms, gleefully twisted or misapplied. Giving ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012, 3 January 2013

... the school I went to from 1946 until 1952, as a grammar school though I suppose it was. It wasn’t so self-conscious and pleased with itself as most of the schools that feature and the range of ability for which it catered seems in retrospect so wide it might well have been a comprehensive school before its time. Nor was it in the least bit snobbish as so ...

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