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An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi, 21 February 1985

The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... In parts of our literary culture the idea of the self is derided as a bourgeois fabrication, ripe for deconstruction. But most readers remain very attached to selves, their own and other people’s, and like reading about them in biographies and autobiographies. Such books are evidently popular with publishers, and accounts of them regularly fill the review columns of the Sunday papers ...
Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 240 pp., £25, February 1990, 0 19 812852 5
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Professing Literature: An Institutional History 
by Gerald Graff.
Chicago, 315 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 226 30604 6
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... and brilliance – with all their doubts and hesitations – could safely be left to the authors. Bernard Bergonzi’s early career has some resemblances to Arber’s. Bergonzi left school before the age of 16 to work as a junior clerk in an obscure London publishing firm. He credits his recruitment as a ...


Philip Davis: Thomas Arnold’s Apostasies, 15 April 2004

A Victorian Wanderer: The Life of Thomas Arnold the Younger 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 274 pp., £25, July 2003, 0 19 925741 8
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... twice – in the danger to his marriage to Julia, the anti-Catholic he had married in New Zealand. Bernard Bergonzi’s description of Thomas Arnold the Younger as a ‘Victorian Wanderer’ is borrowed from Arnold’s own autobiography, Passages in a Wandering Life, but there is far more feverish guilt and self-contradiction in his life than the term ...


Graham Hough, 5 March 1981

by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 218 pp., £5.25, March 1981, 0 571 11713 9
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The Noble Enemy 
by Charles Fox.
Granada, 383 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 246 11452 5
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The Roman Persuasion 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 297 77927 3
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... written by professors of English literature in Midland universities has received an accession. Bernard Bergonzi’s The Roman Persuasion is attended by so many coincidental links to David Lodge’s recent How far can you go? that to remark on them is almost unavoidable. By ‘links’ I don’t mean influence, for they are books of very different ...


Frank Kermode, 22 May 1986

Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement 
by C.K. Stead.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 333 37457 6
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The Myth of Modernism and 20th-century Literature 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Harvester, 216 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7108 1002 4
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The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature and the Arts 
by Roger Shattuck.
Faber, 362 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 571 12071 7
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... to look at these questions as they come up in the other arts is only very scantily honoured. Bergonzi’s book is, as one has come to expect of his work, temperate, judicious and open-minded. It is a collection of reviews with an introduction in which he makes some sensible remarks about the Modernist problem, noting that the emergence of Modernism as a ...

Flying Mud

Patrick Parrinder, 8 April 1993

The Invisible Man: The Life and Liberties of H.G. Wells 
by Michael Coren.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 7475 1158 6
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... essayist that Wells (or part of him) was to become after 1900, it was an explosive mixture. Bernard Bergonzi once explained what happened to Wells at the turn of the century by saying that his acceptance of a collectivist ideology destroyed the autonomy of his imagination. In other words, Wells would have been a better artist if he had not meddled ...

Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages 
by Harold Bloom.
Harcourt Brace, 578 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 15 195747 9
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... of English will become departments of cultural studies (this is something like the point Bernard Bergonzi made in his Exploding English) and the old style of literary study will survive, if at all, on the level of the modern Classics department. Even there it won’t be possible to develop in students ‘an authentic passion for ...

Saint Terence

Jonathan Bate, 23 May 1991

Ideology: An Introduction 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 242 pp., £32.50, May 1991, 0 86091 319 8
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... in the view that Eagleton is still a Cambridge man: in his essay ‘The Terry Eagleton Story’, Bernard Bergonzi pointed to the end of Literary Theory: An Introduction, with its expressed preference for ‘specific, living and practical democracy’ over the abstractions of the ballot box (‘specific’ and ‘living’, those Leavisite ...

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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... of different theories’. Colin MacCabe refers to ‘the cultural supremacism of Leavis’. Bernard Bergonzi traces the development of Leavis’s attitude to Eliot’s poetry and criticism, and shows how Leavis used Blake and Lawrence as sticks with which to beat Eliot. ‘What Leavis does to Eliot in The Living Principle looks like a mode of ...

Whisky out of Teacups

Stefan Collini: David Lodge, 19 February 2015

Quite a Good Time to Be Born: A Memoir, 1935-75 
by David Lodge.
Harvill Secker, 488 pp., £25, January 2015, 978 1 84655 950 1
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Lives in Writing: Essays 
by David Lodge.
Vintage, 262 pp., £10.99, January 2015, 978 0 09 958776 7
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... For example, he recalls first encountering Frank Kermode in 1961: At the Cambridge conference he [Bernard Bergonzi] introduced me to Frank Kermode and as a result I found myself sitting with a group late one evening in somebody’s room, sipping whisky out of teacups and bathroom mugs, listening to Frank discoursing in his relaxed, drily amusing ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... manner, a manner as blunt and accessible as in Herbert’s poetry or Aubrey’s prose. As Bernard Bergonzi shows in an acute and learned essay, Davie has had a long love-hate relationship with Ezra Pound, the poet par excellence of International Modernism. Davie once agreed with Leavis that Pound had ‘no real understanding of culture or ...

Old Literature and its Enemies

Claude Rawson, 25 April 1991

The Death of Literature 
by Alvin Kernan.
Yale, 230 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 300 04783 5
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Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia, Genealogy and Tradition 
by Alasdair MacIntyre.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 7156 2337 0
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Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man 
by David Lehman.
Poseidon, 318 pp., $21.95, February 1991, 0 671 68239 3
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... of a cover of respectability. A version of the idea of dividing the territory has been offered in Bernard Bergonzi’s recent book, Exploding English. His arrangement would give the opposition all literature except poetry and Elizabethan and Jacobean poetic drama. This scenario is a compromise without any visible rationale other than the time-honoured ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... the magazine. It was taken up in a TLS editorial; there was also a big Guardian piece about it, by Bernard Bergonzi. I’ve lots of cuttings; at that time I used to keep cuttings. In the next issue there was a long essay by Colin, ‘Dreams and Responsibilities’, about Al’s New Poetry anthology which was as near to a manifesto as the magazine ever ...

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