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Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... He went down without a degree, failing to get on both with Anglo-Saxon and with his tutor C.S. Lewis, and understandably preferring to spend every afternoon at the cinema. After Oxford, Henry Yorke (to use his proper name) spent two years on the shop floor in the family engineering firm H. Pontifex and Sons. This led to the appearance of Living, his novel ...

Out of the Eater

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Thom Gunn, 6 July 2000

Boss Cupid 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 115 pp., £7.99, March 2000, 0 571 20298 5
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... their scalps in place of hair.         Their origins lost to sight, As they are too, cast out from light.            They should despair. This is finely done, the stanza form handled with confidence, the poem gaining resonance from its place in a collection dominated by poems about relationships within a marginalised community: the ...

Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 September 1980

C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... York. He tells us in an introduction: ‘Now several societies exist for the purpose of studying Lewis’s thoughts; film rights to several of his books have been purchased, and filmed documentaries of his life have been produced; both popular and scholarly books on Lewis are being published with increasing frequency (so ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery’. It was to be compared to Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories, as belonging to ‘a very small class of books which have nothing in common save that each admits us to a world of its own’. The ‘fortunate child’ who was given The Hobbit would have no notion of ‘the deep sources in our ...


A.J.P. Taylor: Magdalen College Portraits, 3 May 1984

... acquired few portraits of fellows particularly of recent years. I can recollect only one of C.S. Lewis and I am not even sure of him. I seemed peculiarly unsuited to receive the honour. Every fellow of Magdalen College is required to be re-elected every five years until he reaches the retiring age of 70 and is normally re-elected without question. During my ...


John Bayley, 29 September 1988

Something to hold onto: Autobiographical Sketches 
by Richard Cobb.
Murray, 168 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4587 0
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... writer’s or artist’s confidence depends on this breadth of appeal; and particularly so in the case of those who have no striking messages or brave new fictional worlds, but are simply offering something to hold onto. In his Introduction Richard Cobb pays tribute to Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield; and it seems as if East Anglia, Essex in ...

Dark Knight

Tom Shippey, 24 February 1994

The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory 
by P.J.C. Field.
Boydell and Brewer, 218 pp., £29.50, September 1993, 0 85991 385 6
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... Darthur itself, Caxton’s ‘noble and joyous hystorye’, and its presumptive author, in C.S. Lewis’s phrase, ‘little better than a criminal’. Actually, Lewis much understated the case. If one goes by the records, slowly unearthed in the Twenties and Thirties by Edward ...

Elizabethan Spirits

William Empson, 17 April 1980

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age 
by Frances Yates.
Routledge, 224 pp., £7.75, November 1979, 9780710003201
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... of her own range of knowledge, and she seems to ignore his views, so I may speak up. C.S. Lewis, in the first chapter of his survey of English 16th-century literature (1954), said that earlier writers had treated magic as fanciful and remote, but in this period they felt it might be going on in the next street; and one reason was a thing they ...

Giant Goody Goody

Edwin Morgan: Fairytales, 24 May 2001

The Complete Fairytales 
by George MacDonald, edited by U.C. Knoepflmacher.
Penguin, 354 pp., January 2000, 0 14 043737 1
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Ventures into Childland: Victorians, Fairytales and Femininity 
by U.C. Knoepflmacher.
Chicago, 444 pp., £24.50, June 2001, 0 226 44816 9
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... end of the century, and has never really recovered, despite enthusiastic recommendations from C.S. Lewis and others, and several positive studies of his work. Even Lewis, keen on MacDonald’s mythopoeic powers as he was, had to admit that the actual writing left a lot to be desired: as far as literature is ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... logic that makes them so. Worse still is the rhetoric that comes out on occasions like this when a case is made against a compulsory core of Old English in the larger English syllabus. This rhetoric is skilful in Cunningham’s hands, less so in a Guardian report, ‘The Beowulf at Oxford’s door’, in which Nicholas de Jongh presented the Oxford ...


Frank Kermode: Angry Young Men, 28 November 2002

The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 7139 9532 7
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... don’t know, that the four elements of the MacSpaunday group – MacNeice, Spender, Auden and Day-Lewis – were only once in the same room together; and there can have been but few occasions when the whole company of Angry Young Men was assembled. Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and John Wain knew one another at Oxford, but had little to do with autodidacts ...

Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Sonnet

Barbara Everett: The Sonnets, 8 May 2008

... to the Signet edition. And it must be this kind of central, classic writing that made C.S. Lewis, in his Oxford history of non-dramatic 16th-century literature, speak of the Sonnets as not just the world’s best love poems, but in some sense its only love poems. By ‘only’, Lewis was possibly thinking in terms of ...
... scholarship: but it is remarkably like Biographia Literaria – of which I once heard C.S. Lewis remark: ‘Clearly a work of genius, but you couldn’t possibly give it a PhD.’ Empson’s critical writing is like a conversation among people who know each other very well, have all read the same books and are prepared to take a great deal for ...


Edward Pearce, 26 July 1990

A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... are out. He loved and was loved by his wife, and in a cruel accident she died. He quotes C.S. Lewis very aptly: ‘Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolation of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t ...


John Bayley, 23 May 1991

The Oxford Book of Friendship 
edited by D.J. Enright and David Rawlinson.
Oxford, 360 pp., £15, April 1991, 0 19 214190 2
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... in its self-awareness, but friendship should be almost insensible, taken for granted? C.S. Lewis, whose way with words can be almost as embarrassing as Forster’s, did not think so. He thought friendship, preferably between men, should be proclaimed as ‘the crown of life’, and he was impatient with its marginalisation as something that ‘fills up ...

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