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Eliot and the Shudder

Frank Kermode: The Shudder, 13 May 2010

... Tennyson was not a poet for whom T.S. Eliot professed much love, though he was judicious as well as cool in his appraisals: ‘He has three qualities which are seldom found together except in the greatest poets: abundance, variety and complete competence.’ (He means ‘they must be like Dante.’) And ‘he had the finest ear of any English poet since Milton’ – an opinion that loses warmth when one recalls what Eliot said elsewhere about Milton ...


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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... or confusion. ‘Perhaps you like me too much.’ Liking too much is dangerous to the state, as Tennyson may have felt with Hallam and Housman with Moses Jackson. Because I liked you better Than suits a man to say ... Girls with girls were ever more forthcoming, their advances a compliment rather than an ...

Tongue breaks

Emily Wilson: Sappho, 8 January 2004

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho 
by Anne Carson.
Virago, 397 pp., £12.99, November 2003, 1 84408 081 1
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The Sappho History 
by Margaret Reynolds.
Palgrave, 311 pp., £19.99, May 2003, 0 333 97170 1
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Sappho's Leap 
by Erica Jong.
Norton, 320 pp., $24.95, May 2003, 0 393 05761 5
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... useful and stimulating readings of particular poems and images. One of the best chapters is on Tennyson. She suggests compellingly that his early interest in Sappho was connected to his relationship with Arthur Hallam, and that he discovered his own identity as a poet partly through his rewritings of Sappho. The chapter ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 15 September 1983

M.R. James: An Informal Portrait 
by Michael Cox.
Oxford, 268 pp., £14.50, June 1983, 0 19 211765 3
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... persons; there was endless leisure for the ‘gossip and badinage’ which, according to Charles Tennyson, formed the staple of talk among his intimates; admitted among these was always at least a select number of undergraduates whose friendship, more often than not, he retained throughout life. In later years the scene darkened. There was an intellectual ...

Sic transit Marshall McLuhan

Frank Kermode, 17 March 1988

Letters of Marshall McLuhan 
edited by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan and William Toye.
Oxford, 562 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 540594 3
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... so. And though he wrote many literary-critical articles, including a rather celebrated piece on Tennyson and Hallam, none of his full-length books was, like the Nashe, a literary study. ‘I feel I must first make my mark as a “scholar” in Eng Lit,’ he explained, ‘before seriously embarking on any other ...

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