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Rules, Rules

Hugh Kenner, 18 July 1996

The Oxford English Grammar 
by Sidney Greenbaum.
Oxford, 652 pp., £25, February 1996, 0 19 861250 8
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... Grammar could once seem synonymous with all learning, including magic and astrology; hence French grimoire (book of spells) and English glamour. But as early as the 14th century its OED sense 1.a had emerged: That department of the study of a language which deals with its inflexional forms, or other means of indicating the relations of words in the sentence, and with the rules for deploying these in accordance with established usage: usually also the department which deals with the phonetic system of the language and the principles of its representation in writing ...

Impersonality

Barbara Everett, 10 November 1988

A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Barrie and Jenkins, 290 pp., £16.95, September 1988, 0 7126 2197 0
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... degree to which the piece of recall failed to affect the novel in any way. Amis is mentioned in Hugh Kenner’s A Sinking Island – which is to say that like Hughes and Heaney his name appears briefly without discussion (Larkin himself gets a dismissive page or two); and they all feature as examples of what happens to a culture when it gives way to ...

Two Poems

Carl Rakosi, 28 November 2002

... Written when Zukofsky was being showered with praise for the impenetrable portions of his work. Hugh Kenner, the distinguished critic, wrote that it would take a generation to plumb its ...

Pwaise the wabbit

Claudia Johnson, 1 August 1996

Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings 
by Hugh Kenner.
California, 114 pp., £12, September 1994, 0 520 08797 6
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... Hugh Kenner’s lively Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings belongs to the ‘Portraits of American Genius’ series launched two years ago by the University of California Press with the intention of celebrating American creativity. Books about Toni Morrison and Miles Davis will strike no one as unusual, although the volumes on Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and Mabel McKay, a native American medicine woman, were less conventional ...

Homage to Ezra Pound

C.K. Stead, 19 March 1981

The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound 
by Michael Alexander.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.95, April 1979, 0 571 10560 2
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Ezra Pound and the Pisan Cantos 
by Anthony Woodward.
Routledge, 128 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 7100 0372 2
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Ezra Pound and the Cantos: A Record of Struggle 
by Wendy Stallard Flory.
Yale, 321 pp., £12.60, July 1980, 0 300 02392 8
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Ezra Pound and His World 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Thames and Hudson, 127 pp., £5.95, February 1981, 0 500 13069 8
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End to Torment: A Memoir of Ezra Pound with Poems from Ezra Pound’s H.D. Book 
edited by Norman Holmes Pearson and Michael King.
Carcanet, 84 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85635 318 3
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... precedent of Pound. And, second, there were a few devoted but enormously able scholars, notably Hugh Kenner, but also (and strangely, considering his origins in the neo-Augustan ‘Movement’ of the Fifties) Donald Davie, who kept the subject respectable, the interest alive. Michael Alexander suggests that ‘indifference and bafflement are today more ...
Literature and Popular Culture in 18th-Century England 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 215 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0981 6
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Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Studies in Literature and Society in the Age of Walpole 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 173 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0986 7
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Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in 18th-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper 
by Claude Rawson.
Allen and Unwin, 431 pp., £30, August 1985, 0 04 800019 1
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Jonathan Swift 
edited by Angus Ross and David Woolley.
Oxford, 722 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 19 281337 4
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... of the period have been resorting to more oblique procedures. In 1968, in The Counterfeiters, Hugh Kenner turned 18th-century ideas into systems, and derived a comedy of entrapment from the spectacle of men coping somehow with systems designed to suit other people. Install a man in an ill-fitting system, and you may witness that discrepancy between ...

Scots wha hae gone to England

Donald Davie, 9 July 1992

Devolving English Literature 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 320 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198112983
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Scottish Poetry 
edited by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 424 pp., £17.50, July 1992, 9780571154319
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... unfair – was A Sinking Island (1987) by another chip-shouldering excolonial, the Canadian Hugh Kenner. Crawford doesn’t like Kenner’s book: naturally not, since Kenner, convicting the whole insula of insularity, conspicuously doesn’t exonerate any Scots from the ...

Roaring Boy

Adam Phillips: Hart Crane, 30 September 1999

The Broken Tower: A Life of Hart Crane 
by Paul Mariani.
Norton, 492 pp., $35, April 1999, 0 393 04726 1
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O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane 
edited by Langdon Hammer and Brom Weber.
Four Walls Eight Windows, 562 pp., $35, July 1997, 0 941423 18 2
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... poems could only be approached biographically. Comparing Crane’s ‘epics’ with Zukofsky’s, Hugh Kenner wrote, in his once canonical The Pound Era: ‘The Bridge yields only to nutcrackers, “A” to reading.’ There was certainly something that Crane’s poems wouldn’t let you do to them. Crane produced two prodigious books of poetry, White ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Little Magazines in Canberra, 9 July 1987

... In its current issue Scripsi prints a sprightly but essentially rancorous piece by the Canadian Hugh Kenner on the subject of British poetry, post World War Two. Not a very big subject, in Kenner’s view, since the whole thing stopped with Charles Tomlinson and Basil Bunting and is only spuriously ‘kept ...

What was left out

Lawrence Rainey: Eliot’s Missing Letters, 3 December 2009

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. I: 1898-1922 
edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton.
Faber, 871 pp., £35, November 2009, 978 0 571 23509 4
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... Pound’s Selected Letters, mistakenly translated the date as 24 December. His error was noted by Hugh Kenner in 1973, but his correction escaped Valerie Eliot’s attention, and she repeated the mistaken date in the first edition of 1988. Only now is the letter finally assigned to 24 January 1922. Corrections to the dates of subsequent letters are also ...

Ireland at Swim

Denis Donoghue, 21 April 1983

The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 
edited by M.P. Hederman and R. Kearney, with a preface by Seamus Heaney.
Blackwater Press/Colin Smythe, 930 pp., £25, October 1982, 9780905471136
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A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Knopf, 352 pp., $16.95, April 1983, 0 394 42225 2
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... the two languages, the available rhetorics. I have been reading The Crane Bag in association with Hugh Kenner’s new book, A Colder Eye, a study of the modern Irish writers from Yeats, Joyce and Synge to Beckett and Flann O’Brien. Kenner encourages his reader, an American apparently, to believe that Ireland is a ...

Wayne’s World

Ian Sansom, 6 July 1995

Selected Poems 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Penguin, 151 pp., £5.99, August 1994, 0 14 058735 7
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... coming to terms with her own death. When they work, such effects are the poetic equivalent of what Hugh Kenner identifies in Joyce’s prose as ‘the Uncle Charles Principle’, named after the Uncle Charles in Ulysses who gets banished to the outhouse to smoke his pipe: ‘Every morning, therefore, Uncle Charles repaired to his outhouse but not before ...

The Reality Effect

Jon Day: 'Did I think this, or was it Lucy Ellmann?', 25 November 2019

Ducks, Newburyport 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Galley Beggar, 1030 pp., £13.99, September 2019, 978 1 913111 98 4
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... this fragmentary jumble of thoughts, images, sensations and memories, rammed together in a style Hugh Kenner called ‘unmortared’, Joyce came close to inventing a language that seemed to contain the mind’s endless restlessness.Lucy Ellmann’s new novel, Ducks, Newburyport, does not, despite the claims of some reviewers, consist of a single ...

The Hard Life and Poor Best of Cervantes

Gabriel Josipovici, 20 December 1979

Cervantes 
by William Byron.
Cassell, 583 pp., £9.95
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... no new facts have come to light to alter the picture. A better idea might be to follow the lead of Hugh Kenner, as Donald Howard is now doing, writing an account not of Chaucer but of the Chaucer era, ‘an X-ray moving picture of how our epoch was created from the medieval’, as he puts it, echoing Kenner on Pound. To ...

The Case for Geoffrey Hill

Tom Paulin, 4 April 1985

Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Work 
edited by Peter Robinson.
Open University, 259 pp., £18, March 1985, 0 335 10588 2
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... concept of national loyalty, it is possible to read much of his verse as a protest against what Hugh Haughton terms ‘the indignity of King Log’. Haughton argues that Hill seems to yearn ‘for real authority and real title, the kind of transcendence embodied in a language of kingship derived from the past and earlier power-relations’. It is a serious ...

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