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5 June 1980
... The death of I.A.Richards has at least endangered an opportunity which he had accepted with eager energy. In 1937, the Chinese Ministry of Education had decided to use Basic English in the schools, for the first years of ...

The Wizard of Finella

E.E. Duncan-Jones

24 January 1985
Mansfield Forbes and his Cambridge 
by Hugh Carey.
Cambridge, 154 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 521 25680 1
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... That Enchanter, Manny Forbes ... spell-binding ... the most saintly spirit ... very bizarre’. So I.A.Richards, in 1973, of his old Cambridge colleague, nearly forty years dead. Today, even in Cambridge, the name of Forbes is no longer one to conjure with, except among the dwindling band who remember his ...

A Good Reason to Murder Your Landlady

Terry Eagleton: I.A. Richards

25 April 2002
I.A. RichardsSelected Works 1919-38 
edited by John Constable.
Routledge, 595 pp., December 2001, 0 415 21731 8
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... Of all the great 20th-century critics, I.A.Richards is perhaps the most neglected. There is a crankish, hobbyhorsical quality to his work, an air of taxonomies and technical agendas which befits the son of a chemical engineer. His transatlantic ...
9 November 1989
Stirrings Still 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 25 pp., £1,000, March 1989, 0 7145 4142 7
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Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 128 pp., £10.95, February 1989, 0 7145 4111 7
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‘Make sense who may’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works 
edited by Robin Davis and Lance Butler.
Smythe, 175 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 86140 286 3
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... Stirrings’ are, among many other things, what poetry can cause in us, as I.A.Richards once noted. In a notorious passage in Practical Criticism, Richards suggested that a good test of a poem’s sincerity would be to meditate for a while on the following topics: 1. Man’s loneliness (the isolation of the human situation). 2. The facts of birth, and ...

A Pride of Footnotes

Robert M. Adams

17 November 1983
The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. VII: ‘Biographia Literaria’ 
edited by James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate.
Routledge/Princeton, 306 pp., £50, May 1983, 0 691 09874 3
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... the book has long outlived most of the particular issues and controversies with which it engages, to become an active component in much modern critical thinking. From George Saintsbury through I.A.Richards to Kenneth Burke, it has exercised the active stimulus, not of a privileged book, but of one which in each generation earns afresh its own authority. For all its oddities – and certainly it is the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: A journey to citizenship

16 November 2006
... Lawrence. The problem – or the hilarity – begins when one begins to read the code of honour that seems to be inscribed between the plain-speaking lines of the manual. One need hardly be I.A.Richards to spot the workings of this, but it often jars with the guide’s larger message of tolerance and live and let live. At times one could easily imagine the work had been authored by Bertie Wooster ...

Inventor

Richard Luckett

21 December 1989
I.A. RichardsHis Life and Work 
by John Paul Russo.
Routledge, 843 pp., £40, May 1989, 0 415 03134 6
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... Bless you’ was Ivor Richards’s characteristic farewell in his last years, an envoi which never failed to convey the careful omission of ‘God’. Yet it also recalled, because what he said, though not what he wrote, was often ...

Darwin Won’t Help

Terry Eagleton: Evocriticism

24 September 2009
On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition and Fiction 
by Brian Boyd.
Harvard, 540 pp., £25.95, May 2009, 978 0 674 03357 3
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... would construct the New Man demanded by the first workers’ state in history. Science told us what the world was like, while art told us what it felt like. Literary propositions, according to I.A.Richards, were really ‘pseudo-propositions’, which looked like descriptions of the world but were secretly accounts of the way we felt about it. Kant had come up with a similar doctrine a century or so ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves

11 October 2018
Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... slap: it ‘seems to shrink from the responsibility of “bestowing judgment”’. Ezra Pound’s prose is flogged as ‘wilfully loose’ and as a ‘yawp for yawp’s sake’. The critic I.A.Richards is subjected to a sliding studs-up tackle: ‘If I.A.Richards really finds the communication of simple experiences so much more difficult than most people do, this is probably because he avoids ...

A Lot to Be Said

Stefan Collini: Literary Criticism

2 November 2017
Literary Criticism: A Concise Political​ History 
by Joseph North.
Harvard, 272 pp., £31.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 96773 1
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... hinting in the politest possible terms that I may be a touch benighted.)In North’s view, ‘the origins of the discipline’ are to be found in the 1920s: he repeatedly asserts that it was I.A.Richards who ‘founded the discipline’. But Richards, according to North, did not develop practical criticism for the purposes of identifying the aesthetic quality of a work of literature and then ranking ...

Under threat

Frank Kermode

21 June 1984
Tributes: Interpreters of our Cultural Tradition 
by E.H. Gombrich.
Phaidon, 270 pp., £17.50, April 1984, 0 7148 2338 4
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... pieces which again demonstrate Gombrich’s skill in exposition, which somehow never prevents him from voicing his criticisms. There is also a lecture on Freud, and another associated with I.A.Richards, though somewhat loosely tethered to that scholar. All these people, and Lord Leverhulme by courtesy, were ‘humanists’, however various their interests; ‘in what used to be called the Republic ...
19 February 1981
Memories 
by Frances Partridge.
Gollancz, 238 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 575 02912 9
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Notes from Sick Rooms 
by Leslie Stephen.
Puckerbrush, 52 pp., £1.50, March 1981, 0 913006 16 5
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... writing is always at its best. In the first chapter, the flavour of the times does come through: the war, the atmosphere of an Edwardian upbringing. At Cambridge she read English (taught by I.A.Richards) and switched to Moral Sciences for Part Two of the Tripos, and she conveys to the reader a sense of that curious mixture of boarding-school mores and intellectual adventurousness which characterised ...

Having one’s Kant and eating it

Terry Eagleton: Northrop Frye

19 April 2001
Northrop Frye’s Late Notebooks 1982-90: Volume One 
edited by Robert Denham.
Toronto, 418 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 8020 4751 3
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Northrop Frye’s Late Notebooks 1982-90: Volume Two 
edited by Robert Denham.
Toronto, 531 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 8020 4752 1
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... commentators, in a profane equivalent of so-called negative theology, have given this elusive, quicksilver force names like ‘power’, ‘difference’ or ‘desire’. Leavis’s colleague I.A.Richards announced with stunning self-assurance that poetry ‘was perfectly capable of saving us’, while an English lineage from Henry James to Iris Murdoch discovered in the novel the quintessentially ...

I am​ a Cretan

Patrick Parrinder

21 April 1988
On Modern Authority: The Theory and Condition of Writing, 1500 to the Present Day 
by Thomas Docherty.
Harvester, 310 pp., £25, May 1987, 0 7108 1017 2
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The Order of Mimesis: Balzac, Stendhal, Nerval, Flaubert 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Cambridge, 288 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 521 23789 0
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... the young poet and critic was summoned before the senior dons and accused of concealing ‘sexual machinery’ in his luggage. Empson received his marching orders, and the best that his mentor I.A.Richards, also a fellow of Magdalene, could do was to fix him up with a hastily-arranged professorship in Tokyo. The point of this (surely apocryphal?) story is not to present Empson as a worthy forerunner of ...

Diary

Patrick Parrinder: On Raymond Williams

18 February 1988
... English criticism, but there are times, and this February is one, when it all seems to boil down to a couple of brawls and a series of obituary notices. One by one the giants have departed: Leavis, Richards, Empson, and now Raymond Williams. The first three had come through to ripe and embattled old age, but Williams was still in his prime as a writer and critic. When I visited him in Saffron Walden in ...

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