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Charles and Alfred

J.I.M. Stewart, 17 December 1981

Studies in Tennyson 
edited by Hallam Tennyson.
Macmillan, 229 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 27884 4
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... of the most perfect poems in the language. What is puzzling about it is its perfection. As W.W. Robson observed in an essay published 11 years ago, ‘there is a radical discrepancy between the strenuousness aspired to, and the medium in which the aspiration is expressed.’ But precisely in this the magic of the poem inheres. Professor ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... poetry. Chapters on Sidney, Spenser and also Milton are added in 1982, the latter two by W.W. Robson, but the emphases of both of Robson’s contributions illustrate what has always been the matter with the Pelican Guide. These are two grave period pieces, echoing the Thirties rather than the Fifties, and faintly ...

Hail, Muse!

Seamus Perry: Byron v. Shelley, 6 February 2003

The Making of the Poets: Byron and Shelley in Their Time 
by Ian Gilmour.
Chatto, 410 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 7110 3
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Byron and Romanticism 
by Jerome McGann.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £47.50, August 2002, 0 521 80958 4
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... diffidence and his art is buried in a letter of George Santayana’s, quoted in a lecture by W.W. Robson. Santayana admired Byron, but felt that ‘he did not respect himself or his art as much as they deserved.’ Robson agrees that this prevents even the best of the poems from being ‘great art’. Byron would have ...

Mortal Scripts

Christopher Norris, 21 April 1983

Writing and the Body 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Harvester, 142 pp., £15.95, September 1982, 0 7108 0495 4
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The Definition of Literature and Other Essays 
by W.W. Robson.
Cambridge, 267 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 521 24495 1
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... Josipovici reflects, ‘I have to trust you to make up for yourselves what can never be said.’ Robson’s essays belong to a different world. Where Josipovici makes a point of facing up to the deconstructionist challenge, Robson is content with a moderating stance which implicitly trusts that these problems will soon ...

Hamlet in the Prison of Arden

Graham Bradshaw, 2 September 1982

Hamlet 
edited by Harold Jenkins.
Methuen, 592 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 9780416179101
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The Taming of the Shrew 
edited by Brian Morris.
Methuen, 396 pp., £12.50, December 1981, 0 416 47580 9
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Richard III 
edited by Antony Hammond.
Methuen, 396 pp., £12.50, December 1981, 0 416 17970 3
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Much Ado about Nothing 
edited by A.R. Humphreys.
Methuen, 256 pp., £11.50, November 1981, 0 416 17990 8
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... that there is no textual support for the common assumption (made by Bradley, Morris Weitz, W.W. Robson and others) that Claudius plans to have Hamlet killed in England before he has learned of Polonius’s murder. For Jenkins, the controversy on why Claudius fails to react to the dumb-show is as misplaced as Bradley’s question about ...

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