The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition
The Perfect Critic, 1919–1926
Publication Year: 2014
The Perfect Critic, 1919-1926, Volume 2 of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot, documents Eliot's emergence as an authoritative and commanding critical voice in twentieth-century letters. The essays and reviews in this volume, most of which were never republished or collected after their first appearances in periodicals, trace the swift and astonishing arc of his rise to international prominence as an incisive critic of literature and culture, an avant-garde poet, and an editor of a successful and celebrated London journal. These seven years register the seismic shift in modern poetry that comes with the publication of The Waste Land (1922), and they witness the appearance of Eliot's first collected volume of verse, Poems, 1909-1925 (1925).
Eliot composed not less than 130 essays, reviews, and letters during this brief time, publishing in venues as various as The Athenaeum, The Times Literary Supplement, La Nouvelle Revue française, The Dial, and Vanity Fair. Such a period of intense creativity and prolific critical writing is all the more remarkable when considered against the backdrop of the extraordinary upheavals in his personal life: the unexpected deaths of his father and sister, the dismal mental and physical health of his wife Vivienne, and Eliot's own psychological breakdown and treatment. The volume features a thorough historical introduction that describes the dynamic and challenging circumstances, both personal and professional, that faced him as he began to establish his critical reputation in London literary circles and beyond.
The Perfect Critic gathers together an impressive and widely unknown body of work, but it includes also several of Eliot's most influential and enduring essays—“Tradition and the Individual Talent,” “Hamlet,” “The Metaphysical Poets,” and “Ulysses, Order, and Myth”—now edited and annotated by Anthony Cuda and Ronald Schuchard. These magisterial early works furnish us with the signal concepts and phrases that have made Eliot's criticism a permanent feature of monographs, syllabi, and anthologies, including the “extinction of personality,” the “objective correlative,” the “dissociation of sensibility,” and the “mythical method.”
The Perfect Critic includes a previously unpublished essay, “A Neglected Aspect of Chapman,” as well as the contents of two influential prose volumes published during the period, The Sacred Wood (1920) and Homage to John Dryden (1924). It also contains newly edited versions of the eight Clark Lectures that Eliot delivered in 1926 for the prestigious series at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Anthony Cuda, associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, is the author of The Passions of Modernism: Eliot, Yeats, Woolf and Mann (2010). He has published articles on Eliot, Yeats, and Heaney, and his reviews of contemporary poetry have appeared in The Washington Post Book World, The New Criterion, FIELD: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the T. S. Eliot Society and a regular lecturer at the T. S. Eliot International Summer School.
Ronald Schuchard, the Goodrich C. White Professor of English, Emeritus, at Emory University, is the author of award-winning Eliot's Dark Angel (1999) and The Last Minstrels: Yeats and the Revival of the Bardic Arts (2008). The editor of Eliot's Clark and Turnbull lectures, The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry (1993), he is co-editor with John Kelly of The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats, Volume 3 (1994), Volume 4 (2005), winner of the MLA's Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters, and Volume 5 (forthcoming). A former Guggenheim fellow and founder-director of the T. S. Eliot International Summer School (2009-2013), he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press and Faber & Faber Ltd
Title Page, Copyright
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The Perfect Critic, 1919-1926: Introduction
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Volume 1 of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot, Apprentice Years, spans the years 1905 to 1918, beginning with a story composed when Eliot was a teenager at the Smith Academy in St. Louis and ending with a review written when he was thirty years old and the author of Prufrock and Other Observations (1917). Volume 2, The Perfect Critic, covers the period 1919 to...
Editorial Procedures and Principles
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Eliot’s uncollected prose makes up the vast majority of the writings published in his lifetime and spans the period from his stories in the Smith Academy Record in 1905 to his final autobiographical note for the Harvard College Class of 1910: Fifty-fifth Anniversary Report, contributed in late December...
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List of Abbreviations
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List of Illustrations
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This is the man whom Gautier noticed as the discoverer of l’analyse sérieuse de l’amour. Marivaux has been ignored in England, and has hardly received his due at the hands of French critics. His due, and no more, from the critics; it is admitted that he wrote half a dozen of the best comedies, and two...
The New Elizabethans and the Old. A review of The New Elizabethans: A First Selection of the Lives of Young Men Who Have Fallen in the Great War, by E. B. Osborn
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At the beginning of the Theaetetus Plato gives the whole effect, the tone, of youthful promise slain in battle. Theaetetus is brought home from Corinth dying of “the disease prevalent in the army.” One of the friends through whom the event is reported recalls the fact that Socrates, shortly before his...
The Post-Georgians. A review of Wheels: A Third Cycle, ed. Edith Sitwell
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If we are passionately devoted to good literature, we look for individuals; but people who are keen on literature look for groups. They are easier to find, easier to talk about, and their multiplied activity is more inspiriting to watch than the silent struggles of a single man. Within limits, a group...
American Literature. A review of A History of American Literature, vol. II, ed. William P. Trent et al.
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This is Volume II of the American Supplement to the Cambridge History of English Literature. We look forward with gnawing curiosity to Volume III, wondering what it may contain besides the article on Brander Matthews which is apparently promised; for Volume II brings us up through a chapter...
A Romantic Aristocra
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It is impossible to overlook the merits of scholarship and criticism exhibited by George Wyndham’s posthumous book, and it is impossible to deal with the book purely on its merits of scholarship and criticism. To attempt to do so would in the first place be unfair, as the book is a posthumous...
Kipling Redivivus. A review of The Years Between, by Rudyard Kipling
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Mr. Kipling is a laureate without laurels. He is a neglected celebrity. The arrival of a new book of his verse is not likely to stir the slightest ripple on the surface of our conversational intelligentsia. He has not been crowned by the elder generation; malevolent fate has not even allowed him to be...
Kipling Redivivus. To the Editor of The Athenaeum
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Sir, – Mr. Lytton Strachey informs me that in my review of Kipling’s verse last week I referred to the “Authorized Version” as the “Revised Version.” I meant the Bible published by direction of King James I, and still in use in my childhood. Mr. Strachey says that there is a modern edition called the...
A Sceptical Patrician. A review of The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography
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Colonel Smith was a person of consideration in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; somewhat against his wishes, his daughter married John Adams, said to be descended from a bricklayer. John Adams, the second President of the United States, had, by his wife Abigail, John Quincy Adams, the...
Beyle and Balzac. A review of A History of the French Novel, to the Close of the Nineteenth Century, vol. II, by George Saintsbury
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Turning over the pages of the Preface to this Volume II, we respire an elegiac note. For Professor Saintsbury apparently says that he is not going to write any more Histories. Who will write them? for they will be written, and they will not be so readable as Mr. Saintsbury’s. They will be written by...
Criticism in England. A review of Old and New Masters, by Robert Lynd
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We generally agree in conversation that the amount of good literary criticism in English is negligible. Mr. Arnold Bennett comprehended the usual case adequately in his Books and Persons: putting the case from the point of view of the two or three hundred persons who perceive the defect. He...
The Education of Taste. A review of English Literature during the Last Half-Century, by J. W. Cunliffe
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America outstrips the world in the development of the text-book; America has carried the text-book into conquests elsewhere unaspired to by that humble vehicle of instruction; in America every serious work threatens eventually to conform to the text-book decorum, and to wear the textbook...
Reflections on Contemporary Poetry [IV]. A review of Naked Warriors, by Herbert Read; The Charnel Rose, Senlin: A Biography, and Other Poems, by Conrad Aiken; and vingt-cinq poèmes, by Tristan Tzara
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It is not true that the development of a writer is a function of his development as a man, but it is possible to say that there is a close analogy between the sort of experience which develops a man and the sort of experience which develops a writer. Experience in living may leave the literary embryo...
A Foreign Mind. A review of The Cutting of an Agate, by W. B. Yeats
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This book of collected essays and prefaces might be used as the text for an historical summary of the Irish Movement, or of the Abbey Theatre, or as the text for a disquisition upon the art of drama, or for a number of other inquiries with which we are already familiar. But the focus of all these topics...
The Romantic Generation, If It Existed. A review of Currents and Eddies in the English Romantic Generation, by Frederick E. Pierce
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To anyone who is interested to know what a past generation liked, and why they liked it, a book of careful and intelligent scholarship such as Mr. Pierce’s is instructive. It is illuminating to learn that the Great Foreign Dramatist of 1800 was – Kotzebue; that the Epics of Southey were confidently...
“Rhetoric” and Poetic Drama
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The death of Rostand was the disappearance of the poet whom, more than any other in France, we treated as the exponent of “rhetoric,” thinking of rhetoric as something recently out of fashion. And as we find ourselves looking back rather tenderly upon the author of Cyrano we wonder what...
Was There a Scottish Literature? A review of Scottish Literature: Character and Influence, by G. Gregory Smith
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We suppose that there is an English literature, and Professor Gregory Smith supposes that there is a Scotch literature. When we assume that a literature exists we assume a great deal: we suppose that there is one of the five or six (at most) great organic formations of history. We do not suppose...
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Swinburne observes of Marlowe that “the father of English tragedy and the creator of English blank verse was therefore also the teacher and the guide of Shakespeare.” In this sentence there are two misleading assumptions and two misleading conclusions. Kyd has as good a title to the first...
Tradition and the Individual Talent
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In English writing we seldom speak of tradition, though we occasionally apply its name in deploring its absence. We cannot refer to “the tradition” or to “a tradition”; at most, we employ the adjective in saying that the poetry of So-and-so is “traditional” or even “too traditional.” Seldom, perhaps...
Swinburne as Critic
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Three conclusions at least issue from the perusal of Swinburne’s critical essays: Swinburne had mastered his material, was more inward with the Tudor-Stuart dramatists than any man of pure letters before or since; he is a more reliable guide to them than Hazlitt, Coleridge, or Lamb; and his...
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Few critics have ever admitted that Hamlet the play is the primary problem, and Hamlet the character only secondary. And Hamlet the character has had an especial temptation for that most dangerous type of critic: the critic with a mind which is naturally of the creative order, but which...
Murmuring of Innumerable Bees. An unsigned review of Coterie: An Illustrated Quarterly, 2 (Sept 1919). Pp. 64.
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It is impossible to criticize in detail the assembled work of sixteen poets in a quarterly; especially in a quarterly so little tendencieux as Coterie – in spite of its alarming name. The intention of the editors appears to have been merely to collect the best poems which the best poets of a certain...
Humanist, Artist, and Scientist. A review of La Pensée italienne au XVIe siècle et le courant libertin and L’Éthique de Giordano Bruno et le deuxième dialogue du Spaccio, by J.-Roger Charbonnel
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M. Charbonnel’s two volumes on the sixteenth century comprehend some 1,100 pages of large and small type; the learning, the apparent, the probable and the possible reading involved is overwhelming; and it cannot be supposed that the author has left much unsearched or unsaid in his subject of...
War-paint and Feathers. A review of The Path on the Rainbow: An Anthology of Songs and Chants from the Indians of North America, ed. George W. Cronyn
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The Ustumsjiji are a vanishing race. The last repositories of the Monophysite heresy, persecuted and massacred for centuries (on religious grounds) by the Armenians, the remnants of a unique civilization have taken refuge in the remote gorges of the Akim-Baba Range. Here the explorer discovered them...
The Method of Mr. Pound. A review of Quia Pauper Amavi, by Ezra Pound
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The present volume of poems by Mr. Pound is probably the most significant book that he has published. It is, at all events, the most coherent extended work since Personae and Exultations; and it makes easier the adoption of a view of his poetry which many readers have consistently...
Our Inaccessible Heritage. To the Editor of The Athenaeum
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Sir, – Your correspondents appear to have exhausted their commentary upon the “Inaccessible Heritage." There is, however, one important branch of the subject which has not, so far as I know, been explored. The heritage does not include only the books we wish to buy and cannot procure; it...
Mr. Pound and His Poetry. To the Editor of The Athenaeum
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Sir, – Mr. Pound’s letter of last week appears to me quite superfluous. It is perfectly obvious that he must have been indebted to someone, unless he is a Chinese scholar, which nobody supposes; I am perfectly willing to believe that his creditor is the late Mr. Fenollosa; but the gist of my criticism is that...
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The reputation of Jonson has been of the most deadly kind that can be compelled upon the memory of a great poet. To be universally accepted; to be damned by the praise that quenches all desire to read the book; to be afflicted by the imputation of the virtues which excite the least pleasure; ...
The Preacher as Artist. A review of Donne’s Sermons: Selected Passages, ed. Logan Pearsall Smith
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The selection is well made, and should also convince the reader that it was
worth making. To what Mr. Pearsall Smith has said there are no objections
to be raised; there are only one or two critical codicils to be added.
Donne’s prose is worth reading both because it is a significant moment in the history of English prose, and because it has at its best uncommon...
The Duchess of Malfi at the Lyric: and Poetic Drama
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It was a triumph, several weeks ago, for Mr. William Archer, Sir Leo Chiozza Money, and that majority of the British public which sincerely hates the whole of the English literature antecedent to Cowper’s Task. It was a triumph of considerable magnitude. Years of patient labour have so...
The Local Flavour
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In a world which is chiefly occupied with the task of keeping up to date with itself, it is a satisfaction to know that there is at least one man who has not only read but enjoyed, and not only enjoyed but read, such authors as Petronius and Herondas. That is Mr. Charles Whibley, and there are two...
Swinburne as Poet
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It is a question of some nicety to decide how much must be read of any particular poet. And it is not a question merely of the size of the poet. There are some poets whose every line has unique value. There are others who can be taken by a few poems universally agreed upon. There are others...
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If one follows Blake’s mind through the several stages of his poetic development it is impossible to regard him as a naïf, a wild man, a wild pet for the supercultivated. The strangeness is evaporated, the peculiarity is seen to be the peculiarity of all great poetry: something which is found (not...
The Phoenix Society. To the Editor of The Athenaeum
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Sir, – The Phoenix Society, which has recently produced a play of Webster and a play of Dryden, is appealing to its subscribers, of whom I am one, to endeavour to secure more subscribers at reduced rates for the remaining three performances of the season.1 It appears that the receipts from subscriptions...
Euripides and Professor Murray
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The appearance of Miss Sybil Thorndike some years ago as Medea at the Holborn Empire was an event which has a bearing upon three subjects of considerable interest: the drama, the present standing of Greek literature, and the importance of good contemporary translation. On the occasion...
A Brief Treatise on the Criticism of Poetry
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Anatole France, a man whose intelligence must be treated with respect, remarks somewhere that “Criticism is the last of all literary forms; it will perhaps end by absorbing them all. It is admirably adapted to a very civilised society whose memories are rich and whose traditions are already age-old...
Modern Tendencies in Poetry
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A popular theme of Extension lecturers and the like is the Relation of Poetry to Life. Poetry has been interrogated a good many times by these conscientious educators, who have exerted considerable ventriloqual ingenuity in the replies they have pretended to extract from it. But if Life, in the...
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M. Paul Valéry, a writer for whom I have considerable respect, has placed in his most recent statement upon poetry a paragraph which seems to me of very doubtful validity. I have not seen the complete essay, and know the quotation only as it appears in a critical notice in the Athenaeum, July 23, 1920: ...
The Criticism of Poetry. To the Editor of the TLS
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Sir, – Your reviewer of last week handled my Essay on the Criticism of Poetry with more courteous clemency than this defective composition deserved. My essay contains much matter that should be erased and much that should be reformed; it is incoherent and inexact. I should therefore...
The Poetic Drama. A review of Cinnamon and Angelica: A Play, by John Middleton Murry
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The impotence of contemporary drama is a commonplace riddle of cultured pessimism. A convocation of dramatic enthusiasts recently revealed, that on the one hand there are plenty of writers who could compose good plays if anyone would stage them, and that on the other hand there are a...
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Massinger has been more fortunately and more fairly judged than several of his greater contemporaries. Three critics have done their best by him: the notes of Coleridge exemplify Coleridge’s fine and fragmentary perceptions; the essay of Leslie Stephen is a piece of formidable destructive...
Artists and Men of Genius. To the Editor of The Athenaeum
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Sir, – Mr. William H. Polack’s perplexity (Athenaeum, June 18, p. 810) is a spectacle before which it is impossible for me to remain passive. He encourages me by saying that he is anxious to learn; and if the knowledge of what I do not believe is a possession which he would dignify with the name of learning, he is welcome to it...
The Perfect Critic
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Coleridge was perhaps the greatest of English critics, and in a sense the last. After Coleridge we have Matthew Arnold; but Arnold – I think it will be conceded – was rather a propagandist for criticism than a critic, a popularizer rather than a creator of ideas. So long as this island remains an island...
The Perfect Critic. To the Editor of The Athenaeum
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Sir, – Mr. Hannay doubts whether I have justified my distinction between the critic and the philosopher, and suspects that I am making a distinction between a kind of philosophical criticism of which I approve and another kind of which I disapprove. If I have made this distinction between kinds...
A French Romantic. To the Editor of the TLS
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Sir, – I hope that I am not too late in raising one or two questions suggested by the important article in your issue of September 30 entitled “A French Romantic.” I have been delayed by personal preoccupations; I am excused for writing now, if I am excused at all, by the importance of the subject, the...
The Possibility of a Poetic Drama
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The questions – why there is no poetic drama to-day, how the stage has lost all hold on literary art, why so many poetic plays are written which can only be read, and read, if at all, without pleasure – have become insipid, almost academic. The usual conclusion is either that “conditions” are too...
A Note on the American Critic
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This gallery of critics is not intended to be in any sense complete. But having dealt with three English writers of what may be called critical prose, one’s mind becomes conscious of the fact that they have something in common, and, trying to perceive more clearly what this community is, and suspecting...
The French Intelligence
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As the inspection of types of English irresistibly provoked a glance at two American critics, so the inspection of the latter leads our attention to the French. M. Julien Benda has the formal beauty which the American critics lack, and a close affinity to them in point of view. He restricts himself...
Introduction. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism
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To anyone who is at all capable of experiencing the pleasures of justice, it is gratifying to be able to make amends to a writer whom one has vaguely depreciated for some years. The faults and foibles of Matthew Arnold are no less evident to me now than twelve years ago, after my first admiration for him; ...
Autobiographical Note. Harvard College Class of 1910, Secretary’s Fourth Report
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1910-1911: Sorbonne, Paris, studying French language, literature and philosophy. 1911-1914: Harvard University Graduate School: metaphysics, logic, psychology, and Indic philology, Sanskrit and Pali. 1914-1915: Merton College, Oxford: Greek philosophy. 1915-1916: Assistant master, Highgate...
The Romantic Englishman, the Comic Spirit, and the Function of Criticism
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Sir Tunbelly Clumsy, Sir Giles Overreach, Squire Western, and Sir Sampson Legend, who was lately so competently revived by Mr. Byford at the Phoenix, are different contributions by distinguished mythmakers to the chief myth which the Englishman has built about himself. The myth that...
The Lesson of Baudelaire
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With regard to certain intellectual activities across the Channel, which at the moment appear to take the place of poetry in the life of Paris, some effort ought to be made to arrive at an intelligent point of view on this side. It is probable that this French performance is of value almost exclusively for...
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The tercentenary of the former member for Hull deserves not only the celebration proposed by that favoured borough but a little serious reflection upon his writing. That is an act of piety, which is very different from the resurrection of a deceased reputation. Marvell has stood high for some...
Prose and Verse
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On the subject of prose-poetry I have no theory to expound; but as I find I cannot state my position merely by denying the existence of the subjectmatter, I may be excused for explaining it at greater length than a simple denial requires. I have found it convenient to put my remarks in the form...
London Letter: March, 1921
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I take up this task of writing a London letter with an overwhelming sense of difficulty. As I first proposed it to myself, there was no difficulty at all: it was to mention any work, or any momentary appearance of intellect or feeling, which seemed to deserve mention, to use any opportunity to consider...
London Letter: May, 1921
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In my last letter I mentioned an approaching performance by the Phoenix Society of Ben Jonson’s Volpone; the performance proved to be the most important theatrical event of the year in London. The play was superbly carried out; the performance gave evidence of Jonson’s consummate...
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If the prospect of delight be wanting (which alone justifies the perusal of poetry) we may let the reputation of Dryden sleep in the manuals of literature. To those who are genuinely insensible of his genius (and these are probably the majority of living readers of poetry) we can only oppose illustrations...
London Letter: July, 1921
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The vacant term of wit set in early this year with a fine hot rainless spring; the crop of murders and divorces has been poor compared with that of last autumn; Justice Darling (comic magistrate) has been silent, and has only raised his voice to declare that he does not know the difference between...
London Letter: September, 1921
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Looking back upon the past season in London – for no new season has yet begun – it remains certain that Strawinsky was our two months’ lion. He has been the greatest success since Picasso. In London all the stars obey their seasons, though these seasons no more conform to the almanac than...
The Metaphysical Poets
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By collecting these poems from the work of a generation more often named than read, and more often read than profitably studied, Professor Grierson has rendered a service of some importance. Certainly the reader will meet with many poems already preserved in other anthologies, at the same time...
The Metaphysical Poets. To the Editor of the TLS
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Sir, – I am obliged to Professor Saintsbury for his suggestions, of which I shall make use, if he will permit me, on some later occasion. As I greatly respect Mr. Saintsbury, so I would not be behind him in my testimony of that great neglected poet, great neglected dramatist, and great neglected critic, John Dryden...
Poets and Anthologies. To the Editor of the TLS
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Sir, – In your last issue I have read a review of an anthology of Modern American Poetry; from this review I gather that certain of my verses appear therein I should be grateful to you if you would make public the fact that I had no knowledge that any of my verse was to be used in this way; that...
The Three Provincialities
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It has been perceptible for several years that not one but three English literatures exist: that written by Irishmen, that written by Americans and that composed by the English themselves. Thirty years ago Irish and English literature were in a state of partial amalgamation. That is to say, the literary...
London Letter: April, 1922
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London, after three months, appeared to me quite unchanged: the same things one liked, the same things one detested, and the same things to which one was indifferent. I set about to hear any important news, of books, of people, of productions or events, and found nothing worthy of mention...
Lettre d’Angleterre (May 1922)
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Comme préambule à un examen de l’état de la littérature anglaise à l’heure présente, il est nécessaire de hasarder quelques généralisations, – d’exposer avec franchise un point de vue – inévitablement contestable en soi – afin que le lecteur puisse se rendre compte du degré de confiance qu’il convient...
London Letter: June, 1922
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The death of Sir Walter Raleigh removes a figure of some dignity from a post of some importance. I use both phrases with responsibility. I have never seen and heard the late Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and have never read a line of his writings.2 But he occupied the post of some importance...
London Letter: August, 1922
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It is sometimes supposed, when any new and excellent work of art appears, that a new era of creative work will be directly propagated. Certainly, great works of art do in some way mark or modify an epoch, but less often by the new things which they make possible, than by the old things to which they...
To the Editor of The Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury
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Sir, – My attention has been called to two paragraphs about myself in the
issue of the Liverpool Post of the 16th of this month. The two paragraphs
contain a number of statements which are quite untrue.
No such collection or presentation as that mentioned ever took place, and I never made the statement attributed to me. I have not received £800...
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It requires some effort to understand why one person, among many who do a thing with accomplished skill, should be greater than the others; and it is not always easy to distinguish superiority from great popularity, when the two go together. Although I have always admired the genius of Marie...
Lettre d’Angleterre: Le style dans la prose anglaise contemporaine (Dec 1922)
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On dit souvent qu’il n’existe pas en anglais une prose étalon. À l’analyse on découvre que cette critique pourrait se formuler plus exactement ainsi : la prose anglaise, si on la compare à la française, à l’italienne et à l’espagnole, s’est développée tard. Les formes premières qu’elle assuma visaient des...
To the Editor of The Daily Mail
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Sir – It is so remarkable to find oneself in agreement with the policy of any newspaper on more than one point that I am writing to express my cordial approval of your attitude on nearly every public question of present importance...
To the Literary Editor of The Chicago Daily News
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According to your issue of the 21st of February, Mr. Ben Hecht has stated that he met me in London, and added that he knows that I thoroughly hate Americans and everything they write and read. Mr. Ben Hecht has never met me in London or anywhere else, and I hope that you will...
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The death and the funeral of Sarah Bernhardt are events important not so much because of the loss of a great actress as because they mark the termination of an epoch. The epoch was already over, but Bernhardt’s death gave, as we had known for years that it would give, the official date for the...
To the Literary Editor of The Globe and Commercial Advertiser
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Sir: I have received a cutting from your issue of March 6 in which you quote from the Chicago News some statements about myself which are asserted to have been made by Mr. Ben Hecht. According to this cutting Mr. Hecht says that he met me in London, and knows that I thoroughly...
John Donne. A review of Love Poems of John Donne
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The appearance of a very fine edition of Donne’s love poems provokes an inquiry into the reasons for Donne’s present popularity; for it is such an edition as only a poet highly esteemed by a prosperous public could receive. For the production, the Nonesuch Press deserves every compliment...
Ben Jonson. To the Editor of The Nation and the Athenaeum
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Sir – In some interesting remarks on Ben Jonson in The Nation and Athenaeum of June 23rd – with which I am otherwise in accord – I observe that you refer to me as seeming to have praised Jonson “apologetically.” My article was intended as a “defence” only in so far as I believed Jonson’s...
The Function of a Literary Review
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On the completion of the first volume of the Criterion, it is pertinent to define, and perhaps to defend, the purpose of a literary review. For in our time the pursuit of literary perfection, and the preoccupation with literature and art for their own sake, are objects of attack, no longer in...
Contemporary English Prose. A Discussion of the Development of English Prose from Hobbes and Sir Thomas Browne to Joyce and D. H. Lawrence
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It is often said that there is in English no standard prose style. A more analytic statement of this criticism might be as follows: English prose, in comparison with that of the French, Italian and Spanish languages, developed late. Its early forms were constructed for special and limited uses; and...
Andrew Marvell. A review of Miscellaneous Poems, by Andrew Marvell
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The Nonesuch Press, having produced an admirable edition of poems by John Donne, has now brought out a still more beautiful and wholly satisfactory edition of Marvell. It is to be hoped that these will be followed by similar editions of other poets of the same epoch; for if seventeenth-century...
The Function of Criticism
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Writing several years ago on the subject of the relation of the new to the old in art, I formulated a view to which I still adhere, in sentences which I take the liberty of quoting, because the present paper is an application of the principle they express: ...
The Classics in France – and in England
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Latin and Greek are to be reinstated in public instruction in France; and already there are not wanting interpreters to tell us that this is no doubt excellent for the French. But in England, we are told and shall be told, such a step would be a step backward, an artificial restriction and a barrier...
The Beating of a Drum. A review of Studies in the Development of the Fool in the Elizabethan Drama, by Olive Mary Busby; and The Sacred Dance: A Study in Comparative Folklore, by W. O. E. Oesterley
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The inquiries of Darwin appear to have made no more impression on literary criticism than that recorded by the misleading title of Ferdinand Brunetière, L’évolution des genres. If literary critics, instead of perpetually perusing the writings of other critics, would study the content and criticize...
Ulysses, Order, and Myth. A review of Ulysses, by James Joyce
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Mr. Joyce’s book has been out long enough for no more general expression of praise, or expostulation with its detractors, to be necessary; and it has not been out long enough for any attempt at a complete measurement of its place and significance to be possible. All that one can usefully do at this...
A Preface to Modern Literature: Being a Conspectus, Chiefly of English Poetry, Addressed to an Intelligent and Inquiring Foreigner
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As a preamble to the examination of English literature at the present time it is necessary, for the sake of the reader, to risk some generalizations; to expose frankly a point of view – inevitably contestable – so that the reader may judge for himself of the reliability of the chronicler, and of his peculiar limitations and prejudices...
Lettre d’Angleterre (Nov 1923)
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Je viens de lire avec grand intérêt dans le numéro de septembre de la Nouvelle Revue Française, les observations de M. Crémieux au sujet d’une Enquête (que je n’ai pas encore lue) sur les maîtres de la jeune littérature. Et je me suis souvenu de spéculations semblables (à cela près que les opinions...
Marianne Moore. A review of Poems and Marriage, by Marianne Moore
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Two years ago Miss Moore’s book of Poems – so far as I know her only book – was published in London by The Egoist Press; and I then undertook to review it for The Dial. This promise, for one reason after another, I never fulfilled. Now another poem has appeared, Marriage, published by Manikin, ...
To the Editor of The Transatlantic Review
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I welcome with extreme curiosity the appearance of the Transatlantic Review. If it is similar to the Criterion I shall take it as the best possible testimony of the blessings of the gods on our enterprises: in so far as it be different I hope that the differences will be complementary or at least antagonistic...
Four Elizabethan Dramatists: A Preface to an Unwritten Book
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To attempt to supplement the criticism of Lamb, Coleridge, and Swinburne on these four Elizabethan dramatists – Webster, Tourneur, Middleton, and Chapman – is a task for which I now believe the time has gone by. What I wish to do is to define and illustrate a point of view toward the Elizabethan...
A Prediction in Regard to Three English Authors: Writers Who, Though Masters of Thought, are Likewise Masters of Art
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There are three English writers of whom I wish briefly to speak. Two of them – Henry James and Sir James Frazer – are known in America and are beginning to be known in Europe, in translations; the third, Francis Herbert Bradley, is hardly likely to be known outside of England at all.
A Commentary (Apr 1924)
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The posthumous volume of Speculations of T. E. Hulme (Kegan Paul) appears to have fallen like a stone to the bottom of the sea of print. With its peculiar merits, this book is most unlikely to meet with the slightest comprehension from the usual reviewer: with all its defects – it is an outline...
A Commentary (July 1924)
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It is somewhat late in the day to comment upon the inaugural lecture delivered by Professor Garrod on February 13, but the occasion is one which justifies retrospective comment. Mr. Garrod chose a difficult subject for himself: he chose to deal with the characteristics of contemporary poetry...
An untitled review of The Growth of Civilization and The Origin of Magic and Religion, by W. J. Perry
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The recent theories of Professor Elliot Smith and his disciple, Mr. W. J. Perry, are of interest and importance to every student or practitioner of the arts, as indeed they should be to everyone who would pay any attention to the history and the future of the human race. In these two volumes Mr...
A Commentary (Oct 1924)
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No periodical which professes a devotion to literature could neglect to associate itself with the general regret at the death of a writer who was beyond question a great novelist, and who possessed the modesty and the conviction which a great writer should have. Conrad’s reputation is as...
Preface to Homage to John Dryden: Three Essays on Poetry of the Seventeenth Century
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The three essays composing this small book were written several years ago for publication in the Times Literary Supplement, to the editor of which I owe the encouragement to write them, and now the permission to reprint them. Inadequate as periodical criticism, they need still more justification...
A Neglected Aspect of Chapman
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There is a first part to this paper which is still unwritten. This is one chapter in a whole book of Prolegomena to Elizabethan Literature which is still unwritten. My excuse for not having written the book is that there have been a great many other people, better equipped in many ways than I, who...
A Brief Introduction to the Method of Paul Valéry. Le Serpent, par Paul Valéry. With a Translation into English by Mark Wardle and an Introduction by T. S. Eliot
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We are so accustomed, in considering contemporary English poetry, to identify tradition with lack of invention, and on the other hand originality with oddity; our poetry is of such various and incompatible inheritances – English, Irish, and American – that it is impossible for us to point to the...
A Commentary (Jan 1925)
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The ballet is a form of art which has a tradition three hundred years old. That tradition was kept alive and developed by the great schools of training in Italy and later in Russia. Of the great masters of dancing in these three centuries the only name known to the public of to-day – even to a...
On the Eve: A Dialogue [with Vivien Eliot]
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“PANCAKES!” exclaimed Horace as Rose handed him the dish.
“Ah, pancakes,” murmured Alexander.
“I must have one, I don’t care what happens,” said Agatha recklessly.
They squeezed lemon-juice on their pancakes and covered them with sugar. Horace rolled his up in a neat roll, and began to eat it with gusto...
A Commentary (Apr 1925)
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It is regretted that, owing to severe illness, Mr. T. S. Eliot has been unable to prepare his essay on “A Neglected Aspect of George Chapman” for this number; also a review of The Sanskrit Theatre, by Professor A. B. Keith, and a review of Restoration Comedy, by Bonamy Dobree.
The Ballet. A review of The Dance: An Historical Survey of Dancing in Europe, by Cecil J. Sharp and A. P. Oppé; and Mudrās: The Ritual Hand-Poses of the Buddha Priests and Shiva Priests, by Tyra De Kleen
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The late Cecil Sharp was a scholar of many services to the study of English ballads, English dance, and English music, and it is a pleasure to observe that this book, which is in a sense a memorial to him, has been produced as such a book ought to be. Mr. Oppé has performed his work well, and...
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C’est en 1911 que je rencontrai Jacques Rivière, pour la première fois. Son beau-frère, le regretté Alain-Fournier, m’avait conduit chez lui afin de lui demander conseil au sujet d’un travail de quelque envergure que je désirais présenter à l’Université. Étudiant, très jeune et gauche, je n’étais pas sans...
Why Rural Verse. A review of Spring Thunder and Other Poems, by Mark Van Doren
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Racial migrations and the economic conditions of modern life have had one consequence which, among so many others, has been neglected. The universal and rapid growth of the reading public has produced a variety of cultures existing side by side in the same village, in the same street, exhibiting...
Autobiographical Note. Harvard College Class of 1910, Quindecennial Report
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Records of the Class
THOMAS STEARNS ELIOT: banker; married Vivien Haigh Haigh- Wood, London, 1915; publications: Prufrock, 1917; The Sacred Wood, 1920; Ara Vos Prec, 1920; The Waste Land, 1922; John Dryden, 1925; ...
English Satire. An unsigned review of English Satire and Satirists, by Hugh Walker
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This book is the most recent addition to a series entitled “Channels of English Literature,” each volume of which undertakes the history of a genre in English literature from earliest times to the present Literary history of this type has peculiar limitations. The history of any genre within the limits...
An Italian Critic on Donne and Crashaw. An unsigned review of Secentismo e marinismo in Inghilterra: John Donne – Richard Crashaw, by Mario Praz
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If there be any fault to find with this book, it is with the title. Signor Praz’s work is neither a general study of the poetry of the seventeenth century in England, nor is it by any means limited to the influence of Marino. It is two books, independent but closely related; a study of the life and works of...
Shakespeare and Montaigne. An unsigned review of Shakspeare’s Debt to Montaigne, by George Coffin Taylor
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Professor Taylor has written a useful book. He has shown wisdom in presenting his conclusions in the briefest and most compact form – the whole treatise, including appendices, runs only to sixty-six pages – and his appendices exhibit his evidence in a manner most convenient for the reader...
Wanley and Chapman. An unsigned review of Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association, vol. XI, collected by Oliver Elton
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If one misses the names of the greater humanists who have given special distinction to the earlier volumes of this series – Mr. Saintsbury, for instance, is absent, and W. P. Ker and Henry Bradley will be here no more – yet there is none of these six essays which was not worth the collecting...
The Clark Lectures: Lectures on the Metaphysical Poetry of the Seventeenth Century with Special Reference to Donne, Crashaw and Cowley
[Author's Preface] / Lecture I: Introduction: On the Definition of Metaphysical Poetry
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It is the intention of the author to rewrite these lectures as a book. Beyond the obvious alterations – the conversational style and the constant repetitions to be removed – the whole argument is to be reformed; assertions must be proved; much detail of fact and authority must be added. The...
Lecture II: Donne and the Middle Ages
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I propose in this lecture to discuss the studies of Donne and their influence upon his mind and his poetry. For this purpose I shall employ chiefly the work of Miss Mary Ramsay before mentioned. Miss Ramsay conducted her investigation into Donne’s reading with the thoroughness only possible...
Lecture III: Donne and the Trecento
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The channels through which the Italian poetry of the trecento derives from the Provençal is too well known for me to have any need to review it. I am no Provençal scholar, and anything that I could say would be obtained from translations or from credible authorities. The only point of which I...
Lecture IV: The Conceit in Donne
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In the preceding lecture I endeavoured to persuade you that the systematic Latin philosophy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, combining with the Provençal influence, produced in the trecento that conception of love which is expressed in the Vita Nuova. And I tried to present the...
Lecture V: Donne’s Longer Poems
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It has seemed to me desirable that in this lecture, before passing on to Crashaw and Cowley, I should consider the longer poems of Donne in their main groups: the Satires, the Epistles, the Voyage, the “Anatomy of the World,” and the “Progress of the Soul.” The longer poems, and especially...
Lecture VI: Crashaw
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I feel some sense of shame at having arranged matters so that, after devoting four lectures solely to Donne, I must condense what I have to say about Crashaw into one. But I would remind you, in extenuation, that what I have undertaken is not a series of lectures on metaphysical poets, but an...
Lecture VII: Cowley and the Transition
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Donne was born in 1573; Crashaw in 1612; Cowley in 1618. The difference of a literary generation between Donne and Crashaw is indicated by the years; but the years do not indicate the difference that there is between Crashaw and Cowley. Crashaw is Caroline of the first Charles; Cowley is...
Lecture VIII: The Nineteenth Century
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For several generations, we have been told by philosophers and half-philosophers, that if you cease to believe in Good and Evil, they do not exist. Good and Evil are concepts which have had their birth and their development, according to Westermarck and others – remember that Westermarck...
The Idea of a Literary Review
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The existence of a literary review requires more than a word of justification. It is not enough to present a list of distinguished contributors; it is not enough to express a cordial zeal for the diffusion of good literature; it is not enough to define a “policy.” The essential preliminary is to define the...
A Popular Shakespeare. An unsigned review of The Works of Shakespeare, vols. I-III. Introductions by Charles Whibley
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Of this popular edition of Shakespeare the text is that of the Globe Shakespeare of Clark and Wright; there is no commentary or gloss; but a glossary. Comment, therefore, is restricted to the production of the book by Messrs. Macmillan and to the three introductions by Mr. Whibley....
Introduction to Savonarola: A Dramatic Poem, by Charlotte Eliot
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Accuracy is no justification of a work of historical fiction, though the lack of accuracy is a serious blemish. Such fiction, whether in prose or verse, must find its excuse in the same qualities as any other work of fiction, in vitality, order and grace. But historical fiction, to the degree to which it possesses...
A Commentary (Apr 1926)
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An overworked and harried prime minister, addressing a non-political body on a non-political subject, is in a peculiarly difficult position. No recent tenant of that place, except perhaps the Earl of Oxford, could have composed a more admirable specimen of such oratory than Mr. Baldwin’s...
Mr. Robertson and Mr. Shaw. A review of Mr. Shaw and “The Maid,” by J. M. Robertson
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It is itself a worn-out proverb, that no philosophy is ever refuted, but every philosophy becomes outworn. The fact that Mr. Bernard Shaw’s currency is steadily declining in value, as more and more of it appears in circulation, and the probability that in ten or fifteen years it will no longer be accepted...
An untitled review of All God’s Chillun Got Wings (with Desire under the Elms and Welded), by Eugene O’Neill
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One is diffident of passing judgment upon a play which one has not seen upon the stage, but Mr. O’Neill’s plays – especially the first of these three – are so readable, and so impressive when read, that their publication in a book must be noticed. I believe that in America, where Mr. O’Neill’s plays...
A Commentary (June 1926)
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During the last year or two the number of societies for subscription performances has increased amazingly. Besides the Stage Society, and its offshoots, the Phoenix and the Greek Play Society, there exist the Renaissance Theatre, the Film Society, and several societies for the production of the...
English Verse Satire. An unsigned review of A Book of English Verse Satire, ed. A. G. Barnes
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To make a good anthology it is not enough to select good poems. It is necessary to have a plan, and a plan justified of literary criticism; and it is necessary to have a sense of proportion and order beyond one’s personal enthusiasms. A good anthology, of the special type, is proved by three...
The Influence of Ovid. An unsigned review of Ovid and his Influence, by Edward Kennard Rand
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Professor Rand, who is an authority on Boethius and on early medieval Latin, is well qualified both by scholarship and by urbanity of mind for writing a popular introduction to Ovid’s poetry. This volume is one of a series (“Our Debt to Greece and Rome”) which appears to be of...
The Author of “The Burning Babe.” An unsigned review of The Book of Robert Southwell, by Christobel M. Hood
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Robert Southwell was the third son of a gentleman of good family in Norfolk; through his mother’s family he was related to the Shelleys; and he was born in or about the year 1562. The family had arrived at considerable prosperity by the benevolence of Henry VIII and the spoliation of the...
Plague Pamphlets. An unsigned review of The Plague Pamphlets of Thomas Dekker, ed. F. P. Wilson
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The literature of Plague is not a large one – for the English reader there hardly exist more than Defoe’s Journal and Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” – and we may be grateful to Mr. Wilson for reprinting these pieces of prose and verse. They will not, for the most part, add much to Dekker’s...
Creative Criticism. An unsigned review of Creative Criticism: Essays on the Unity of Genius and Taste, by J. E. Spingarn
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Mr. J. E. Spingarn is the author of an excellent informative book on the literary criticism of the Italian Renaissance; he is a scholarly critic who is entitled to be listened to with respect. In this book, however, it would seem that Mr. Spingarn, who at one time was professor of literature in an American...
Chaucer’s “Troilus.” An unsigned review of The Book of Troilus and Criseyde, by Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Robert Kilburn Root
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There would be every reason for welcoming a new edition of Chaucer’s Troilus even were it far less scholarly and critical than Dr. Root’s. Within the last ten or fifteen years our attitude towards Chaucer has changed; it is one of those inconspicuous but important changes which are not immediately...
American Prose. An unsigned review of The Outlook for American Prose, by Joseph Warren Beach; and S. P. E. Tract No. XXIV, which includes Notes on Relative Clauses, by Otto Jespersen, and American Slang, by Fred Newton Scott
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The title of Mr. Beach’s book is, we imagine, one which should encourage the sale of the book in America. It reflects faithfully the attitude of a large part of the literary public in America – an attitude of determination and confidence in the future, with an acute consciousness of the shortcomings...
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The Right Reverend Father in God, Lancelot Bishop of Winchester, died on September 25, 1626. During his lifetime he enjoyed a distinguished reputation for the excellence of his sermons, for the conduct of his diocese, for his ability in controversy displayed against Cardinal Bellarmine, and for...
A Commentary (Oct 1926)
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On the seventh of July Mr. Rudyard Kipling (see the Morning Post of July 8th) “received at the hands of the Earl of Balfour the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature. The occasion was the Centenary Banquet of the Society, held at the New Princes’ Restaurant, Piccadilly. Lord Balfour...
Mr. Read and M. Fernandez. A review of Reason and Romanticism: Essays in Literary Criticism, by Herbert Read; and Messages, by Ramon Fernandez
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The intelligent and sensitive critic who discussed Mr. Read’s book in the Times Literary Supplement (leading article, July 8th, 1926), begins his article by remarking that “The comparative quiescence of the creative spirit in our literature of recent years has found a certain compensation in the...
Note sur Mallarmé et Poe
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Il est téméraire à moi d’écrire sur Mallarmé. Sa poésie compte beaucoup d’admirateurs et même de fanatiques, hors de France, et particulièrement en Angleterre, qui sont mieux qualifiés pour prendre la parole. Il me faut donc chercher une excuse. Voici, je crois, la plus plausible : beaucoup...
Hooker, Hobbes, and Others. An unsigned review of The Social and Political Ideas of Some Great Thinkers of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. F. J. C. Hearnshaw
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Any series of lectures, however carefully revised for publication, is liable to produce an effect of informality and diffuseness; and a series of lectures by different authorities is liable to produce an effect of incoherence as well. This book is not free from either of these faults. It consists of eight lectures...
Massinger. An unsigned review of Étude sur la collaboration de Massinger avec Fletcher et son groupe, by Maurice Chelli; and Massinger’s A New Way to Pay Old Debts, ed. A. H. Cruickshank
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Philip Massinger has been fortunate beyond his contemporaries in having received such close attention from two scholars of the distinction of Canon Cruickshank and the late Maurice Chelli. The larger books of Canon Cruickshank and M. Chelli were reviewed in these columns at the times of...
More and Tudor Drama. An unsigned review of Early Tudor Drama: Medwall, the Rastells, Heywood, and the More Circle, by A. W. Reed
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The only reproach to be laid against this curiously interesting book is that its title is misleading. It should have been called “The Influence of Sir Thomas More upon Early Tudor Drama.” The book is a mine of detailed information, extracted from innumerable documents of the period in which...
Sir John Davies
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Chief Justice Davies died on December 7, 1626. He left a number of poems, a philosophical treatise, “Reason’s Academy,” some legal writings, and several long State Papers on Ireland. As a public servant he had a distinguished career; but very likely the poem which has preserved his memory, ...
Early Tudor Drama. To the Editor of the TLS
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Sir – I must apologise to Dr. Reed for having mistaken a Junius who was only a name in an obscure corner of my memory for a Junius with whom I am on more intimate terms. I presume that I was misled by the juxtaposition of the name of Junius with that of Dryden, these being, as I...
Medieval Philosophy. An unsigned review of History of Mediaeval Philosophy, by Maurice De Wulf
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To write a history of medieval or of scholastic philosophy – the two are not the same thing, and Professor de Wulf has tackled both – is anything but easy, especially when this history, from the beginning to the end of the sixteenth century, is to be condensed within two volumes. The author...
Mr. J. M. Robertson and Shakespeare. To the Editor of The Nation and the Athenaeum
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Sir, – I was not aware of “Kappa’s” contribution to Mr. J. M. Robertson’s birthday party until I read Mr. Middleton Murry’s letter in The Nation of December 4th. If it is not too late to intervene, I should be glad to express my cordial agreement with Mr. Murry’s protest. “Kappa’s” original comment...
Whitman and Tennyson. A review of Whitman: An Interpretation in Narrative, by Emory Holloway
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This book is in no way a critical examination of Whitman’s work; it has nothing to say – thank God! – about Whitman’s influence upon vers libre and contemporary American verse; it is silent about Whitman’s present standing in American literature. Mr. Van Wyck Brooks would have made...
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Page Count: 992
Illustrations: 31 halftones, 3 line drawings
Publication Year: 2014