- Pseudonymous letters for The Egoist
- The Johns Hopkins University Press and Faber & Faber Ltd
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[ 613 Pseudonymous letters for The Egoist1 The Egoist, 4 (Dec 1917) 165 We invite critical comment from our readers, and we regret that lack of space prevents us from printing more than excerpts from the following letters: Your writer on “Elizabethan Classicists” struck me, if I may say so without offence, as straining with youthful zeal after original opinions. His attempted rehabilitation of Ovid merely shows that the true taste for the Classics has gone out with the old classical curriculum; and as for his belittling of Milton–well, I do not believe that he could get a single one of the living Masters of criticism (Mr. Edmund Gosse, for example, or Sir Sidney Colvin) to even entertain such views.2 J. A. D. Spence/Thridlingston Grammar School. . . . I have, I pride myself, kept abreast of the times in literature; at least, if I have not, the times have moved very speedily indeed. I was therefore surprised, in what was otherwise an intelligent review (so far as I can judge, without having read the authors mentioned), to find Rupert Brooke dismissed abruptly with the words “He is not absent.”3 Brooke’s early poems exhibit a youthful exuberance of passion and an occasional coarseness of utterance, which offended finer tastes; but these were but dross which, as his last sonnets show, was purged away (if I may be permitted this word) in the fire of the Great Ordeal which is proving the well-spring of a Renaissance of English poetry. Helen B. Trundlett/Batton, Kent. . . . There was a serious and instructive article on Constantinople by a Mr. Symons which I greatly enjoyed. It is good for us to keep our minds open and liberal by contemplation of foreign ways, and though the danse du ventre is repellant to the British imagination, we ought to know that these things exist. I cannot speak so pleasantly of Mr. Lewis’s . . .4 Charles James Grimble/The Vicarage, Leays. . . . The philosophical articles interest me enormously; though they make me reflect that much water has flowed under many bridges since the days of my dear old Oxford tutor, Thomas Hill Green. And I am accustomed 1917: Journalism 614 ] to more documentation; I like to know where writers get their ideas from. . . .5 Charles Augustus Conybeare/The Carlton Club, Liverpool. . . . Is not Mr. Lewis’s objection to the Grin really a slur upon the cheery philosophy of our brave boys in the trenches, which has been so happily caught by the witty pen of Capt. Bairnsfather? And we all know that a little nonsense now and then . . .6 Muriel A. Schwarz/60 Alexandra Gardens, Hampstead, N.W. Notes 1. As filler for the Dec issue, TSE composed these whimsical “extracts,” purportedly from letters written by readers of recent articles in the Egoist. 2. In the Oct issue, in the second of his three-part essay on “Elizabethan Classicists,” Pound praises Arthur Golding’s 1567 translation of Metamorphoses by Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) and rails against Milton, asserting that “we have long since fallen under the blight of the Miltonic or noise tradition, to a stilted dialect in translating the classics, a dialect which imitates the idiom of the ancients rather than seeking their meaning” (135). Pound continues in part 3 (Nov 1917) with an assault on Milton’s character and his Latinization of English verse: “I am leaving apart all my disgust with what he has to say, his asinine bigotry, his beastly hebraism, the coarseness of his mentality, I am dealing with a technical matter” (154). The literary and art critics Edmund Gosse (1849-1928) and Sidney Colvin (1845-1927) had recently retired as, respectively, librarian of the House of Lords, and keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum. 3. In the previous issue, TSE had reviewed The New Poetry (“Reflections on Contemporary Poetry [III]”) , remarking of Brooke only that he “is not absent” in the anthology. 4. In “Notes Taken in Constantinople and Sofia,” in the Nov issue, Symons graphically describes a danse du ventre by a handsome Turkish girl: “then the arms quivered to the fingers and the breasts leapt; then a writhing of the loins; then a sort of wavelike movement sent up in turn from each leg . . . at times she crossed a small section of the stage, wriggling her feet almost imperceptibly, while several thrills followed each other” (154). The closing ellipsis refers to the final chapter and epilogue of the serialized novel Tarr (152-53) by Wyndham...