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ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 Nicknames get honorary capitals and function as pseudo-proper names, honouring or dishonouring the nicknamee, or pretending to. In this area, Kipling is unrivalled in capturing certain features and phrases of English social life. Consider the ludicrous but curiously affecting moment in Stalky & Co., in which a young officer describes to the impressionable schoolboys the death of a comrade, whom he recognises at the last minute to be an old school-mate. Ί never knew it was one of us until I was right on top of him. There are heaps of Duncans in the Service, and of course the name didn't remind me .... I gave him a drink and sat down beside him, and—funny thing, too—he said, "Hullo, Toffee!" and I said, "Hullo, Fat-Sow! Hope you aren't hurt," or something of that kind. But he died in a minute or too. And this: Then he turned his face to the wall and died. Reggie drew the sheet over Its face ... (Ά Bank Fraud') There is no blurring the passage from 'he' to 'It'. Here, as elsewhere, a distinction is scrupulously marked. The capital marks an ironic respect, a kind of wry honouring. At such moments the capitalising of 'It' serves as a kind of short-term irony, a minimal nickname. Kipling has all too rarely received critical reading and attention of this order of subtlety and alertness. Anyone seriously interested in thinking again about his work will need to begin with the essays in Kipling Considered. Harry Ricketts Victoria University of Wellington Hardy the Poet Dennis Taylor. Hardy's Metres and Victorian Prosody. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. xi + 297 $35.00 WITH THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION of Browning, no other Victorian poet suffered more critical abuse for his metrical roughness than did Thomas Hardy. Even those commentators who have written most movingly in defense of Hardy's poetry have conceded the occasional accents of an architect drawing up specifications "so that all the Muses hold their ears in pain" (G. M. Young), or deplored those intricate stanzas "like clumps of brambles" (G. Grigson) that etch rather than sing their way into the reader. In spite of Hardy's sometimes labored and wheezy rhythms and his stanzas that appear often 332 Book Reviews to have been selected randomly, the true "Hardy-ite" is compelled to describe and account for the peculiar charm and emotional power of Hardy's poetry. Dennis Taylor is the first Hardy scholar to have tackled, at book length, the baffling metrical idiosyncrasies at the centre of Hardy's poetry, and the first to have placed these idiosyncrasies convincingly into their historical context. Taylor's primary concern in the early chapters of Hardy's Metres and Victorian Prosody is to trace the evolution of a metrical theory that might account for the characteristic "thwartness" of Hardy's verse rhythms. The sense of metrical frustration—of a distinctive metrical stammer—in many of Hardy's poems has been commented upon by such critics as Guerard, Paulin and Richardson. This stammer derives from the tension in many of Hardy's poems between metrical necessity and some second rhythmic pattern, such as the variable pattern of colloquial speech. After giving a brief historical overview of the dominant theories of English prosody from the Renaissance to the Romantic period, Taylor asks the central question confronting Victorian theorists and poets alike: "How does the metrist avoid the Scylla of accentualism, counting only the stresses, and the Charybdis of eighteenth-century mechanism, counting only the syllables (or, archaically, the quantities)?" What intrigued the nineteenth century, states Taylor, was "the legal status of variety," the extent to which a poem's metrical signature, so to speak, could be violated in the interests of spontaneity without damage to the poetry itself. Numerous nineteenth-century theorists contributed to the discussion of this issue (Taylor invokes more than a dozen), but the two most influential for Hardy were Hegel, who appears to have formally introduced the concept of metrical counterpoint, and Coventry Patmore, whose 1857 essay "English Metrical Critics" stressed the notion of "abstract spacing" produced by a pattern of stresses and nonstresses . In addition, Patmore formulated a theory of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 332-336
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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