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176 GEORGE JOHNSTON of "Truth" to "Delight in Sensation".' In the last four chapters we are treated to a brilliant exploration of Keats's sympathetic imagination manifested in his attitude to practical jokes, in his use of the pathetic fallacy to communicate his 'deepest, truest blushes,' and in the way he took leave of his friends. Ricks is a brilliant critic, perhaps the most exciting literary critic writing in English today. He has a poet's understanding of the way language works, and his own prose is athletic and daring. With consummate skill he can reconstruct a Keatsian chain of thought or feeling so that one thinks yes, that's the way it must have been. In his interpretive daring and his semiotic scrutiny he comes close to Empson; in his subtle psychologizing he reminds one of Trilling. It is in such company that Ricks belongs, for what engages and delights us in his criticism is what engages and delights us in the writing of any superior critic: a well-stocked mind and a truly agile and discriminating intelligence. One last thing. Reading this book I realized - fully for the first time- what Eliot meant when he said of Keats's letters: 'The letters are certainly the most notable and the most important ever written by any English poet.... There is hardly one statement of Keats about poetry, which, when considered carefully and with due allowance for the difficulties of communication, will not be found to be true.' It is another proof of Ricks's excellence as a critic that he makes even someone who has read the letters several times before feel that he is encountering many of them for the first time. (JAMES DOWNEY) GRETTIR'S SAGA* The sagas are classics of our European civilization, and Old Norse is one of the most literate of our northern classical languages. We have known the Mediterranean classics for centuries; they have become embedded in our languages and folk ways, but the northern classics, although they are less rich and varied, are no less important to us, no less a part, as it were, of our cultural bedrock, and it can only be a good thing to have them well translated into English. Fox and PaIsson's translation of Grettissaga does not exactly supersede Hight's translation, which has recently been re-issued with a new introduction and notes by Peter Foote, but it does provide a valuable version in its own right, more up-to-date, different in tone, and not bowdlerized. Fox and PaIsson have respected the seriousness of their text and have rendered it into an English that is both dignified and consistent. Their language is worth noting: it is not especially lively or poetic, but on the other hand it does not draw attention to itself, and avoids modernity and slanginess. Its virtues are not to be felt in particular passages but rather in a steadiness of tone that carries all the variety of moods in the saga, from the tragedy of Grettir's death to the comedy of Thorstein's romance with Spes, without losing the integrity of its voice. This is a * Grettir's Saga, translated by Denton Fox and Hermann palsson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1974. Pp xiii, 199. Photographs, maps, and an appendix. $15.00 GRETTIR'S SAGA 177 considerable achievement in current English, which hardly exists as a single language and is full of enticing ephemeral vocabularies. Some translators of the Old Norse prose classics have been tempted to think that because they were popular in their day they ought to be turned into popular reading for today. But although their prose is true prose and is not poetic, the sagas have the clarity and economy and rhythmic certainty of classic poetry, and efforts to turn them into popular fiction are misguided. In an admirable introduction Fox and Prusson have drawn attention to the tragic seriousness of their text, and their translation bears out their appreciation of this seriousness. The saga presents such a variety of incidents and its hero's exploits are so various that it is not easy to see the continuity and depth of its character portrayal. Fox...


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