The human race thrives on agreeable surprises, particularly spectacular reverses of fortune. When the underdog triumphs our moral fervor is engaged: out there, we feel, a merciful Providence is keeping an eye on things; virtue will out. When Willia [...]
WITH the publication, a few months before his 70th birthday, of the twelfth and last volume of his sequence of novels A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell completed one of the most ambitious undertakings of postwar British fiction. The seri [...]
Americans have grown used to the perennial British economic crisis and have even grown bored with it; what comes as a surprise to even the best-informed in the United States is the possibility that the United Kingdom, as we now know it, may be in [...]
Despite the Palladian gracefulness of the style and the high spirits and charm of many of his novels, Evelyn Waugh's reputation is under a cloud. His strange behavior and opinions alienated many admirers during his lifetime; since his death in 1966, [...]
The Human Factor. By Graham Greene. Simon & Schuster. $9.95.
After more than 50 years before the reading public, Graham Greene has become an institution, the living proof that a contemporary novelist can tackle important subjects and still enjoy i [...]
If you are two brothers and a sister and you all write poetry, it is extremely hard not to be lumped together as a group.Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, as quoted in John Pearson's The Sitwells: a Family's Biography
In the early months of 1915, British [...]
In the tower the bell
is alone, like a man
in his room,
thinking and thinking.
The bell is made of iron.
It takes the weight
of a man
to make the bell move.
Far below, the bell feels
hands on a rope.
It considers this.
It turns its head.
In the summer of 1997 readers of the serious-minded British newspaper The Guardian were startled to find a front-page story about a new, ultra-chic London restaurant that had taken delivery of chips, (aka pommes frites, French fries) from the deliv [...]
This penultimate volume of the Virginia edition of Matthew Arnold's letters covers the years 1879—1884.1879 was his 57th year and the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems, his debut as a poet. Since that first volume Arnold had followed two vocations as poet and literary and social commentator and as leading figure in the British government's reforms of state education.
The Letters of Matthew Arnold, Volume 1, 1829—1859. Edited by Cecil Y. Lang. The University Press of Virginia.$60.00.
In Britain, the Arnolds, father and son, are still names to conjure with, their ideas still thought to be relevant. Just las [...]
Once upon a time, a French academic domiciled in the United States thought it would be a good idea to mark the opening of his university's newly instituted Humanities Center by holding a conference on Structuralism, the philosophic system which had penetrated most sections of French intellectual life and, in doing so, marginalized Existentialism, the immediate postwar reigning philosophy even while Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were still alive.
Dylan Thomas: In the Mercy of His Means. By George Tremlett. St. Martin's. $21.95.
Anyone who has followed the extraordinary after-death life of Dylan Thomas must blanch at the thought of another account of his career. We feel, justifiably or not, [...]
Memoirs. By Kingsley Amis. Summit Books. $25. 00.
When a man has been knighted by Mrs. Thatcher, that well-known reader of political thrillers, for services to literature; has been awarded the Booker Prize for the best novel of 1986, and is billed [...]
The Iron Lady: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher. By Hugo Young. Macmillan. $25.00.
Last spring, the British noted with varying degrees of rapture the tenth milestone of their journey through the late 20th century with the bossy lady with the handb [...]
Collected Poems, 1928—1985. By Stephen Spender. Random House. page=$1995
Journals, 1939—1983. By Stephen Spender. Random House. $19. 95.
When I opened Stephen Spender's Collected Poems last winter, one of the first that caught my eye was an ad [...]