Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Hal Coase 'Ochre Pitch' Gregory Woods 'On Queerness' Kirsty Gunn 'On Risk! Carl Phillips' Galina Rymbu 'What I Haven't Written' translated by Sasha Dugdale Gabriel Josipovici 'No More Stories' Valerie Duff-Strautmann 'Anne Carson's Wrong Norma'
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 276, Volume 50 Number 4, March - April 2024.

Cover of Exile and Other Poems
John GreeningRichard Aldington, Exile and Other Poems, with introduction and notes by Elizabeth Vandiver and Vivien Whelpton (Renard Press) £10
A Gesture of Disgust

Richard Aldington (1892–1962) is most often remembered for his biographies and memoirs or for his relationship with the poet H.D.; his own poetry tends to be overlooked by critics and anthologists, something he lamented in a characteristically crotchety introduction to his 1948 Complete Poems. He certainly wouldn’t have been pleased to find himself excluded from Tim Kendall’s landmark Poetry of the First World War (Oxford, 2013). If he has lacked a popular following, it may be because the work has yet to reach enough readers; or perhaps because – witness the title poem of Exile (1923) – it still betrays that intrusive ‘anger and bitterness’ noted by Edmund Blunden (in a TLS review quoted by the editors) which leads him into ‘gestures of disgust which do not belong to the poet in him’. Although he had published a good deal before this collection, according to his editors it is his ‘first substantial attempt to process the trauma of his experience in poetry’. That trauma was chiefly the First World War, which shaped and marred both the man and the work, but it is also a dysfunctional family background and the stillbirth of the child he had with Hilda. This new edition, beautifully produced by Renard for Aldington’s centenary, would be worth having just for the first-rate introduction and the detailed background notes which give a very clear summary of his troubles.

Setting those aside, the poetry is enjoyable within the limitations of Aldington’s self-obsessed and determinedly unlyrical style. There is an arresting realism ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image