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This article is taken from PN Review 146, Volume 28 Number 6, July - August 2002.

Revisiting a Collaboration Patrick McGuinness and Charles Mundye

Mistrust me not, then, if I have begun
Unwontedly and if I seem to shun
Unstrange and much-told ground:
For in peculiar earth alone can I
Construe the word and let the meaning lie
That rarely may be found.
                 Laura Riding, from 'As Well as Any Other'


He continues quick and dull in his clear images;
I continue slow and sharp in my broken images.

He in a new confusion of his understanding:
I in a new understanding of my confusion.
                 Robert Graves, from 'In Broken Images'

A Survey of Modernist Poetry and A Pamphlet Against Anthologies confront the difficult literature of early twentieth- century poetic modernism. They are not just works of literary criticism, however insightful their to-the-minute reflections on such writers as T.S Eliot, W.B. Yeats, e.e. cummings, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore or Hart Crane, and however they might serve to document the production and reception of experimental writing in the early twentieth century. In the 1920s, both Laura Riding and Robert Graves were committed wholeheartedly to the cause of poetry, and these books eschew the analytical focus of 'objective' criticism. Partial, subjective and polemical, these are deeply serious works: not criticism or literary history in the conventional sense, but rather written with the passion and force of poetic manifestos.

Both books provide reflections by practising poets not only on the technical language of poetry, but on the ...


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