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PN Review 276
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This item is taken from PN Review 109, Volume 22 Number 5, May - June 1996.

Letters from Anthony Rudolf, William Cookson and Rupert M. Loydell
Striding On

Thank you for reviewing Flashlight Sonata by Robert Sheppard (PNR 107),

I'm grateful for this, our first book Review in your magazine, but slightly aghast that it's taken three years for a Review to surface (the book was published in 1993), and at the unnecessary dig at the press contained in James Keery's Review. I can't actually totally disagree with his opinion that 'Stride has produced some odd-angled, glue-stained volumes in his [sic] time', but looking at the reference shelves here it's been at least five, if not six, years since anything remotely like that description has emerged from Stride, and much longer to find anything I'm actually embarrassed by! It's sad that Stride has to be judged by its past - a past we've moved on from, instead of our current production and output. (Sheppard's book itself is not of the finish we've moved on to in the last three years.)

I hope that you'll feel able to Review more Stride books in your magazine - PN Review is, after all, one of the few serious Review journals we have in the literary/poetry world - but hope they'll be judged on their own and not saddled with any baggage that a Reviewer feels like loading on!


A Miracle of Work

It is clear that your Note in PNR 107 on the editor of Adam, Miron Grindea, was based on the obituaries in the national press, including my own in the Independent, and perhaps on my speech delivered at his funeral and published in the Sunday Telegraph. Your summary was quite well done but although it is not misleading to say 'there is no consistency about Adam, (the meaning of 'consistency' here is not entirely clear), you are wrong to state that 'its chief virtue was its survival': that was not a virtue, it was a miracle, a 'miracle of work' in Max Jacob's phrase. No, its chief virtue was the excellent material it sometimes published. I wrote in my obituary: '… the best of Adam would make a splendid anthology. As with all the other great eclectic magazines the worst will be quietly forgotten.'


An Heroic Struggle

As a contributor to Sons of Ezra, I'd like to comment on R.A. Page's Review (PNR 108).

First, he does not appear to have read Pound in any depth or he would not have referred to the early, but seminal series of essays, 'I Gather the Limbs of Osiris' (Selected Prose, pages 21-43) as 'a poem'.

Secondly, he uses the phrase, 'Ezra's moral downfall'. This won't do! However much some may loathe aspects of Pound's political polemics, there can be no denying his moral courage in attacking wars and their underlying causes in (to use Geoffrey Hill's words) 'the tyranny of Mammon'.

Finally, I find it hard to believe that Page has read the Cantos, or he could not have said they are 'the antithesis of heroic' adding 'the scope is entirely private'. On the contrary, as a reader who has enjoyed and lived with the Cantos most of his adult life, I have found them to express an heroic struggle of light against darkness: 'A little light, like a rushlight/to lead back to splendour' (Canto 116). When all is said and done, no one in the twentieth century has made a poem of such wonder and scope.


This item is taken from PN Review 109, Volume 22 Number 5, May - June 1996.

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