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This item is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

Letters from Ray Garson, David Arkell, W.S.Milne, Nicholas Murray
Newcastle is Peru

I am fascinated by two points raised in your report (by David Arkell) on Literary Newcastle by Alan Myers: In what context did John Cleveland write the line 'Correct your maps: Newcastle is Peru': and did Sir Charles Trevelyan really 'walk the moors in total nudity' When he was Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland?

London WC2

David Arkell writes: Cleveland used coal as the symbol of Newcastle wealth in his poem 'News from Newcastle':

England's a perfect world, hath Indies too;
Correct your maps, Newcastle is Peru…
Had he our pits, the Persian would admire
No sun, but warm his devotion at our fire…
For wants he heat, or light, or would have store
Of both? 'Tis here and what can suns give more?

Sir Charles's 'total nudity' was no doubt in similar vein symbolic, i.e. when a Lord Lieutenant in pre-war days removed his shirt on a rather hot day while out shooting rabbits it just seellzed like 'total nudity'.

The Axe

I don't know whether it adds something new to the poem, or not, but the typo in lain Crichton Smith's 'John Knox' (sharing for shearing: November-December 1994) rather detracts (does it not?) from the brutal fact of Mary Queen of Scots' execution?


A footnote to Raymond Tallis' latest letter on Theory. Nearly three years after the event I continue to marvel at Terry Eagleton's insouciant admission - in his inaugural lecture as Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at Oxford on 27 November 1992 - 'I don't intend to say much at all about critical theory… since I find myself increasingly restive with a discourse which obtrudes its ungainly bulk between reader and text.'

Since Terry Eagleton has made a career out of turning out new handbooks to the latest fashions in critical theory, each new season brutally discarding the styles of the last, his weariness with the whole business is understandable. But he seems to have come back to the departure lounge where most of us were still sipping bad coffee in plastic cups waiting for the absent flight - the one that would take the reader to the text not 'obtrude its ugly bulk' between the two.

How often have our knuckles been rapped, by Terry and others, for refusing to accept that Theory tout court- regardless of any particular work it had to do in making sense of literary texts - demanded obeisance. Eagleton's breezy candour about the whole business having been, after all, a waste of time is delivered with his usual vivacity so I suppose I don't mind. But it does make you think…


This item is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

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