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This article is taken from PN Review 159, Volume 31 Number 1, September - October 2004.

The Burning Baby and the Bathwater; 11: 'Faith, Hope and Hilarity' James Keery

11: `Faith, Hope and Hilarity'

In PNR 151, I discussed a single tantalising sentence in a letter from John Goodland to Henry Treece, dated 15 October 1938.1 In the meantime, simply by restoring a faint Roman `i' after the `x', Andrew Crozier has reassigned this letter to November, thus depriving it of priority as the first extant use of the word `apocalyptic' in relation to the movement.2 As things stand now, this distinction belongs to an earlier letter from Goodland to the same correspondent, dated 12 November 1938:

I'm thinking of editing, in collaboration with Moore and a certain Dorian Cooke an anthology-cum-manifesto of `apocalyptic', post Auden-New Verse, New Writing etc. writing. It would contain preferably unpublished work by Thomas, Miller, Durrell, Moore, Cooke, probably Norman McCaig, J.F. Hendry, George Barker, Kay Boyle, Laurence Vail, Anaïs Nin, possibly Hart Crane and Kafka etc. And critical articles about the `group or movement'. Its origins, its relations to other contemporary writing and affairs, its own intrinsic value, and examination of component writers. This double approach hasn't in my knowledge been attempted so far.3

Goodland's letter corroborates Nicholas Moore's recollection that the `movement' was `started by Goodland, Dorian and myself'.4 There follows a list of `probabl[es]', a category consisting of contributors to the first two issues of Seven, which had appeared in May and around August 1938.5 It seems likely that a similar approach was made to each of these writers. The initial contingent ...


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