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This article is taken from PN Review 116, Volume 23 Number 6, July - August 1997.

T.E. Hulme: An Introduction Patrick McGuinness

It is seeing real clay, that men in agony worked with, that gives pleasure. To read a book which is real clay moulded by fingers that had to mould something, or they would clutch the throat of their maddened author. No flowing on of words, but tightly clutched tense fingers leaving marks in the clay. These are the only books that matter - and where are they to be found?'
   (T.E. Hulme, 'Notes on Language and Style')


                            I
Between 1909 and his death in battle in 1917, T.E. Hulme published on a wide variety of issues germane to the artistic, cultural and political movements of the early twentieth century in Europe. The range of subjects Hulme compressed into this sort writing life is impressive, and the list, even partial, reads like a breathless but purposeful trek through the period. He wrote poems described by T.S. Eliot as among 'the most beautiful in the English language'; he wrote and lectured on poetry and poetic theory; he composed, in fragmented but clear-edged form, a 'Sketch for a New Weltanschauung' and 'Notes on Language and Style'; he championed the French philosopher Henri Bergson, before switching allegiance to Bergson's detractors; he argued for 'Classicism' and the 'Religious Attitude' against 'Romanticism' and 'humanism', sending those arguments hurtling out of the literary and into the political - the practical political - realm; he plucked, too, from the theological, buttressing his arguments with talk of 'Original Sin'; he translated and ...


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