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This review is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

SURPRISINGLY LITTLE RUBBISH A.T. TOLLEY, British Literary Periodicals of World War II & Aftermath: A Critical History (Golden Dog Press). UK distribution by I.D. Edrich Ltd., 17 Selsdon Road, London E11 2QF (www.idedrich.co.uk)

In the summer of 1946, a reviewer in Scrutiny complained of 'a mushroom growth of little magazines and miscellanies', produced by 'coteries' who 'adopt some eccentric code of their own' or 'accept without question the latest Bloomsbury fashions'. In a sweeping gesture, even by Scrutiny standards, 'the little reviews in all their pathetic diversity' are superbly dismissed. Not to be outdone, the next man in finds space in a scathing review of Deaths and Entrances to sneer at its favourable reception by 'the litter of artistic periodicals'. In his opinion, Dylan Thomas 'offers at best an appeal to the sophisticated eye on the lookout for the cheap frisson of recognising a trick which some other competitive poetry-lover missed'. There could hardly be a better answer to these competitive poetry-lovers than British Literary Periodicals, a sequel to Professor Tolley's classic text, The Poetry of the Forties (Manchester University Press, 1985). It is, amongst other things, a celebration of diversity. According to Larkin, 'there was no reason to become entangled in the undergrowth of Poetry Quarterly and Poetry London', but in the course of disentangling so much of it, Tolley gives lots of reasons. There is nothing indulgent about his approach, typified by his tribute to Poetry London: 'There was, in fact, surprisingly little rubbish'. Yet anyone who follows him on his explorations is ...


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