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This review is taken from PN Review 85, Volume 18 Number 5, May - June 1992.

REVIEWS
GRANTCHESTER REVISITED
Song of Love, Letters of Rupert Brooke and Noel Olivier, edited by Pippa Harris (Bloomsbury) £17.99

The book is solid, handsome, and rewarding, but Song of Love - the phrase comes from Brooke's poem The Fish - is not only insipid but quite inept as a title. The editor, who is a granddaughter of Noel, has in other respects served us well, providing a biographical introduction, short narrative links, supporting photographs, and an epilogue which at least points to the disgusted reactions of Brooke's former friends, to his wartime fame and posthumous image. There is a useful Biographical Appendix and Bibliography. But Pippa Harris's choice of title is insensitive to the cross-purposes and collisions of the five-year relationship between Brooke and Noel Olivier which now comes to light.

It is right that I should declare my interest. In Afterword on Rupert Brooke (1976) I tried to put together a narrative-reflective poem on Brooke's personality and poetry, and the atmosphere of England before 1914. Writing sixty years after his death, I was using material which had become available only in the 1960s, in Christopher Hassall's biography (1964) and Geoffrey Keynes's edition of the Letters (1968). These books could not and did not claim to tell 'all', but they amounted to a massive revelation, a new image crowded with detail, not only of the poet but of his Cambridge friends.

The centre and climax of Hassall's story was Brooke's disastrous love affair with Ka Cox in 1912, and this became the focus of my piece and dictated its plan. But the misadventure with ...


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