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This article is taken from PN Review 81, Volume 18 Number 1, September - October 1991.

Newton's Sleep: A Reply to Grevel Lindop Raymond Tallis

DR LINDOP's erudite and impassioned polemic is just what one might expect from a fine poet and an outstanding scholar in the field in which I have trodden so clumsily. (As J.L. Austin once said, 'one must be at least one sort of fool to rush in over ground so well trodden by the angels'.) And at first sight, his response looks like a thorough demolition job: Tallis has got his facts wrong and he has drawn the wrong conclusions from those few facts he has got right. When, however, the dust settles, it becomes apparent that not a brick has been dislodged.

Dr Lindop begins by quoting Blake: 'Opposition is true friendship'. This is reassuring but even true friendship can be a little irritating if opposition is based on misunderstanding - or misreading. (It is the seemingly inescapable fate of those who accuse others of misreading to be misreaders themselves.) It is particularly trying to be accused of overlooking the very things that I myself have actually drawn attention to and to have my own arguments reiterated - as arguments against me! Time and again, I found myself looking back to my own piece thinking 'I'm sure I said that' and finding that I had. For example, he reminds me that the 'Two Cultures' debate goes back before Snow v Leavis. In Newton (2), I refer to the Huxley v Arnold. He tells me that Blake's Newton has little relation to the real Newton - as ...


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