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This review is taken from PN Review 74, Volume 16 Number 6, July - August 1990.

PRIVATE FACES, PUBLIC PLACES Antaeus: Journals, Notebooks & Diaries (Collins/Harvill) £8.95

Donald Hall, in his 'Working Journal', makes public his worryings about status, 'I am included in a new anthology, seven poems, and my name goes unmentioned in a history of my own generation'; he also publishes his uneasiness with such worryings, 'One wishes one never thought of such matters.' He writes: 'The alternative to self-deceit is silence'. Publication was not necessary to make the sentence fold back on itself like 'To Generalize is to be an Idiot'. Self-deceit can be preserved in silence, while all attempts at articulation are not doomed to collapse into self-deceit. The sentence first appeared on the pages of a poet's journal where it strikes home as a comment on the self-deceiving double view of established writers talking to themselves in private diaries with an eye to the figure their statements will cut when, as in this anthology of such writings, they are put into the public domain. This volume of Antaeus collects selec- tions from forty writers' papers, ranging from considered articu- lations of ideas to the merest jottings and marginalia. Such a collection will contain varieties and unevennesses; it is unlikely to please in its entirety.

Some of the poets' writings are a case in point. Will the remarks that are committed to such pages have been reflected upon enough to deserve publication? Or will they have been composed with so clear a view to print that they betray the supposed authenticity of a glimpse into the writer's working processes which ...


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