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This review is taken from PN Review 63, Volume 15 Number 1, September - October 1988.

Edwin Muir, Selected Prose, chosen, introduced and with a memoir by George Mackay Brown (John Murray) £15.00
'I was born on 15th May, 1887, in a farm called the Folly, in the parish of Deerness in Orkney.' Edwin Muir began his autobiography with one of his rare concessions to precise historical time. To mark the centenary of his fellow Orcadian's birth, George Mackay Brown has made an introductory selection from Muir's prose, including some of the less accessible essays and books published in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mackay Brown includes critical studies, autobiography and travel writing, and a few of Muir's letters. He has written an introduction and a concluding essay ('Edwin Muir at New-battle') which explains his own debt to Muir. As Warden of Newbattle Abbey during the 1950s, Muir - assisted considerably by his wife, Willa - was responsible for the education of many mature students, including Mackay Brown. The younger poet's enthusiasm for Muir's work had started some years before his obviously idyllic year under Muir's tutelage at Newbattle:


Sometime in the mid-forties I read the first version of his autobiography, The Story and the Fable. The opening - Muir's childhood in the island of Wyre, among the farm folk and animals and the ripening corn - still seems to me to be one of the most beautiful evocations of innocence and the slow stainings and renewings of time in the language.


Mackay Brown relates Muir's evocation of childhood in the Wyre sections of The Story and the Fable to the visions of childhood in ...


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