Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 47, Volume 12 Number 3, January - February 1986.

AN UNEVENTFUL JOURNEY Frank Delaney, Betjeman Country (Granada) £4.95 pb.

If Frank Delaney is the thinking person's Russell Harty, then his book Betjeman Country must be the Michelin Guide to that poet's world. Its format (rectangular enough to fit into the glove compartment) and its unremarkable line-drawings and photographs (too many of which sport the obligatory framing branches), smack more of the traveller's guide than of a book about a poet. Even Delaney himself appears to be faintly surprised by the bizarre nature of the project and his suggestion in the Introduction that the reader might 'leave his armchair and wander off in the same spirit of enthusiastic enquiry to a fair in Pinner, or a crescent in Bath or a golf club in Surrey' seems to lack any real conviction that such a journey is worthwhile. For, of course, as he admits in the Postcript - 'I finally found that the reality was not so important' - 'Betjeman country' is a state of mind rather than a conglomerate of places on a map. Unlike most recent British poets, landscape for Betjeman carries no sense of revelation or epiphany; instead, it comes increasingly, in its mild and predictable beauty, to act as a gentle anodyne against what the poet perceives to be the casual cruelty and brute insensitivity of its inhabitants. This function of nature cannot be adequately caught in photographs; it comes out instead as visual cliché and sadly much of the book borders on that. Where there are interesting photographs, or photographs of interesting things, the reader ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image