PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue Jen Schmitt on Ekphrasis Rachel Hadas on Text and Pandemic Kirsty Gunn Essaying two Jee Leong Koh Palinodes in the Voice of my Dead Father Maureen Mclane Correspondent Breeze
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This review is taken from PN Review 45, Volume 12 Number 1, September - October 1985.

DROPPING ALL HIS AITCHES The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse, chosen and edited by Roger Lonsdale (Oxford University Press) £15.00

I have little contact with English journals out here in Tokyo. They arrive weeks late and tend to be read in batches, serious sessions which induce an odd mixture of fatigue, nostalgia, boredom and mild disgust. The temptation to do this is now something I have learned to resist most of the time, so I am not aware (on Christmas Eve, 1984) if this book has been greeted with the acclaim it deserves. The only paper which arrives by air is The Observer, and I noted that Kingsley Amis (or someone like that) had chosen it as one of his books of the year, which ought to mean my shrill pipe of praise is but a part of a whole chorus, delivered too late perhaps to be other than an unmelodious adjunct to something already ended, rather than any pertinent variation on a continuing main theme.

That first paragraph of mine, with its tendency towards an urbane self-parody in no sense self-critical (nor even self-deprecatory) but only self-congratulatory, is one of the English legacies from the eighteenth century. It is the kind of thing that can make one vomit, but it can also be taken as the now decadent, out-of-date expression of a civilizing mode of achieving a modest satisfaction with the way things are given in such a manner as to make the large areas of human experience it ignores seem potentially included in an attitude which, if superficial, is at least not evil, and, if ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image