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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

on Edgell Rickword Julian Symons

I bought Twittingpan and some others, a little booklet in orange paper covers, for sixpence instead of its proper half-crown, outside Zwemmers a few months after it was published in 1931, and admired the wit, irony, fastidiousness of these satiric poems. How excellent the longish poem about the homosexual aesthete (`He had championed Epstein, Gertrude, and Parade,/and even now was nothing of a die-hard'), how sparklingly sceptical the modern metaphysical poems, how well Rickword categorized 'the contemporary muse' of 1930:


A simpering, baby-faced suburban trull
come up to Town to find the fools more dull
than in her native Wimbledon, and bent
on turning an honest pound to pay her rent.


I secured the earlier Invocation to Angels and found some copies of the by now extinct Calendar of Modern Letters partly edited by Rickword, read his fine essay on Wyndham Lewis in Scrutinies. In the following years I looked for a book of essays, another collection of poems, but they never appeared. Instead, Rickword became one of the editors of the sectarian Left Review. What would the editor of the Calendar have had to say about the literary level of Left Review? But by now Rickword, like his co-editor of the Calendar Douglas Garman, had joined the Communist Party, and was not much concerned with such literary levels.

Around the end of the War I met Edgell, by then co-editor with Randall Swingler of yet ...


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