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This report is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

Edgell Rickwood Alan Munton
Edgell Rickword died on 15 March, aged 83. His first book of poems, Behind the Eyes, was published in 1921 and his second, Invocations to Angels, in 1928. Both books showed the influence of the French symbolists and possessed a lyric intensity unmatched in the period. The lyric manner was replaced by the satiric in Twittingpan, and some others (1931). A small number of poems were to follow, but by that year Rickword was already established as an influential editor, and as a translator of works by or concerning Rimbaud and Verlaine. His own book on Rimbaud, The Boy and the Poet, appeared in 1924.

His work as a literary critic was in two main areas. As one of the editors of the Calendar of Modern Letters (1925-1927) and of the two volumes of Scrutinies (1928 and 1931), he was involved both in recognizing what has become accepted as the canon of modernism, and in offering some of the most significant early criticism of it. This may be said of his response to the work of T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Virginia Woolf, Roy Campbell, Edith Sitwell and a number of others. In his essay on Woolf, Rickword speaks of the educated readers of the mid-l920s as being 'passionate, if at all, only about values and not experience'. Rickword's profoundly educated literary sensibility was always alert to the importance of experience. His own, in the First World War, had been significant enough: he won the Military Cross, but was ...


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