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PN Review 276
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This item is taken from PN Review 23, Volume 8 Number 3, January - February 1982.

Carol Voigt, Richard Kostelanetz, Dick Davis, A.D Harvey
Sir: I enjoyed Adrian Clarke's brief essay 'Olson and the Old World' (PNR 20). He might have brought the Du Bellay point even closer home if he had embraced in his allusion to Quevedo's superb version of the Roman sonnets Spenser's, which have a remarkable force, though perhaps not quite so remarkable as Quevedo's.

Isn't it time for someone to take once again the measure of Du Bellay and remind modern readers just how central he was? Is this a task for PNR? I think it is.
Boston, Massachusetts


Sir: Dick Davis (PNR 20) reads like an unbright academic, so proud of his perfunctory obtuse responses to experimental poetry; but he lacks the academic virtue of scrupulousness. He doubts my sanity and gratuitously adds that my introduction to my anthology Text-Sound Texts (William Morrow) 'makes one unsure whether to laugh or cry'-a response that is not only his privilege but perhaps a vivid index of his intelligence and the range of his literary sensitivity. In the same sentence he quotes a passage supposedly from my introduction about 'hazardous polyvalencies of process', etc. However, neither this phrase nor the passage are mine. Where did they come from? My first inclination is to believe that Davis made them up-no doubt to impress his literary betters (and perhaps his departmental chairman or thesis supervisor)-its author is none other than himself, foisting a bad example off on me. England may have lower standards than America regarding this sort of thing, especially when it is done on behalf of literary Philistinism; but in the U.S. students fabricating evidence are customarily flunked.

New York, New York

Dick Davis writes: The offending sentence quoted in my review does not occur in Mr Kostelanetz's general preface to the book; it does however occur in the introduction to one particular section of the book (should Mr Kostelanetz not be able to find his way round his own book-and he has my sympathy if this is the case-it is on page 277). The author of each section of the book is given at the top of each page; the page in question has no name at the top and I therefore assumed it to be by the editor-it certainly bears the distinguishing marks of his style (pretension and incoherence). If the passage is not by Mr. Kostelanetz I congratulate him.

Mr Kostelanetz accuses me of being an upstart and an academic. To the first charge I have no answer; to the second more terrible accusation I plead not guilty. My articles are written to satisfy nothing but my own conscience and judgement, both of which told me without a moment's hesitation that Mr Kostelanetz's book is mere self-important gibberish. The copy I received has 'No Commercial Value' stamped on the inside cover-this seems to be the only honest statement in the whole 440 pages, and one of the very few to which a definite meaning can be assigned. I agree with that meaning.


Sir: In his review of my English Poetry in a Changing Society 1780-1825 (PNR 20), John Clark's remark about my 'inability to perceive any major literary reaction to the Industrial Revolution' takes no account either of what I say in my book (pages 6 and 79ff) or of my article 'First Public Reactions to the Industrial Revolution', published in études Anglaises xxxi (1978) and reprinted as an appendix in my recent English Literature and the Great War with France. This article is referred to in the notes of the book Mr Clark reviewed (p. 178) and he ought to have noted it before drawing his conclusions. He might also benefit from reading Part Three of my Britain in the Early Nineteenth Century which deals with the government's response to and impact on economic affairs, and places this question of responses to industrialisation in some sort of historical context.

Although John Clark may believe that the Industrial Revolution was the most noteworthy event of the period under discussion, this view seems to have been shared by precious few of the writers who were alive at the time. In part my book was an attempt to unravel the attitudes of the 1800s from the glib misrepresentations of modern literary critics; but perhaps I made the mistake of over-estimating the scholarship of the scholarly audience I had addressed myself to.

London N 4

This item is taken from PN Review 23, Volume 8 Number 3, January - February 1982.

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