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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

F. W. Bateson - in memoriam Donald Davie

F. W. (FREDDY) Bateson . . . it's odd that he should come to mind among my memories of California. True enough, I think, that the last time I saw him was indeed in a Californian house, Ian Watt's, above Woodside, magnificently perched, with its swimming-pool and sundeck, high on a steep woodside indeed, the conifer-clad slope of the Coastal Range, spine of the peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. But what reminds me of Freddy now isn't any remembered glimpse of him in that setting, but instead a reference to him, which I had forgotten until I lately came on it again, in Yvor Winter's last and mostly deplorable book, Forms of Discovery. Winter's usual way with other critics was either to pass over them in lordly and contemptuous silence, or else (with those he respected more) to pillory them for quoted imbecilities which he first exposed, then demolished. But of Freddy's English Poetry. A Critical Introduction he says abruptly: 'Bateson's book is one of the most valuable books on English poetry which I know.' And this is piquant, to say the least; for Freddy's personality and presence were as unimaginable outside Britain, as Winter's outside the United States. The mind boggles at what they would have made of each other, if ever they had met face to face. There was for instance that whole matter of 'Freddy'. It is a name out of Wodehouse, at once affectionate and contemptuous; and it was the name ...


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