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

Preface Stephen Bann


Adrian Stokes died in London in December 1972. 'From that moment', as Richard Wollheim puts it in the opening essay of this collection, 'his fame began to spread.' A reputation that had been carefully tended by a unique group of friends and disciples, eminent in virtually all branches of artistic and humane study, began to take root elsewhere. This supplement devoted to Stokes's achievement takes account, as is inevitable, of the very diverse signs of this broadening reputation. It comprises critical estimates and personal recollections by a number of the friends who both supported and drew sustenance from his lifelong dedication to art. But it also contains contributions from the younger-indeed the youngest-generation of critics and poets, who are themselves representative of a widening interest in his work already evident, for example, in our universities. I myself, falling between these two groups, can testify to the fact that I was initially introduced to Stokes's writings by the students of my faculty. Clearly I must also deplore the fact that this belated introduction took place later than 1972.

It is the sheer exhilaration of Stokes's diversity of interests that will strike the reader of this supplement first of all. Lawrence Gowing's admirable edition of the Critical Writings, published in three volumes in 1978 and frequently quoted here, represents without doubt the central corpus of his work, majestically gathering strength between 1930 and 1967. In this collection, however, a more Protean figure is evoked. Not only ...

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