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This review is taken from PN Review 5, Volume 5 Number 1, October - December 1978.

A METAPHYSICAL HUNGER William T. Pritchard, Seeing Through Everything: English Writers 1918-1940, Faber, £5.95.

Seeing Through Everything is not a survey or history of English literature between the wars but a selective and suggestive essay 'which attempts to move more or less chronologically through the period and come to terms with its most significant and enduring literary monuments'. Such a book depends for its success on the perceptiveness of the author, his ability to choose among the possible candidates for discussion, and to speak interestingly about each writer and each work. Indulgence in extreme selectivity imposes at least this imperative on a literary critic. It would be eccentric and churlish to insist upon originality in every section but in a book of this sort the reader must feel that where he disagrees with the author the argument is at least worth the effort. Professor Pritchard passes this test and his work may therefore be counted a success. The writers considered are important and the works discussed are 'significant and enduring literary monuments' of his chosen period: Eliot, Lewis, Huxley, Lawrence, Ford, Auden, Orwell and so forth. The list is the reverse of eccentric but no less justified for that.

The tone of the book is classical not because of the particular critical respect which Pritchard displays for Eliot and Lewis-`my own favorite modern literary men'-but for the measured, balanced nature of his judgements. A book of conscious maturity, Seeing Through Everything reserves its hardest judgements for the rejected mentors of the author's youth, D. H. Lawrence and Dylan Thomas, and even ...


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