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This review is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

WHO DO YOU THINK WE ARE? The Faber Book of Landscape Poetry, edited by Kenneth Baker (Faber) £25.00
ROGER SCRUTON, England: An Elegy (Chatto & Windus) £16.99

The following letter, from C.N. Campbell of London N16, appeared in the Independent on 16 June 2000:

Sir: In her article on Prince William's forthcoming birthday (14 June) Deborah Orr frequently uses the phrase 'We all ...' to implicate everyone in her interest in the matter. I cannot sufficiently stress how utterly wrong this is. Many of us really don't care. We're not just pretending. We don't care much about the football either. In fact we are all heartily sick of being agglomerated in this way.

Exactly so. We have had an epidemic of agglomeration, along with its related virus dumbing-down, over the past few years: politicians, who employ it to make like-mindedness indistinguishable from like-mindlessness, have infected an alarming number of journalists, commentators, analysts - in fact, almost anyone whose job it is to make empty words sound authoritative and meaningful. In its most excruciating form it mutates into formulae such as 'As we have all seen on our television screens ...' which, for those of us whose televisions remain except for rare occasions blessedly unplugged, is a simple impossibility. All this struck me the more forcefully when I read C.N. Campbell's letter last summer, because I'd just finished Jonathan Bate's The Song of the Earth a devastating instance of the way in which agglomeration can ruin a perfectly good book.

Bate's book has been widely admired, but it has two troublesome flaws. The first is a propensity to ...


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