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PNR 277
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This item is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

Letters from Silas Gunn, Patrick Crotty, Neil Powell
Corrigenda, and the Incorrigible


In connection with your Editorial to PNR 200, I note that Crow was published in 1970 in Great Britain, not 1972, with a famous damning review by Ian Hamilton in the TLS in early 1971, accompanied by his equally famous review of Notebook, which apparently prompted Lowell's subsequent revisions.Crow was the first occasion on which my hapless alter ego, James Sutherland-Smith, much given to versifying, reviewing, feuilleton and impertinent impersonation, had a negative review spiked for Poetry & Audience at Leeds University on the grounds that as he was reading Political Studies he couldn't possibly know what he was talking about. Perhaps it would have been more apt if you had cited Donald Davie's Collected Poems 1950 to 1970. My smirking alter ego tells me that Berryman's Delusions etc and Anne Sexton's The Book of Folly were also published in 1972.

I enjoyed the spite of Frederic Raphael's essay although having taken part in a revolution in 1989 and worked in Serbia after the fall of Milošević I am more inclined to wonder where the line between compro mise, self-serving and wicked actions can be drawn. I am chastened every time I walk into the centre of the town where I live as I cross the single-track railway which used to run a service to Cracow. In the Second World War Jews from Hungary, the part of Czechoslovakia now in the Ukraine and possibly from Romania were transported northwards along this line to Auschwitz. The line, like humanity, continues to function. Pound's anti-semitism was forgiven because the literary establishment responsible for saving him had much to forgive themselves on that score. If Pound had not been forgiven we would be without the Pisan Cantos and probably the later work of Geoffrey Hill, at least in the form and tone they possess. Pound, of course, was incorrigible in the pejorative seventeenth-century sense of the word. I still can't decide whether his remark about 'an unforgivable suburban prejudice' meant that the unforgivable thing is harbouring a murderous prejudice, or being suburban.

By email

Temptation, Resisted


I feel I should resist the temptation to engage with the delightfully contradictory openings of John McAuliffe in his review of my Penguin Book of Irish Poetry (PNR 199). I cannot allow the competence of my publishers to be impugned, however. McAuliffe states that George Sigerson's 'The Heavenly Pilot' 'suffers a typo in its final line'. It does not. The line in question is misprinted in Kathleen Hoagland's 1000 Years of Irish Poetry (1947). Perhaps your reviewer believes I should have based my book on earlier anthologies rather than primary sources...


Whose Folly?


A reader has kindly pointed out that in 'The End Crowns All' (PNR 200) I mentioned Aylmer's Folly, a tower in Ireland of which I may somehow have heard, when I meant Almayer's Folly, the title of Conrad's first novel. On this occasion, I fear, the folly is all mine.


This item is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

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