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This article is taken from PN Review 231, Volume 43 Number 1, September - October 2016.

Everything Should Mean: The Poetry of D. J. Enright John Greening
THE POET, NOVELIST, essayist, reviewer and editor D. J. Enright (1920–2002) spent a good deal of his working life abroad, and might well have been overlooked in post-war Britain as a ‘New Poetry’ took hold. In fact (and most improbably), he found himself included in Alvarez’s book of that title – improbable, since it was he who, while living in Japan, had produced the first anthology of those apparently ‘genteel’ and ‘middlebrow’ poets of ‘the Movement’. As Blake Morrison pointed out in his Guardian obituary (Enright died on New Year’s Eve, 2002), he ‘had been almost the only English critic to notice Larkin’s privately printed collection XX Poems, and to praise it resoundingly’. Larkin himself, of course, had little sympathy for someone who chose to live with foreigners (he wrote to Anthony Thwaite in Libya: ‘don’t enjoy it too much – one Dennis Enright in the family is quite enough’). But it was the expatriate life in Egypt and Asia that became his primary subject matter; he was still writing about this in the 1990s. In the 50s and 60s poems such as ‘University Examinations in Egypt’ and ‘The Laughing Hyena, after Hokusai’ became quite well known. The apparently mild-mannered Enright (a fearless book reviewer, however, who had studied under Leavis and wrote for Scrutiny) was not one to retreat in the face of conflict or injustice, but nor would he resort to mindless anti-colonialism during the years of imperial collapse. There have not been many poets reflecting with any grain of sympathy on ...

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