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Index: Books & Publishing

The ‘Fortnightly’—a retrospect.

B.W. Matz: ‘To turn over that file is to find an array of articles by Mr. Herbert Spencer, mostly, as might be supposed, on the subject of his great system of philosophy. Again, we have the Pre-Raphaelites, of Rossetti and Burne-Jones and Bell Scott, as well as of Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Meredith. Nonconformity was given its full voice, but, indeed, taking the mere test of names, to what phase of work or thought did Mr. Morley not give the opportunity of print? Newman, Manning, Mazzini, Freeman, Walter Pater, William Morris, Henry Morley, Max Müller, Symonds, Congreve—that is the kind of contributors’ gallery which opens out.’

The Robots of Amazon.

Ian Gardner: ‘In a democratic society, laws determine how freedom of speech and expression are to be exercised, not the private whims of powerful businesses. Amazon has quickly grown to be an important retailer relied on by hundreds of thousands of customers and the decision to censor books is both a huge disappointment and a real concern.’

Tarn’s ‘Hölderliniae’. 

Anthony Rudolf: ‘The intensity and power, the imbrication and musicality, the driving rhythm and complex syntax, in short the poet’s brain work and heart work, generate a singular and beautiful book.’

The reascent of the Decline.

James Gallant: ‘A number of the signs of societal collapse Spengler described are common experience for us: evisceration of rural areas and concentrations of atomized populations in great cities, gross economic disparities among classes, Caesar-like politicians with mass followings, propaganda disguised as political discourse, political parties serving as stooges for money interests, international military and political blundering, declining birth rates (associated by Spengler with feminism), effete intellectualism, bogus revivals of primitive religiosity, and decadent entertainment.’

‘Ghost’ and six more new poems.

By JOHANNA HIGGINS. . 1.Ghost. IT’S THE BREATHING out that kills The drawing in throughout The love that spills. The reddened love That Turns and tears At flesh, at Some adhesion, Where the blood meets Ghost and reason. Untitled: 2. AS DUST LIES, So The thrill of fleshful things Has moved. Lost In the desire […]

Adorno and the ‘Philosophy of Modern Music’.

Tronn Overend: ‘Adorno selects the thesis and the antithesis of Stravinsky and Schoenberg as his case studies. In Kantian terms, they are in permanent opposition, never reconciliation. In other words, there can be no synthesis, because, as Schoenberg had remarked, ‘the middle road is the only one which does not lead to Rome.”‘

Poetry in paragraphs.

Simon Collings: ‘”The Prose Poem Now” takes us from the present back to 2000, “The Postmodern Prose Poem” covers the second half of the twentieth century, and “The Modern Prose Poem” covers the century from the 1940s back to 1842.’

Byatt’s Odd Angel.

A Fortnightly Review. On The Conjugial Angel By A S Byatt The Swedenborg Society  2020  | 64pp  | £7.21 $13.94 By MICHAEL BLACKBURN. WHO THINKS OF Swedenborg these days, who even knows his name let alone his writings, apart from Blake scholars and the devotees of occultism – and, of course, the Swedenborg Society? Not […]

Candid Camera.

Christopher Landrum: ‘“Greater love,” says the Gospel of John, “hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I don’t know if Chris Arnade crossed the threshold into feeling love for his subjects (though he did rescue the body of a dead back row acquaintance from the anonymity of a pauper’s grave). But no reader of ‘Dignity’ can deny that its author did lay down his career and dared to listen to back row individuals and let them speak for themselves.’

Why is the sea salt?

Nigel Wheale: ‘Ian Crockatt has translated all thirty-eight of Rognvaldr’s surviving verses, which were preserved in the (textually complex) Orkneyinga saga. Rognvaldr may again have been profoundly innovative here, as one of the earliest Norse authors to have his vernacular work preserved in written form, rather than recited from generation to generation…

Mob-think.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The liberal society pictured here is in truth a fractured society, and we know that homogeneity is more desirable because more stable. The relationship between the sovereign individual and society is one of constant tension and conflict. Unfortunately the ochlocracy tends to prevail.’

Who will read short stories?

By DAVID McVEY. IN THE SPRING 2018 issue of The Author, Michael Bhaskar’s article ‘Not Going Gently’ offered a fascinating insight into the precarious survival of literary fiction and made a powerful case for its cultural importance. Necessarily, he addressed the long form, the novel, but his article prompted me to prod the physique of […]

May’s daze.

By MICHAEL BLACKBURN. IF YOU HAD a thesaurus the size of the Oxford English Dictionary devoted entirely to synonyms for lying, incompetence and bad faith you would still not exhaust the ways of describing Theresa May. When she assumed the premiership just after the EU referendum in 2016 she had only one job to fulfil, […]

Gospel of honour.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Sommers asks important questions about the limits of honor in terms of quantity (or what he calls “escalation”) as well as quality (“moral content”) within an honor group. These limits are needed to balance a “well contained honor framework.” Still, it often seems as if Sommers wants this framework to be all-encompassing, and therefore, too disproportionate for my rural sensibility. He writes how “honor’s emphasis on reputation is crucial for building a cohesive and responsible community.” But there are times when he doesn’t seem to realize that what benefits a single town may not be beneficial for an entire country. ‘

The New Versailles.

Anthony Howell: ‘All they are looking for is chic literature
Suited to an Ormolu bookshelf in the hameau de la Reine:
A dalliance in delightful Kentish Town; the owner
In her Busta shorts, the builder in from Dalston.’