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Index: Excerpts & Passages

Notes taken from an Alpine landscape.

Tom Lowenstein: ‘This is an extract from a sequence of Notebooks and Fantasias in the voice of a late eighteenth-century poet who had just completed the composition of Kubla Khan. Although the identity of S.T. Coleridge obviously is implied, the work makes no attempt at biography or literary criticism. In the following passages, pseudo-Coleridge, either in person or in imagination, is walking in the Swiss mountains. The book contains many anachronisms.’

W. H. Davies: the tramp poet’s ‘gift of laziness’.

M. D. Armstrong: ‘One of the gifts which he seems to have acquired from his life as a tramp, or possibly the gift which made him a tramp, is the gift of laziness. We say, deliberately, gift, because the power of being profitably, creatively lazy is a great gift. Not stagnation, which is the deadliest of all sins, but recreative laziness.’

The Case of Edmund Rack.

Tom Lowenstein: ‘Buried in [John Collinson’s] Preface, Rack’s presence counts for nothing. He’s the ghost in the corpus. Once he has done service, this Norfolk weaver’s son (who’d made his living as a dyer), is penned up in a sentence. The book’s proclaimed author is a Church Patrician. While Rack exits, once he’d briefly entered, like a footman, in a single movement.’

Catching up with John Buchan.

Roger Kimball: The campaign against genuine individuality is much further advanced today than it was in 1940 when Buchan wrote. We seem further than ever from the “manly humility” he prescribed. Which is one reason that rereading John Buchan is such a tonic exercise. His adventures are riches that help remind us of our poverty. If, as Montaigne wrote, admonition is the highest office of friendship, that counsel is a precious bounty.

Of the ‘pathetic fallacy’.

By John Ruskin. NOW, THEREFORE, PUTTING these tiresome and absurd words1 quite out of our way, we may go on at our ease to examine the point in question,–namely, the difference between the ordinary, proper, and true appearances of things to us; and the extraordinary, or false appearances, when we are under the influence of […]

Dulce et Decorum Est.

Owen: In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

• Pouring cold water on media hysteria.

Helen Hunt Jackson: Reflecting on it, having it thrust in one’s face at every book-counter, railway-stand, Sunday-school library, and parlor centre-table, it is hard not to wish for some supernatural authority to come sweeping through the wards, and prescribe sharp cold-water treatment all around to half drown all such writers and quite drown all their books!

Marcel Proust as heterosexual Christian moralizer.

Elliott Coleman: ‘I think it may be shown that Proust is more Christian than anything else. And further, it seems to me that in his unflagging and almost undeviating search for meaning, reality, and rightness of interpretation, his work becomes highly moral, judged by any system of affirmative morality: peculiarly so in the Western sense of the truth’s making us free, illumined, whole, and productive. For Proust the process was this: remembrance, contemporaneous realization, then art.’

Summer Serial 2011: ‘Golden-beak’.

The New York Times: ‘Golden-beak’ tells of a feather-headed American woman, Mrs. Yosinde [sic] Potwin, who has a Japanese boy as man-of-all-work. Temechici [sic] falls in love with this mistress. He is the last of the Shoguns, a Prince in disguise. Temechici has, with other heroic traits, a talent for the improvising of sandwiches. But he is of a jealous disposition. One night he enters Mrs. Potwin’s room…
– The New York Times.

· Oscar Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’ – full-length at last.

Deciding that the novel as it stood contained “a number of things which an innocent woman would make an exception to”, and assuring his employer Craige Lippincott that he would make the book “acceptable to the most fastidious taste”, Stoddart also removed references to Gray’s female lovers as his “mistresses”.

Meet Dean Moriarty, the ‘Natty Light-slugging hero of the Southwest’.

My first impression of Dean was of a young The Situation—ripped, funny as shit, with spiked hair—a Natty Light-slugging hero of the Southwest.

Daniel Bell, an eloquent defender of modernity, dies at 91.

Yet such a situation is unsettling, for in any society (other than a small one of peers) the loss of authority leads to a reliance on power, and power rules through the implicit threat and the explicit use of force.

Excerpt: (Eric) Ormsby on (Christopher) Ricks on (Bob) Dylan.

By ERIC ORMSBY [from Fine Incisions: Essays on Poetry and Place] – Whether writing on Tennyson, Eliot, Housman, Beckett, or many others, Christopher Ricks has always been a critic of exceptional learning and aplomb; that he has been generally given to a somewhat oblique, even eccentric angle of view — embarrassment in Keats, the subtleties […]

Inventing Asia, with Conrad, Greene, and a tourists’ Bible.

Kate Hoyland: ‘My points of reference for writing about Asia in The Icarus Diaries – a fictionalised Asia, so doubly suspect – were Conrad – the old colonialist – and Greene, the “objective” journalist who travelled to war zones for kicks.’

Cosmos, Life, and Liturgy.

Juliet du Boulay: To recognize the enduring quality of much that I describe is not, however, to ignore the fact that change has always been a part of village life, and indeed so many changes have happened since I was in Ambeli in the 1960s and 1970s that much of the way of life recounted here can no longer be found. Earlier changes begin with the village itself, which had been built around 1800 by families who escaped there from a lower village which had been devastated by the Turks. Before this some of the big families were said to have come in a boat from the north, perhaps Pelion. These upheavals, however, dramatic though they were, did not necessitate a deep change of values but simply a reinterpretation of ancient themes in the new situation.