255. (Geoffrey Hill)

Poetry as persuasive harmony; it rises from the conditions of its making, and justifies itself against the discord of that condition; a false poem, like any false work of art, cheats or lies by failing to acknowledge that discord or by celebrating its resolution prematurely. Such a thought is not a prerequisite for appreciating the late poetry of Geoffrey Hill; instead, it arises with an … Continue reading 255. (Geoffrey Hill)

254. (William Makepeace Thackeray)

Thackeray’s Vanity Fair doubles that charge: the novel is braced by a simultaneous awareness of Regency and Victorian foibles, of Regency and Victorian hypocrisy, and Regency and Victorian euphemism (I shorten early-mid Victorian to “Victorian” throughout; I refer to the Regency and also the rein of George IV as “Regency”). In that double-ness lies its singularity: a sense for the history of satirical judgment itself, … Continue reading 254. (William Makepeace Thackeray)

252. (Hart Crane)

It’s been more than fifteen years since I’ve taken a surprisingly beat-up copy of The Complete Poems of Hart Crane off the bookshelf and my memory is mostly of the feeling and of my Australian teacher’s skepticism at R.W.B. Lewis’ pronouncement on the back cover that “he ranks with Eliot as one of the two finest poets of the century; a cut above Stevens and … Continue reading 252. (Hart Crane)

251. (William Makepeace Thackeray)

Vanity Fair asks that we accept the affection that the novelist-narrator feels for the creatures of the Fair, animated as they are by his hand, as more than exemplars and object lessons. Thackeray’s novel is an argument that shallowness and hypocrisy do not preclude deep feeling and suffering; anyone can be a victim and it is not, on its own, a guarantee of moral status, … Continue reading 251. (William Makepeace Thackeray)

249. (Charles Dickens)

The similarity between Molière and Dickens illuminates what is essential to the power of each: the insight into self-deception that co-exists alongside deception, the fear of hypocrisy that, to serve ends and ideals quite apart from those of society, can insinuate itself within it, draw off its life, and threaten disorder. There is no comedic author in English so like Dickens as is Molière. But … Continue reading 249. (Charles Dickens)