108. (William Wordsworth)

  Wordsworth is one of the revolutionaries of English literary history, and not just because, as critics since Coleridge have observed, his poetry bristles with the unresolved metaphysical tensions between the accidental and the necessary, the unity of being and the fragmentations of memory and feeling, or the fissures between the history of the imagination and the imagination of history; he is a revolutionary because … Continue reading 108. (William Wordsworth)

42. (John Berryman)

For whom, among those who turn and return to literature, is the memory of adolescent boredom not fresh? Probably it is not a coincidence that many find poetry worth reading, seeking out, for the first time is adolescence, when that sense of monotony and flatness is richest and most sweltering; those who do not find much interest in poetry might be the ones who find … Continue reading 42. (John Berryman)

20. (Marcel Proust)

Still reading, slowly, the second volume of Recherche. I’ve leapt from the Moncrieff/Kilmartin/Enright to the new James Grieve translation without wincing. Reading today, I came to a passage that seemed at first to go against what I’d written earlier, in post 14. (John Ruskin), about Proust and the hearts of others. There, I’d quoted the narrator blissful in the thought of absorption into his grandmother’s heart, … Continue reading 20. (Marcel Proust)

15. (Robert Browning)

Tennyson, haunted by the memory of Arthur Hallam, must look down from atop that long staircase to the stars (the one he describes in In Memoriam) with brooding pleasure at those who remain haunted by Hallam today—for such still exist, the eccentric brood of those who have devoted time and thought to Victorian poetry, and in so doing have had to encounter, and re-encounter, sometimes unrecognizable … Continue reading 15. (Robert Browning)

13. (Robert Browning)

In “The Bishop Orders His Tomb,” it is difficult to believe that the Bishop’s children are listening attentively to all that he says, especially as he launches onto flights of vain visionary greed. At times, the Bishop is his own audience; or at least it is plausible that he is—and the plausibility that he might be speaking to himself only, an expression of his Vanity, … Continue reading 13. (Robert Browning)

12. (Robert Browning)

Something happens to attention in works of literature during the early stages of the Victorian era—I had wanted to say that it becomes not only the means but the object of literary scrutiny, but this is not quite right because it is not taken as an explicit object, as something discussed or held up to discursive examination by many authors a great deal of the … Continue reading 12. (Robert Browning)