This is an interesting, infuriating, brilliant, maddening book. In short, it is a work by Germaine Greer, who prefers (or so one sometimes thinks) anything to stagnation. The title is taken from Pope, whose Virgilian Sibyl in the Dunciad is the modern female British poet as satire liked to see her. Possessed by the muse or Apollo though they claim to be, women as poets are untidy, slovenly, careless of housekeeping. They are, like Virgil’s harpies, truly dirty beings. (Try saying ‘slip-shod sibyl’ and you will find that tongue-twisting tempts other words to come through.) The shit-soiled sibyl, the woman poet, is a hackney, a prostitute. If she receives you in her boudoir, you find she is a strumpet, affected, grimly bedizened perhaps, but poverty-stricken. She is always in a state of undress, of unattractive undress, slapping loose about the house in her slippers, her rhyme and metre shuffling loosely along.