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Certainties

Donald Davie, 20 May 1982

In Defence of the Imagination 
by Helen Gardner.
Oxford, 197 pp., £12.50, February 1982, 0 19 812639 5
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... forms, and in those getting good results in their A-level examinations, would continue.’ But for Helen Gardner, who served at that time on the Robbins Committee on Higher Education, those confident extrapolators of trends figure cosily enough as ‘our statisticians’; and she is not assailed by any suspicion that she, as representing the literary ...

Donne’s Reputation

Sarah Wintle, 20 November 1980

English Renaissance Studies 
edited by John Carey.
Oxford, 320 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 19 812093 1
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... In his preface to this celebratory volume of essays presented to Dame Helen Gardner on her 70th birthday, John Carey apologises for the fact that the topics discussed are restricted to 16th and 17th-century English literature. Dame Helen’s latest book, after all, was The Composition of ‘The Four Quartets ...

Really fantastic

A.D. Nuttall, 18 November 1982

A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in Narrative and Structure, especially of the Fantastic 
by Christine Brooke-Rose.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £25, October 1981, 0 521 22561 2
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... Brooke-Rose had stayed in Oxford, instead of migrating to France, she might have been rather like Helen Gardner. Her new book is written with a crispness and a briskness which at once evokes a certain atmosphere: a highly intelligent unresponsiveness to theory, a fear of subjectivity (she even recalls, with obvious relish, her Oxford tutor’s phrase for ...

Errata

Christopher Ricks, 2 December 1982

T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage 
edited by Michael Grant.
Routledge, 408 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 7100 9226 1
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... from Four Quartets have been checked against the first English edition (1944) as given by Helen Gardner; all other citations have been checked against CPP [The Complete Poems and Plays of T. S. Eliot, 1969].’ This is pointlessly inconsistent, since it means that some of the texts have been corrected to the text they first had in volume form ...

Cold Feet

Frank Kermode, 22 July 1993

Essays on Renaissance Literature. Vol. I: Donne and the New Philosophy 
by William Empson, edited by John Haffenden.
Cambridge, 296 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 521 44043 2
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William Empson: The Critical Achievement 
edited by Chistopher Norris and Nigel Mapp.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 521 35386 6
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... of the poems I had better give a sample or two, explaining first that Empson, who hated what Helen Gardner made of the texts, and often attacked her with asperity and justice, also wanted readings that suited his view of the matter best, just as he rightly says she did. The quarrel extends to many poems, but I must select, and the best place to ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy, 4 March 1999

Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... he became friends with Geoffrey Keynes. In Oxford, and although he came down with a mere Second, Helen Gardner urged him to do a B.Litt. and write a dissertation on Yeats’s manuscripts. Stallworthy had no interest in writing a dissertation; he stayed on for a fourth year in Oxford only to try for a Blue. (My jealousy is out of control.) ...

Deeper Shallows

Stefan Collini: C.S. Lewis, 20 June 2013

C.S. Lewis: A Life 
by Alister McGrath.
Hodder, 431 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 4447 4552 8
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... to whom they offered the chair during Lewis’s initial dithering, was that devout Anglican Helen Gardner.) As in the wider culture, such literary Christianity fell sharply out of fashion in the 1960s and 1970s, and Lewis’s reputation dipped correspondingly; though perhaps his children’s books maintained their standing. Once again, his ...

Kermode’s Changing Times

P.N. Furbank, 7 March 1991

The Uses of Error 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 432 pp., £18, February 1991, 9780002154659
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... rejoinder (first published nine years ago in the periodical Raritan) to a famous attack on him by Helen Gardner. It was a bizarre episode. Gardner, invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures for 1979-80, described in them how for ten years she had been preoccupied with professorial duties and close textual ...

Intelligent Theory

Frank Kermode, 7 October 1982

Figures of Literary Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Blackwell, 303 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 631 13089 6
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Theories of the Symbol 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Catherine Porter.
Blackwell, 302 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 631 10511 5
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The Breaking of the Vessels 
by Harold Bloom.
Chicago, 107 pp., £7, April 1982, 0 226 06043 8
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The Institution of Criticism 
by Peter Hohendahl.
Cornell, 287 pp., £14.74, June 1982, 0 8014 1325 7
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Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction 
by Ann Banfield.
Routledge, 340 pp., £15.95, June 1982, 0 7100 0905 4
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... of criticism’ may sound odd or suspicious to English critics: not long ago Dame Helen Gardner took issue with me for calling the Church an institution, and it is unlikely that anybody who thinks like her will find a use for Hohendahl’s term. There are ways of doing criticism which make all speculation about its method, or its ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... and Agates. Miller’s suspicion was strengthened by reading some remarks made by Dame Helen Gardner, ‘one of Eliot’s most distinguished sponsors’. She had remembered some good stage performances she had seen before 1960 – with ‘extremely beautiful costumes by a firm called Motley’ – but she claimed she could hardly remember the ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... and the author was encouraged by its success to complete a Shakespearean trilogy. Since, as Helen Gardner says, ‘the facts that are clearly established’ about Shakespeare’s life ‘could be written by a neat writer on two sides of a postcard’ (LRB, Vol. 6, No 6), this represents a considerable feat of expansion – but no other kind of ...

Maybe he made it up

Terry Eagleton: Faking It, 6 June 2002

The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature 
by Nick Groom.
Picador, 351 pp., £20, April 2002, 9780330374323
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... Daemon’, ‘Bastard’ and so on – don’t bring to mind the way Dame Helen Gardner organised her materials. (Speaking of organising one’s materials, the volume informs us no less than three times that in the 18th century a suicide’s corpse was usually buried naked at a crossroads impaled on a stake.) A dash of Gothic ...

Art of Embarrassment

A.D. Nuttall, 18 August 1994

Essays, Mainly Shakespearean 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 386 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 40444 4
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English Comedy 
edited by Michael Cordner, Peter Holland and John Kerrigan.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 521 41917 4
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... would have written a more guarded sentence. A similar abrupt confidence (which reminds me of Dame Helen Gardner) marks her observation that Miranda’s strangely violent language to Caliban in The Tempest has nothing to do with sexual repression on the island but is, in fact, detached from the character of Miranda, mere impersonal poetic affirmation of ...

‘Disgusting’

Frank Kermode: Remembering William Empson, 16 November 2006

William Empson. Vol. II: Against the Christians 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 797 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 19 927660 9
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... detailed; disagreeing about the correct reading of a particular line in Elegy XIX, Empson took on Helen Gardner and John Carey (and me, though I was of neither party) with ferocity. Haffenden gives a good account of this once celebrated row, not without a pardonable bias in favour of the man to whose life and work he has devoted more than twenty ...

Touching and Being Touched

John Kerrigan: Valentine Cunningham, 19 September 2002

Reading after Theory 
by Valentine Cunningham.
Blackwell, 194 pp., £45, December 2001, 0 631 22167 0
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... to join ‘the chorus of mere whingers against Theory, all those mouthy conservatives from (say) Helen Gardner . . . to Roger Shattuck . . . with their romps up and down the glooming critical slopes of the Blooms, Allan and Harold’ – this is a fair sample, unfortunately, of his idea of lively prose. He accepts that post-structuralism, new ...

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