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The Art of Fiction

John Hollander, 1 October 1987

... The poet who pretends to read John Austin’s essay on ‘Pretending’ Need never grasp its condescending Point that pretending can’t succeed. Thus the weak-minded, headstrong youth Private returns to his unending Wording of fables, still pretending Not to pretend to tell the truth ...

Inviting a friend to lunch

John Hollander, 19 February 1987

... Martial and Jonson frame my text, A pleasant catalogue of what Delights for you are to be got At lunch with me on Monday next: An avocado full of pink Prawns we will wash in a tide cleaner Than ocean – pale Gewürztraminer Chilled just to make the palate wink; A green world walled within a bowl, Unfallen leaves that crown their plate With which sweetly to celebrate Crispness of body, oil of soul; Then a pure red will come to seem Sublimer than that salad love – Ripe strawberries, like pictures of Kisses, quite innocent of cream ...

The Week’s Events

John Hollander, 13 September 1990

... She said, affably, ‘Calm next Mahnday,’ Indicating that his pants would be ready by then, But nonetheless unwittingly invoking a mysterious occasion, Which, on ultimate reflection, appeared to be a sort Of centennial celebration for the author of Joseph and His Brothers And other works, even as it eventually turned out not to be. ‘Let’s have lunch on Tuesday,’ suggested Dubble-Barrell (he Pronounced it ‘Jewsday’, as if there had been inserted into the medieval calendar Another liturgical day, devoted to violent expressions of rage Against an unfortunate race, ungracious In its refusals of redemption, tiresome in its endless Ability to elicit persecution from the peoples of the West and elsewhere ...

Slants

Alastair Fowler, 9 November 1989

Melodious Guile: Fictive Pattern in Poetic Language 
by John Hollander.
Yale, 262 pp., £20, January 1989, 0 300 04293 0
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Second World and Green World: Studies in Renaissance Fiction-Making 
by Harry Berger.
California, 519 pp., $54, November 1988, 0 520 05826 7
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... a sense of what poems are really up to, as distinct from what critics have tried to make them. John Hollander, himself a fine poet, is such a generalist; and Melodious Guile, to my mind the best of his critical books, takes its place – along with Donald Davie’s Articulate Energy and Winifred Nowottny’s The Language Poets Use – among the ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... book of first poems in many years’, Richard Howard proclaimed in 1981. James Merrill, John Hollander and John Ashbery spoke in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for ...

Transcendental Criticism

David Trotter, 3 March 1988

The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.95, March 1988, 0 571 15013 6
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... rather who, he has modified: among poets, Whitman, Frost and Stevens; among critics and theorists, John Hollander, Harold Bloom, Stanley Cavell, George Kateb, Richard Rorty and Sacvan Bercovitch. Strong claims are made for the validity of the Emersonian position – it represents ‘what literature is most often trying to tell us about itself and how it ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street, 3 February 1983

... drink(s) in exchange for a mint copy of Giles Goatboy, or of swopping some multi-volume reissue of John Cowper Powys for a night out on the town. The Chancery Lane idea is (or used to be) that you can sell off review copies for half their published price. The books had to be in really good condition (hence the loving care with which one would sometimes see a ...

Must poets write?

Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language, 10 May 2012

Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 232 pp., £11.50, April 2012, 978 0 226 66061 5
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Columbia, 272 pp., £15.95, September 2011, 978 0 231 14991 4
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Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Northwestern, 593 pp., £40.50, December 2010, 978 0 8101 2711 1
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Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: [Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
Wesleyan, 224 pp., £20.50, May 2010, 978 0 8195 6929 5
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... tracing a line from Rimbaud through Futurism to Gertrude Stein, Wittgenstein, Frank O’Hara, John Cage and beyond – who have advanced what she sees as modernist goals: above all, the up-to-date, sceptical investigation of the materials and ideas from which a work of art gets made. Though much of Perloff’s writing concerns the great dead, she became ...

Short is sweet

Christopher Ricks, 3 February 1983

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs 
edited by J.A. Simpson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 19 866131 2
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A World of Proverbs 
by Patricia Houghton.
Blandford, 152 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 0 7137 1114 0
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... doubleness ministers to social vigilance, not to solitary complacency. In The Figure of Echo, John Hollander has recently unfolded a contrariety in Chapter 26 of the Book of Proverbs: Answer not a tool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Each of these ...

Perfectly dressed

Peter Campbell, 7 November 1991

Moving Pictures 
by Anne Hollander.
Harvard, 512 pp., £15, April 1991, 0 674 58828 2
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... attribution, no proof of forgery, can force the removal or inclusion of a particular image. Anne Hollander’s Moving Pictures is a rarity: a convincing new way of sorting post-1500 European and American paintings – into the cinematic and the non-cinematic. In explaining how the set of images she identifies as cinematic relate to our experience of ...

Unembraceable

Peter Wollen, 19 October 1995

Sex and Suits 
by Anne Hollander.
Knopf, 212 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 43096 2
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... in traditional obscurity. The story of modern male fashion – and that is the core of Anne Hollander’s provocative book – begins, emblematically, with Beau Brummell, who wore the clothes rather than made them. His tailors were Schweitzer and Davidson in Cork Street, Meyer in Conduit Street and then Weston in Old Bond Street, ur-tailors who, through ...

Return to the Totem

Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... find it hard to do so – for instance, when Falstaff disappears, or rather turns into Sir John Oldcastle, since it is known that in early performances (though not in any printed form of the plays) that is what he was called. Oldcastle’s descendants protested, and the consequence was the presumably unique disclaimer in the Epilogue to 2 Henry IV. The ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... was guaranteed to increase its underground following. It was Ginsberg’s old Columbia colleagues, John Hollander, Norman Podhoretz and Louis Simpson, all cutting their teeth in the New York literary scene under the approving auspices of Lionel and Diana Trilling, who led the charge against the Beats. ‘It is only fair to Allen Ginsberg to remark on the ...

Beyond the Human

Jamie McKendrick: Dante’s Paradiso, 26 March 2009

Paradiso 
by Dante, translated by Robin Kirkpatrick.
Penguin, 480 pp., £12.99, October 2007, 978 0 14 044897 9
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Paradiso 
by Dante, translated by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander.
Anchor, 915 pp., $19.95, September 2008, 978 1 4000 3115 3
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... translations, one by Robin Kirkpatrick, the other by the husband and wife team of Robert and Jean Hollander, should be welcomed. Each edition is the final volume of a long labour, and each helps the reader see this last cantica in the context of the previous two. With Virgil as his guide, Dante has already spiralled down through hell, seen what goes ...

Kermode and Theory

Hayden White, 11 October 1990

An Appetite for Poetry: Essays in Literary Interpretation 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 242 pp., £15, November 1989, 0 00 215388 2
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... basics of literary criticism, and he aligns himself with similarly inclined critics (Hugh Kenner, John Hollander, Richard Poirier, Lionel Trilling, and above all Empson) who use theory, when they use it at all, for the most part to clear the ground for attentive reading. The phrase which serves as the title of the collection is taken from Paul ...

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