The Redress of Poetry

Seamus Heaney 1939 – 2013 - Oxford Lectures (1995) A capricious and arbitrary analysis of the first of this series of lectures “Heaney discusses and celebrates poetry’s special ability to redress balance and to function as a counter-weight to hostile and oppressive forces in the world” (Book Blurb) The Redress of Poetry sets out, in … Continue reading The Redress of Poetry

The Canterbury Tales: Usborne

Quite the most readable version of the 'Tales I've ever come across, very decidedly not excluding 'Master Chaucer's' own from the list. As such, it makes a very welcome addition to the book-friends of this eternal don't-quite-wanna-be of English literature, who must always peer suspiciously at the original, the cursor winking slyly from the Google … Continue reading The Canterbury Tales: Usborne

The Shadow Upon The Iron Giant

Should something a poet or a writer could have said or done or have been influence your reading of his or her works, especially when the source of all such information is the garbled testimony of people now dead? People you never actually knew, with their own lives and lies? What difference is there between … Continue reading The Shadow Upon The Iron Giant

The Hour of Sunlight

I like this book, because it is one of the few versions of a festering international sore which has only a handful of rather believable angels, whose demons are rather evenly divided, and most of whose characters have the air and manner of living people. And I like the telling of it, half-story, half-biography. If … Continue reading The Hour of Sunlight

G. B. Malleson upon 1857

This gentleman was an officer of the British Raj, writing at its zenith. Presumably, when he wrote in reply to his rhetorical question about British victory in the War of Independence: “How did they accomplish the impossible?”, he did most earnestly mean his reply: “It was a question of race”, which seems as incredible and … Continue reading G. B. Malleson upon 1857

New Lamps for Old

If Marcus Tullius Cicero had known that he was to become ‘Tully’ in one of the most prestigious works of literary criticism ever, would he have laughed? Or would he have waxed apoplectic at this most noble Apologie? For my part, I shall never manage to think of Mr Chips's 'Kikero' now, without remembering the … Continue reading New Lamps for Old

Khuda Ki Basti

Of my world and yet most emphatically not of my world, this is the first Urdu novel I've read as a novel - without awkwardness, without the consciousness of reading an 'Urdu' book especially, with a grim and futile determination to 'improve my level of Urdu'. No, this book I read in a day and … Continue reading Khuda Ki Basti

The Grumpy Git’s Guide to Mastering English Literature

Mr. Chaucer, Geoff is a medieval literary scamp of the finest order, with a wit as ready as it is irreverent. He would fit ‘write’ into a group of Lahori club cricketers. This ‘verray parfit, gentil knight’ is a troll personality whose Canterbury Tales are a thoroughly ‘improper and indelicate’ mixture of ‘heyer’ things with … Continue reading The Grumpy Git’s Guide to Mastering English Literature

A Survival Guide for Young Writers

Thus, O my best beloved, have the sages spoken of the Writer’s life: Revelling, glorying in the power bestowed upon him by the Most Gracious; despairing ever of unchaining it from the puerile censure of an uncomprehending world, the Writer is shaken like a leaf in the winds of December, clinging withered and frosted to … Continue reading A Survival Guide for Young Writers