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'He Was Low But Was He Honest?'

On Roy Campbell's Fascist Poetry

John E. Coombes

The immediate impression is of a figure outrageously Quixotic, albeit bereft of the elaborate structure of chivalric belief which sustained that earlier hero; of a figure of catholic fideistic absurdity which approaches the ‘endearing’. Later, post-war photos of Campbell show a figure bearing an uncanny resemblance to W.C. Fields though – it has to be said – without the charm. The Campbell of the anecdote – simultaneously, as we are told, author of the longest fascist poem in English (apart from Ezra Pound’s) – would moreover seem to have stepped out of one of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. Their author had, it will be remembered, moved, under the influence of his friend Belloc, from a position of amiable if ineffectual liberalism to increasingly pronounced anti-Semitism. Yet the play of paradox in the earlier Father Brown stories shows little of this: its function is in general to demonstrate the resolvability of paradox through the operations of grace and the intimations of the enquiring subject, a kind of functional accommodation of deism and liberal individualism.

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Jennifer Birkett, David Bradshaw, John E. Coombes, Andy Croft, Jane de Gay, Rainer Emig, John Fordham, Chris Hopkins, David Margolies, Rick Rylance, Judy Simons, Gay Wachman, Patrick Williams, Mary Joannou and John Lucas

Notes on contributors