An ABC of Reviewing

in Critical Survey

A is for Matthew ARNOLD, bringer of sweetness and light, upholder of the best that has been thought and said. (Notions much derided of late. All the more reason to defend them.) A poet-polemicist Oxford dandy turned Schools Inspector who didn’t just emit steam but suited action to word out in the big wide world. My favourite Victorian prophet, along with Mill, better company than Ruskin and bellicose Carlyle. Also for AL ALVAREZ, top gun of the sixties, who tried to shoot down English gentility. Good nose for a certain kind of poem, bad reasons for promoting it. Also for ACADEMIC. Pause. ‘Nuff said.

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