To Swell a Progress

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Poetry is a violently opinionated business. The closest I have come to a civil war was – quite seriously – a conference on versification. Poetry lovers, however, tend to be polite people who express their feelings in convoluted ways. Hence, perhaps, their love of poetry, but also the incoherent quality of much poetry criticism.

Thoroughly Modern Milieu

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘The danger is in the neatness of identifications,’ warned the 23-year-old Samuel Beckett in his first published sentence, opening a 1929 collection of essays bearing the catchy title Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress. The work in question being Finnegans Wake, a volume of arid virtuosity described by Clive James […]

The Inheritance of Isabel Archer

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

I’ve despaired for the art of criticism in the past few decades, losing hope at times. Perhaps the advent of theory is to blame, with its formulaic thinking and tendencies toward opacity and stale jargon. In any case, it seems difficult for critics to get a purchase on actual texts in ways that don’t dampen […]

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RLF - March