In Defence of Parody by D J Taylor

D J Taylor

In Defence of Parody

 

If Sir John Squire (1884–1958) is remembered at all these days, it is for his role as an anti-modernist scourge in the literary gang warfare of the 1920s, his editorship of the arch-conservative London Mercury and his unforgivable remark that the printing of The Waste Land was ‘scarcely worthy of the Hogarth Press’. But there was a younger, livelier Squire, who operated as a slashing reviewer and parodist – mostly in the pages of the fledgling New Statesman – and it was in search of his less hidebound former self that, last summer in a second-hand bookshop in Inverness, I laid out £5 on a copy of Tricks of the Trade (1917), a ‘final essay’, as Squire puts it in the dedication to his friend Robert Lynd, ‘in a not wholly admirable art’.

For anyone raised on legends of Squire the anaemic Georgian, not to mention Squire the procrastinating literary drunk (he once excused himself from failing to deliver a commission on the grounds that the manuscript had blown out of the taxi window), Tricks of the Trade is lightning from a clear

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Incomparible Monsignor

Kafka Drawings

Follow Literary Review on Twitter