Tobias Jones

One of the Best Places to Think About Things

Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland

By

Faber & Faber 176pp £7.99 order from our bookshop

Comparing themselves so explicitly with MacNeice and Auden is, for Armitage and Maxwell, a double-edged sword; it could, of course, catapult them into the canon of great twentieth-century poets, but on the evidence here it is more likely simply to point up their comparative shortcomings.

When Auden and MacNeice set out for Iceland sixty years ago, they wrote journals, jottings, eclogues and letters, reflections ‘on one’s past and one’s culture from the outside’. As Spain fought its civil war, and Europe slid into another, the two achieved an artistic and intellectual distance from all the political convulsions, while still seeming somehow engaged (MacNeice’s ‘Down in Europe Seville fell, / Nations germinating hell…’ is typical). The result was Letters from Iceland.

Sign Up to our newsletter

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

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,