By Ian Hamilton
Ian Hamilton's final booklet, released posthumously in 2002, is a in general marvelous revisiting of the idea that of Samuel Johnson's vintage Lives of the English Poets, in which Hamilton considers forty five deceased poets of the 20 th century, providing his own estimation of what claims they are going to have on posterity and 'against oblivion.' Examples of every poet's verse accompany Hamilton's textual content, making the e-book either a provocative primer and one of those severe anthology.
'The affective strength of this book... lies in its understatement and its knowing of what we'd care approximately. From a century of Manifestoes and events, Hamilton works as a corrective for the neighborhood and particular... his concept of poetry, of what made greatness in poetry, emerges intact from each one measured sentence. His feedback regularly pointed you in the direction of all that he may perhaps locate that used to be precise in a section of writing.' - Tim Adams, Observer
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Extra resources for Against Oblivion: Some Lives of the Twentieth-century Poets
44 Yet the fact that it was composed by Englishmen at odds with the religious and literary standards prevailing in the country of their birth makes it an essential corrective to standard accounts of post-Reformation English drama. Startlingly accentuating silences and absences within the mainstream, it counters any notion that late-sixteenth and seventeenth-century Englishmen were uninterested in religious theatre. 45 Passing from them to Shakespeare’s theatre reveals the sheer oddness of the English mainstream dramatic experience: plays making little or no attempt to stage the sacred, and with little overt religious reference, produced within an age passionately engaged with religion and a literary culture otherwise saturated by religion.
John Bridges accused papists of sowing discord while boasting of unity: ‘Thus these fellowes jarre alwayes amonge them selves, and in all their doctrines, fal into . . points of discorde, . . 69 But Tudor England was a time when many changed religious shape more than once, and even a more settled orthodoxy could have a protean quality. 71 Others would have noted the advantages of mental ﬂexibility, and we are surely to include Shakespeare among these. Shakespeare was interested in Proteus from the beginning of his career.
JULIA: I would always have one play but one thing. 64–69)74 To Julia, the aesthetic sophistication of the music is nothing more than a painful reminder of Proteus’s falsity. ’ is checked on ethical grounds; the betrayed Julia takes no pleasure in the music, and sympathizing with her has the effect of moving the discussion onto a more abstract plane. Thanks to the ambiguity of the word ‘one’, the remark, ‘I would always have one play but one thing’, is interpretable on several levels. With Proteus as referent, Julia’s remark is a personal one, with poignantly bawdy overtones; but it can also be read as a general injunction to constancy, one which acknowledges that faithfulness can and should work against the enjoyment of variety.