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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vortex in the cortex, or, Brush up your Frobenius, 13 May 2012
Simon Barrett "Il penseroso" (london, england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays (Nonpareil Book, 78) (Paperback)
Frobenius? Genius!

What had I got against this guy? Jack-of-all-trades, posh-sounding name especially for a yank, kneejerk modernist (Olson, Zukovsky, purLEEZE - so dated!), classicist by training who also has German, in a word pretentious - and that awful word 'geography' hardly set the spirit soaring; cartography would have pushed the right button.. Well, I was wrong; he's just maddeningly bright (and modest with it), 'difficult' without being a poseur and eclectic as all get out. His riff on Persephone is, I suppose, dazzling. He reads Doughty, to Davenport one of the 'two masters' of the later nineteenth century, those 'with the surest command of English', the other being Hopkins. ('[H]is Dawn in Britain is a poem I read often.' Nobody, but NOBODY reads Doughty.) And he's a modernist who fulminates against modernity, from the safe haven of 1981; for this alone he gets my sympathy. He saw it coming, believe me. 'The Late Pleistocene ate the Neocene' is one of his. 'What we call the twentieth century ended in 1915' he provocatively suggests. This is aimed squarely at that mythical beast the general reader. This means YOU. It is only occasionally infuriating (I docked a star, then reawarded it) and it's on balance in its favour that it comes gloriously devoid of index, bibliography or notes, which in those far-off pre-internet days would have necessitated recourse to, or the owning of, a library. If you can remember those

GD chose to live out his career in the sticks of Kentucky. He never learnt to drive. He wrote Oxford's first thesis on James Joyce (that dates him). He was, how else to put it, civilised. He claimed to live off Campbell's soup and Snickers bars. I really only took issue with him once, on the fate of the brontosaurus. In view of man's behaviour I would modify Terence's Nothing human is alien to me to No living thing is alien to me. That includes things that prey on me; see Gwyneth Lewis's A Hospital Odyssey. Being eaten? Mais nous sommes faits pour ca!
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The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays (Nonpareil Book, 78)
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