on 28 June 2001
This volume bristles with insights and erudition. Raine is excellent at dismantling the work of overrated writers (Elias Canetti, for instance) and a fine apologist for neglected figures like John Betjeman. Excellent on anything poetic, and pretty damned good right across the board. His ability to weigh the faults and virtues of a line of verse is probably without equal in contemporary criticism. He's also very funny. And I say this not from the lofty vantage point of cronyism, but without ever having come across the man.