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The Professor of Poetry Paperback – 13 Mar 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 1 edition (13 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444769987
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444769982
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

An astonishing and luminous novel . . . every line is newly felt and freshly experienced. The reader is kept guessing: is this an emotional farce and an intellectual tragedy, or is it the opposite? The novel's ironies are multiple and stinging . . . Grace McCleen is an author who, with only her second novel, is setting her own clever agenda. She is a finished artist, but performs on the page with all the aerial grace of someone who senses no limits to what she can do. (Hilary Mantel)

Moving and beautiful . . . this is a remarkable piece of work, empathetic, intelligent and genuinely poetic (Spectator)

Enchanting . . . An utterly fascinating piece for poetry-lovers, and also an extremely poignant read. (Book of the Month, Image)

A grand tragedy with an intimate focus . . . for those who readers sympathetic to Anne's regrets in Jane Austen's Persuasion, or who find richness in the academic wrangling of AS Byatt's literary sleuths and lovers in Possession, there is much here to adore. McCleen's manipulation of suspense is extraordinary - hope for Elizabeth's enlightenment lurks in the shadows of her insecurities and emotional blind spots, and exploration of these dark places renders the novel sinewy with tension . . . her Prufrock-like world is painted with bewitching vitality . . . the narrative sweeps with a sumptuous musicality. (Financial Times)

Her new novel catapults her into the literary big league . . . McCleen invests this ostensibly dry subject matter with enormous poignancy and eroticism (Mail on Sunday)

An intricate tapestry in which past and present mingle to mesmerising effect . . . what eloquence! There are sentences here of such agile cleverness, charged with wit and beauty and enchantment. (Observer)

It's McCleen's unflinching dedication to detail that will enchant readers. This novel has obviously been pored over, cherished and perfected . . . [her] graceful weaving through the present and past of her main character produces an intriguing - and original - story. (Stylist)

McCleen doesn't make Elizabeth easy to like and this is part of the professor's charm. She doesn't "do" summer, most definitely does not do love poetry, and would like to teach Virginia Woolf a thing or two about semicolons . . . an intricate tapestry in which past and present mingle to mesmerising effect . . . what eloquence! There are sentences here of such agile cleverness, charged with wit and beauty and enchantment. (Guardian)

Book Description

'Astonishing and luminous' - Hilary Mantel. The dazzling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Land of Decoration.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Sept. 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elizabeth Stone is a respected academic who has been told she is in remission from cancer. She decides to spend some time in the city where she attended university over thirty years ago consulting some T S Eliot papers and maybe visit her former tutor - Professor Edward Hunt - the professor of poetry. Elizabeth has decided to write about T S Eliot even though she has made her name writing about Milton and has another book half finished about his work.

Should she contact Professor Hunt? Or should she leave things alone and hope she bumps into him? Eventually she writes but doesn't receive the reply she had hoped and feared but she decides to stick to her plans anyway and consult the archive which she now has permission to do.

This is an incredibly beautiful book. The story is slight and it is all in the writing and the way the author makes Elizabeth's thoughts and life almost luminous. Elizabeth is very sensitive to sounds and when she goes out she wears ear plugs. Which could make her seem something of a hypochondriac but it doesn't because it is treated matter of factly by the author as just part of Elizabeth.

The descriptions of how poetry, music and daily life make Elizabeth feel and react are marvellously done and can be lingered over and savoured by the reader. The book describes episodes from her childhood and from her time at university and I thought it was particularly good on the way learning about a subject can set your mind alight and energise you. I found myself nodding in agreement when over how Elizabeth feels about reading and how she loses herself in a book.

This is a book to be lingered over and savoured and Grace McClean has to be one of the best authors writing today in my opinion. If you enjoy reading A S Byatt then you will probably enjoy reading this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Our heroine, Elizabeth Stone, is 52 years old; she is single, independent, and a respected academic working as an English professor at UCL. She is dedicated to her work and, with her sensible wardrobe of cardigans, pleated skirts and neat blouses, Elizabeth's life follows the path she has planned for. However, when she begins to feel unwell, collapses during a lecture and falls asleep during a meeting, only to wake up and find herself dribbling onto her cardigan, Elizabeth realises that maybe she needs help and reluctantly visits her doctor to have her health checked. When a brain tumour is diagnosed and subsequently successfully treated, Elizabeth, now in remission, is advised to take a sabbatical - and, in doing so, she takes on a whole new lease of life.

Elizabeth decides to return to Oxford: "the city of books", a city she hasn't revisited for more than thirty years, to carry out research on some of the papers of the poet T.S. Eliot, which she feels may help to make her next book her 'magnum opus'. There, Elizabeth becomes reacquainted with Professor Edward Hunt: "Black boots, scuffed, laces knotted three times. Jumper: too large, small hole near cuff. Hair: grey but still rising in ridiculous tufts" - who was Elizabeth's tutor when she was studying in Oxford, and a man to whom she was in thrall all those years ago ...

Intelligent, beautifully written and, at times, rather moving and intense, this story, with a strong evocation of place, is about being alone and how some people bury themselves in their work in order to fill their empty spaces; it's about how people avoid confronting issues that they would rather not face, and it's about being trapped in the past and regretting that life has not been lived to the full.
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Format: Hardcover
Grace McCleen's "The Professor of Poetry" is Elizabeth Stone, a 52 year old aged professor at a London University. When the book opens she has just discovered that a cancer scare is now in remission, but forced by her illness to take a sabbatical, she sets about researching her latest book based on some papers of TS Eliot. This takes her back to Oxford, to her alma mater and raises the prospect of seeing her former professor there, a man convinced of the young Miss Stone's potential at an early age, but whose last meeting was somewhat awkward. McCleen looks at the issues raised by generations of poets, namely time, death and love. For Professor Stone, the first has passed, the second come uncomfortably close and the third remains unknown to her. What's more, her academic focus is on the music of love poetry which is somewhat ironic in that she avoids human relationships perhaps due to the death of her mother at an early age and an unhappy foster experience, while also having a peculiar aversion to music. Perhaps though this is what allows her a detached ability to write academic studies.

Like many writers before her, following on from a book of such extraordinary critical acclaim as "The Land of Decoration" is always a challenge. There are some familiar elements though. Again, McCleen writes of a detached outsider and there is a similar haunting sadness to her writing which make McCleen such an interesting writer. However, in other ways until the end of the book where she does pull a rabbit out of the hat, it suffers somewhat in comparison.
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