A CLERK OF OXENFORD by Gilbert Highet


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Stimulating, provocative, this second volume of essays by the author of People, Places and Books challenges the success of the first, and will be welcome to all who enjoy his popular radio program. He divides the material into three sections,- prose, poetry, imagination and Reality -- which permit ample scope for conversation and conjecture. He talks of here of historical romance, and using Sclinko's Desiree as a model, takes note of whether these heroines conform to actuality or to an accepted pattern. He writes of George Orwell, suggesting that he, while in essense an outcast, yet provided valuable social observations that only an outsider of his peculiar makeup could supply. Now with scholarly half lift of eyebrow, now with easy turn of phrase, Mr. Highet contributes depth to his observations, in thinking of poetry, he restates many old truths:- its rhythmic delight, its power to teach, its expression of the mystic and the religious, its many facets of use. They are as important today as yesterday, as evident in Tennyson as in a Japanese line. Perhaps the most interesting section, dealing with imagination and reality, ranges over a wide variety of topics:- invectives and ""kitch"" (by which he means his attraction to flo style); the undersea world and mountain climbing; chess; the crying need we have today for a more basic knowledge of science. A book to be read for pleasure and profit.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1954
Publisher: Oxford