SO LONG TO LEARN by John Masefield


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This is a book apart from the autobiographical series- though linked with it as a vital facet of Masefield's life and career. In these pages he shares the experiences concerned with his writing- the long process of ""learning"" -- with virtually nothing concrete as to the achieving. A quick backward glance to childhood preoccupation with books, the influence they had on his thinking and emotional life, from nursery rhymes on to the discovery of red Indians, pirates, the thrill of story adventure and the discovery that he had that magic gift of experiencing a story in imagination, full blown. One gets a sense of a much more prosperous background than his early autobiographical books indicated. Even the training in Her Majesty's Navy seemed a part of schooling, and the poverty stricken days in the United States are glossed over with his worship of America's stimulating qualities and New York's beauties. The return to England, the intimate contacts- and the less intimate ones-with the late Pre-Raphaelites done in terms of what it did for his writing. Story or verse or novel or essays- one gets a shadowy sense of his achievement, a groping towards an ephemeral goal. But one does sense the uncertainties, the disappointments, and at the same time the growth. Swinburne, Yeats, these were two great influences. Hardy a lesser one. Other great Victorians played their part in his development. Techniques- procedures were learned. Then in the final chapters, he gives in detail the eight years experiment with the spoken expression given to the great poetry of the English tongue- the contests which grew into festivals, establishing the gift the English might give the world of poetry. A book for poets and potential poets. The general public will find only bits here and there of general interest.

Pub Date: March 11th, 1952
Publisher: Macmillan