THE LAND UNKNOWN: Chapters of Autobiography by Kathleen Raine

THE LAND UNKNOWN: Chapters of Autobiography

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The subtitle is highly indicative of the desultory and incomplete way in which this British poet has chosen to look back on her self-preoccupied life and work which seem to have excluded all others, beginning with the repudiation of her parents when she finally was accepted at Cambridge. Thus she can also just as cavalierly give away her children whom she has not mentioned hitherto--the offspring of a brief marriage which rescued her from an awkward youthful commitment. At Cambridge she met William Empson with whom her name is sometimes coupled although she also belonged to (and apart from) the major poets of her time who outstripped them both--Auden, Spender, etc. Kathleen Raine is regarded as a Hatonist or neo-Platonist (best known in England where many of her collections have appeared along with a work on Blake) and she never divagated from her belief in the ""highest attainable human excellence"" assaulted as it would be during her time. After her marriage to Charles Madge, she fell passionately in love with a young man of ""mortal beauty"" but somehow she was never able to reconcile her feelings (or non-feelings?)with the greater demands of the mystical side of her nature here expressed in innumerable referrals to her ""soul"" and her ""daimons"" and her ""visions."" She was destined to ""solitude"" by the dictates of her poetry (""For feeling too has its culture. Fineness of feeling requires a freedom and a privacy accorded to few"") which excluded both her worldly and, ultimately, her religious inclinations. She remains one of those lucky and unhappy ""few""--a cloistered sensibility.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1975
Publisher: Braziller