THE SIGN OF THE FISH by Peter Quennell


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Report repeated from the April 15th bulletin, when scheduled for earlier publication, as follows: The biographer and portraitist (Hogarth's Progress, The Profane Virtues, etc.) discusses the background of art, chiefly in relation to literature, and it is a graceful and discerning causerie proceeding from personal experience to that of many of his well known contemporaries, from the particular to the universal. The pleasure and pain of writing, a via dolorosa, pursued to intensify and enlarge our sense of life, leads to a discussion of the various genres: poetry, the older and nobler form of writing which he attempted as a young man, Robert Graves, T. S Eliot, Thomas and his disordered life, and that 'solid literary phalanx' -- the Sitwells; storytellers, and again the failings of his own early novel, Colette, Gide, Virginia Woolf, Greene's 'inferno' and Waugh's 'wasteland'; stylists- George Moore and James; artists, biography, with an aside on his own study of Byron. There is an interesting piece on writing as a means of self- discovery; on two criminal court cases; on literature and illness- and the artistic personality which- in its heightened sensibility- must also be neurotic. Quennell is a fastidious and perspicacious writer and these essays on artists and writers have many small insights and larger illuminations to attract and stimulate a selective audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1960
Publisher: Viking