Literary Criticism

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel

By Alberto Manguel

At one magical quick on your early youth, the web page of a bookthat string of pressured, alien ciphersshivered into which means. phrases spoke to you, gave up their secrets and techniques; at that second, entire universes opened. You turned, irrevocably, a reader. famous essayist Alberto Manguel strikes from this crucial second to discover the 6000-year-old dialog among phrases and that magician with no whom the e-book will be a dull item: the reader. Manguel lingers over studying as seduction, as uprising, as obsession, and is going directly to hint the never-before-told tale of the reader's growth from clay capsule to scroll, codex to CD-ROM.

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Leavis, GEOFFREY HILL • 28 as is clear in such a shaft as this from Hill on Eliot: “Analytical finesse and knowing belletrism cohabited in his critical and cultural writings from the first. ”45 Leavis would have enjoyed “such people as,” assisted by Hill’s granting no and before the last name, Desmond MacCarthy, so that the chiming satanic trinity (Saintsbury, Whibley, MacCarthy) ends in hostile flatness. Leavis: “Bloomsbury (in a patronizing way) took up Eliot, who let himself be taken up. ”47 And Hill was anticipated in his estimate of Coriolan by Leavis, who maintained (of Eliot’s “intense interest in language”) that “the nature of that need as a distinctive portent of our time—that is, as something more than merely personal—gets direct expression in the two poems of the unfinished Coriolan sequence.

My focus here is not on Larkin’s merits but on the appreciation that “At Grass” might accrue from its having prompted (or more than prompted) one of Hill’s most endearing late poems, The Triumph of Love LII. Hill’s immediately preceding poem described the moral landscape in felicitous geological terms that match Tennyson’s exquisite evocations.

I think we should be told. “In ‘The Love Song of J. ” But even if this were patently so, it would not have to be merely a falling-off, as against being something other, with its own possibilities for revelation. To be fair, Hill does at once set about quoting and quizzing. You are not here to verify, Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity Or carry report. You are here to kneel Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more Than an order of words, the conscious occupation Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.

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