Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

When Complete Meant Complete

A brief mention on Crooked Timber of Randall Jarrell's Pictures From an Institution, which I was rereading the other day.

RJ really deserves one of those whopping victorian complete works that actually were complete works (I have a two-volume swift in 6-point type in two columns that includes works, letters from and to, attributed works, and marginal annotations. Even an orwell-type complete published writings would be better than nothing) rather than the current situation where I have to keep buying selections in editions that overlap by about 80%. Lines like "Xxx hints - and when Xxx hints, pigs come running from miles around - that...." are right up there with Housman's invective.
And that's the only time anybody in this century will read the name of any of these forgettable poetasters like Xxx ...immortality of a sort, I can remember the insult even if not the object.
Incidentally, can anyone out there confirm or deny that ?Harriet? the villainess is based on Mary McCarthy?
And when I say 'insult' and 'invective' I do recognise that RJ tried his very best to be fair and positive, and to avoid the personal; so the effect was, as in Pogo, "His 'howdy' is anyone else's 'drop dead', so when he says 'Mmmm....' that means he really, really doesn't like you."

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