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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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«  Spender Defends  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

29.4.2017


Spender Defends

An excellent find in the series Poetry Criticism: in the entry for Randall Jarrell is a reprint of a 1948 review by Stephen Spender of Jarrell's collection Losses, from The Nation (1 May 1948). The collection contains many of Jarrell's famous poems which came out of his experiences in the Army Air Force during World War II, including "The Dead Wingman," "Pilots, Man Your Planes," and "Eighth Air Force."

Book jacket

Spender compares Jarrell to Robert Lowell, calling him a "modern" poet in a "certainly" American landscape; but he also compares his language to the Victorian poets:

Mr. Jarrell often reminds me of Tennyson and Browning. Or rather this will not seem strange if I quote from "Orestes at Tauris," which is a long, odd failure, merging into the language of prize poems with which the English Victorian writers once took the stage:
So he looked; and yet in all that press
At Argos or Mycenae, or in all the isles
You never saw her like: a face so fair!
She wet your hair, and smoothed it with her hands,
Water ran down your face, and it looked pale
Under those dark and darkening locks; you shook them free,
And how ghastly it looked—your pale anxious face!
This is Victorian Prize Poetry with a big V and two big P's, and to judge from Mr. Jarrell's remarks about Henry Reed when he does the same thing considerably better, I cannot believe Mr. Jarrell likes it himself.

"Considerably better!" Spender is, of course, referring to a dismissive review of Reed's A Map of Verona and Other Poems in The Nation just a month earlier, in which Jarrell compares Reed to "a nap after dinner."


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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