I note the recent launch of a major new project, editing Eliot’s prose and poetry, co-ordinated by the Institute of English Studies (University of London).
Two recent things of note from Andrew Motion:
The first was a piece in the Guardian Education supplement, on the centrality of the Bible to understanding English literature. His comments, from a professed atheist, will set heads nodding among those who have tried to teach religious history, even in a university context.
It provoked a number of responses, including that of Andrew Brown, also in the Guardian.
The second thing was another Guardian piece, this time reflecting on the role of Poet Laureate, which Motion is about to relinquish after ten years.
I note an interesting recent piece in the TLS (25th February) on the Jewish background to the work of Stephen Spender.
I note a recent exchange, related to the suggestion (impossible by custom, as it turns out) that Harold Pinter be commemorated in Poet’s Corner. The suggestion is made by the Conservative MP Ed Vaizey on his blog, and subsequently objected to, by at least one newspaper letter-writer, on grounds of Pinter’s expressed views on Christianity. (Times 8/1/09)
I note a couple of recent items in connection with Tom Paulin, and the relationship between English Nonconformity and its poetic results. Paulin touches on it in a review of the recent edition of the letters of Ted Hughes, in which it is Hughes’ religious background which allows him to write in a “spontaneous, direct, unforced and unflinching manner.” See also a review of Paulin’s own work in the Dublin Review of Books, and most recently, Terry Eagleton on Paulin, the “Puritan at play”, and its political subtexts, in the Guardian Review.
I should be very interested to learn of any work that has tried to explore such a relation more generally, as I’m not aware of much to date. It could have interesting implications for thinking about religious poetry, but also more broadly about liturgical change and other religio-cultural issues. That a connection between background and poetic output can be made is evident from a recent article on George Barker.
See also an earlier post on William Empson.