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Walter Ernest Allen (1911–1995)

Författare till The English Novel

19+ verk 493 medlemmar 4 recensioner

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An interesting and at times amusing review of the academic and journalist life of one of the Birmingham Group of writers. I particularly enjoyed the time as a student in the English Dept of Birmingham University, under de Selincourt. It features pen.portraitscof others in the Group, including Henry Reed and Louis MacNeice.
BobCurry | Apr 11, 2023 |
Walter Allen's thorough summary of the history of the English novel is more useful than revelatory. Each major writer is stolidly provided with a fairly extended essay, normally with one or two books given a quite detailed analysis. Every novelist has flaws as well as glories and Allen is not shy about discussing these. In addition a number of minor figures are covered more or less in bulk in each chapter. Allen's judgements are fair and carefully argued, reflecting received opinion, but daring to (cautiously) suggest mild iconoclasms. One tic of his prose is a frequent tendency to statements of the pattern - "There is no more convincing portrayal of xxxx in our language" -"This is the strongest example we posses of xxxx". The tone is that of formally written lectures, but Allen is not an academic (one wonders if some of this book originated from his talks on the BBC[?]). Although written in the mid 50s, all in all his ideas have aged gracefully, this will be a good book to have on the shelf for reference.… (mer)
sjnorquist | 1 annan recension | Sep 16, 2015 |
As with the predecessor, 'Tradition and Dream' is just a great piece of literary history. But it's better than the earlier history (which dealt with English fiction until about 1914) for a few reasons. First, there are more gems to be discovered here. Odds are, there aren't many really good books from the 19th century that are under the radar; but there might well be from the 20th. Second, it seems that the publishers at the NYRB press used this book to choose which books to bring back into print, which is both funny (since I wouldn't exactly call Walter Allen ahead of his time) and nice. You get a good summary of these lost minor classics.
Anyway, it's a quick read despite its length, and is a great way to get a first glimpse of early and mid twentieth century fiction from England and America.
… (mer)
stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Remember when literary critics read books and wrote about them? No? Well, I do now. He got a few things wrong - what did these people ever see in H.G. Wells? In Meredith? That they should be put next to (even sometimes above!) Forster and Woolf? Who knows. But at least you can get upset about this and know that Allen would probably have argued with you, instead of complaining that Forster was a crypto-imperialist (which is extraordinarily stupid, by the way), and Wells a eugenicist, and therefore they're not worth reading. He's a bit obsessed with 'symbolism' too, which is distracting, and has a soft spot for 'Englishness' and 'nonconformism,' which is more touching now than it might have been when there was still an empire. Anyway, I'd much rather read this than Greenblatt, and I imagine that goes for most people.… (mer)
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stillatim | 1 annan recension | Dec 29, 2013 |

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