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Essays & Criticism

Essays & Criticism
Written by Ian Hamilton

Poetry Chronicle: Essays and Reviews

Book: (London: Faber, 1973; New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973)

From the Preface:

'I have been writing regular poetry reviews for just over ten years now, and this book is a selection of what seem to me my least ephemeral pieces. I have printed them more or less as they first appeared in periodicals, limiting revision to the adjustment of sloppy phrasings and resisting the temptation, stronger in some cases than in others, to amplify and extend. My hope is that the book, whatever is thought of its opinions, will serve some kind of documentary purpose; that, at worst, it will offer a reasonably detailed (though hardly all-inclusive) picture of what has been happening in poetry during the last decade.'

The Little Magazines: A Study of Six Editors

Book: (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1976)

The LIttle Magazines: A Study of Six Editors, by Ian HamiltonFrom the Preface:

'Why "little magazines"? No one has ever quite been sure where the term came from (though The Little Review has been suggested as a probable source) and it is not easy to define what credentials a magazine requires in order to fit into the genre. There have been large magazines with tiny circulations and there have been diminutive sheets which have reached thousandsd of readers. But all "little magazines" have been small in one or another of these ways, and usually in both. They have had small resources, small respect for the supposed mysteries of "how to run a business", small appeal outside a very small minority of readers.

'And yet most of them have had arrestingly large-scale ambitions, a deep sense of the unique importance of their task. They have usually felt that they were making points, supporting gifts, promoting tendencies which would otherwise have been fatally neglected. They have seen themselves as nurturing literary growth at a level subtler and more crucial than could ever be imagined by the commercial or "established" press. And here perhaps one can hazard a definition that will cover most of the whole field. The little magazine is one which exists, indeed thrives, outside the usual business structure of magazine production and distribution; it is independent, amateur and idealistic -- it doesn't (or, shall we say, feels that it shouldn't) need to print anything it doesn't want to print.'

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993

Book: (London: Bloomsbury, 1994)

From the Foreword:

'When the bailiffs come to call, as call they often do down Grub Street way, your goods and chattels are not immediately carried off to auction. For fourteen days, you are given a chance to raise the money owed. During this period, the duns take ‘walking possession’ of the things you own, or used to own. For two weeks, the stuff is not yours but it is also not quite theirs. Reviewers are sometimes thought of as the bailiffs of literature: they take walking possession of their subjects; they talk as if they own them, but they don’t. And that’s one way of explaining the title of this book. Another is to confess that many of the reviews reprinted here were written in less than fourteen days and one or two of them were done on a typewriter half-owned by the courts'.

The Trouble with Money and Other Essays

Book: (London: Bloomsbury, 1998)

The Trouble with Money and Other Essays, by Ian HamiltonAuthor's Note:

'The "new" pieces collected here were written between 1994 and 1997 and to these I have added a selection from Walking Possessions, which was published in hardback by Bloomsbury in 1994'.


1. Down Grub Street Way

The Trouble with Money, 3
Us and Them, 9
I Love Concordances, 16
Poor Cyril, 22

2. Lives and Letters

Edmund Wilson's Wounds, 31
Harold Ross of The New Yorker, 40
The Buried Life: Elizabeth Bishop's Letters, 49
The Sensitivities of Stephen Spender, 61
Auden's Juvenilia, 87
The First Life of Salman Rushdie, 95
Ford Madox Ford: Who Am I?, 139
Louis MacNeice: Anxious and Aloof, 145
Edward Upward: It's No Joke, 152
R. S. Thomas -- Frown by Frown, 159

3. 'These Are Damned Times': Two Victorians

Tennyson: Two Lives, 169
Arnold's Letters, Finally, 180

4. Sports and Pastimes

On Being a Soccer Bore, 195
Tel's Tale, 203
All Our Yesterdays, 209
Cups and cups, 215
Three Managers, 221
Glenn and 'Glenda', 229
Just What Are Those Teeth For?, 237
Chunnel Crossing, 243
Anti-Star: A Profile of Julie Christie, 250
Taste, Tact and Racism, 266

5. From Walking Possession

A Biographer's Misgivings, 289
Philip Larkin: 1. The Collected Poems, 307
Philip Larkin: 2. The Selected Letters, 314
Philip Larkin: 3. The Biography, 321
Seamus Heaney's Anonymity, 330
Innocent Bystander -- The Forgetfulness of Damon Runyon, 338
Kingsley Amis's Self-Love, 345
The Comic Strip, 351
The Knocking Shop, 357

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