Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Over-extended metaphor

I said a while ago that reviews in literary studies tend to be excellent compared to those in other disciplines. But there are always exceptions:

Dr. Rostvig is again excellent on the intellectual background, particularly in bringing familiar material into new focus. She gives a fresh turn to the topic of Augustan poetry and landscape-gardening. Her essay on the still underrated James Thomson, who played a large part in destroying the classical ideal of the beatus vir, is excellent criticism. She resolutely traces the course of the river to its end; but as it widens to the sea, the water grows shallow and the fish more commonplace. When a Watts, a Collins, or an Akenside swims by, Dr. Rostvig marks him appreciatively. But the tiddlers come in shoals here, and we are forced to look at them too with almost comic concentration. There was too much in Dr. Rostvig's first book; she still lacks the discrimination of the compleat angler.

-James Kinsley, Review of English Studies, Feb. 1960 (in a review of volume 2 of Maren-Sofie Rostvig's classic The Happy Man)

Yikes.

No comments: