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ABR Arts

Book of the Week

Hazzard and Harrower: The letters
Letters

Hazzard and Harrower: The letters edited by Brigitta Olubas and Susan Wyndham

‘Everyone allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female.’ So said Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey. Even allowing for Regency hyperbole, there is some truth in the sally. We think of the inimitable letters of Emily Dickinson, who once wrote to a succinct correspondent: ‘It were dearer had you protracted it, but the Sparrow must not propound his crumb.’ In 2001, Gregory Kratzmann edited A Steady Stream of Correspondence: Selected Letters of Gwen Harwood, 1943-1995. Anyone who ever received a letter or postcard from Harwood – surely our finest letter writer – knows what an event that was. She was nonpareil: witty, astringent, frank, irrepressible. Now we have this welcome collection of letters written by Elizabeth Harrower and Shirley Hazzard (unalphabetised on the cover, in a possible concession to the expatriate Hazzard’s international fame).

Interview

Interview

Interview

From the Archive

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357

Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance: The legacy of the 'Natural History' by Sarah Blake McHam

When the intellectuals, writers, and artists of the Renaissance sought a theoretical basis for the new styles they were developing – at a time when the new meant all’antica and the term modern was still coloured by associations with the Middle Ages – they found that ancient sources were relatively abundant in some areas and scarce or non-existent in others. Poets could find inspiration in Horace’s Ars Poetica, and later in Aristotle’s Poetics. And there was a wealth of material on rhetoric – Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Tacitus – in fact an abundance out of all proportion to the practice of the art in an age when public speaking was represented by sermons and university lectures rather than by the deliberative and forensic oratory that were the lifeblood of Greece and Rome.

From the Archive

June 2007, no. 292

The Scandal Of The Season by Sophie Gee

The Rape of The Lock helped secure Alexander Pope’s reputation as a commanding poet of the early eighteenth century. This mock-epic poem, based on a real incident, satirises the trivialities of high society by comparing it with the epic world of the gods. One of Pope’s acquaintances, Lord Petre, cut off a ringlet of hair from his paramour Arabella, thereby causing a breach of civilities between the two families. Pope was asked to write a poem to make jest of the situation and to reconcile the disgruntled parties. Its success was due to the disparity between content and form, between his mischievous coupling of petty vanity and the lofty grandeur of traditional epic subjects. The rape of Helen of Troy thus becomes the theft of a curl of hair; instead of gods and goddesses there are ‘sylphs’ or guardian spirits, and great battles are converted to gambling bouts and flirtatious sparrings.

From the Archive