cover image Essays in Appreciation

Essays in Appreciation

Christopher Ricks, Author Oxford University Press, USA $60 (376p) ISBN 978-0-19-818344-0

Jane Austen disliked babies and young children, so depictions of a loving relationship between an adult and a child are notably absent from her novels, which instead satirize parental doting. Thomas Carlyle, who at the age of 70 read his wife's journals after her death, realized how much he was to blame for her profound unhappiness; remorse shaped his life for the next 15 years. Ricks (The Force of Poetry) teases out little-known connections between writers' lives and art in these erudite yet almost conversational essays and lectures. He detects misogyny in poet John Donne's bitter repudiation of love and sex. Faustus's bargain with the Devil in Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, guaranteeing that he would live for another 24 years, takes on new meaning as Ricks surveys the plagues that ravaged Elizabethan England. Other essays in this eclectic collection deal with Victorian biography (Tennyson, Charlotte Bronte), George Crabbe as a poet of bondage to tradition, George Eliot's Middlemarch and Robert Lowell's translation of Racine's Phedre. (Apr.)