Books September 1987
Saving Rupert Brooke
A review of The Neo-Pagans: Rupert Brooke & the Ordeal of Youth by Paul Delany.
In mute testimony, perhaps, to the passing of his famous hour, The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (1973) is utterly silent about Rupert Brooke’s well-known lines and lineaments. In A History of Modern Poetry, however, the first volume of which appeared in 1976, David Perkins speaks loud and clear: “[Brooke’s] legend is now dead and, without it, neither the man nor the poetry is likely to sustain interest.” Yet just a few years later, the Bloomsbury memoirist John Lehmann argued that, with the new materials (letters and reminiscences) available since Christopher Hassall’s “monumental” biography (1964) and Geoffrey Keynes’s edition of the letters (1968), a more realistic portrait of the man and estimate of the poet had been made possible. In effect, Lehmann tried to modernize Rupert Brooke, matching his personal qualities with the strengths and weaknesses of...
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