The Enemy’s Country is a remarkable little book; in fact, it is remarkable in several significant ways.[1] Coming as it does from the pen of the distinguished British poet Geoffrey Hill, one might expect it to be well written, as indeed it is. It is also a notably learned book, demanding a patient and inquiring reader. The problems discussed are nothing less than the problems of writing and reading clearly, not only as they have shown themselves in centuries past but as they are agonized over today, often rather fruitlessly.

Based on the Clark Lectures that Hill delivered at Cambridge University in 1986, The Enemy’s Country is a model of what an important series of lectures should be, meticulously researched and brilliantly written. Hill conducts an extremely able discussion of an ancient problem: how to handle words so as to make one’s meaning clear,...


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