When Sir William Empson died in 1984 in his seventy-eighth year, he had published four books of literary criticism (Seven Types of Ambiguity, Some Versions of Pastoral, The Structure of Complex Words, and Milton’s God), a Collected Poems, a long introduction to a selection of Coleridge’s poems, and a quantity of miscellaneous periodical essays. Subsequently, another nine books have appeared, gathering the essays, many extensively revised, with some hitherto unpublished pieces including, as recently as last year, a completely new book, The Face of the Buddha, long lost but rediscovered in 2005. In addition, John Haffenden, who edited many of those posthumous volumes, has published a two-volume biography (2005, 2006), a hefty selection of Empson’s...


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