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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
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«  Posts from 24 June 2012  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

11.12.2017


A review of the American edition of Reed's A Map of Verona and Other Poems appears in a most unlikely place: the Delta Democrat-Times of Greenville, Mississippi, from October 12, 1947. Doubly unusual because the book was only just published on October 8th, so the reviewer must have received an advanced copy. Greenville, I was quick to discover, has a vast and rich literary pedigree, and produced nearly one hundred published writers in the 20th century.

Doris Karsell (1922-2010), was a Denver artist and muralist, educated at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. She lived and worked in Greenville while her husband was managing editor at the Delta Democrat-Times (owned by Pulitzer Prize winner Hodding Carter), setting up a studio with the illustrator Elizabeth Calvert and advertising personalized book plates, portraits, and murals. Apparently, Doris was affectionately known as "Dodo". You can see a free preview of her review, "New Poet Now Mature," on NewspaperARCHIVE.com:


Karsell begins by chiding another reviewer (Walter Allen?) for attempting to place Reed outside or above the rest of the Eliot-imitating oeuvre ("It is an act of great inaccuracy to preclude"), and then rules the book "the exception and the good." She admires Reed's style, finding "each line in the collection has been cut and finished with precision. One believes that no other form or words could have been used." She discovers a strange kinship with the poet:

As if the words were sent to the receiving system by strings, and breath through hollowed wood, one is made to climb out of the box of his own limitations. One is given the long ribbon of time in its three phases. It is a clever thing that the beginning sketch establishes partnership. For the reader knows he himself has written the first verse which Henry Reed has borrowed. He knows that he is the sole one to experience it.

Most of the rest of the review is pedestrian walking-tour stuff, going through the book chapter-by-chapter, like describing rooms to a houseguest. But Karsell concludes strongly, advising, "Read the whole volume aloud, even should you read it alone," and then finally, prophetically: "It is possible we shall remember Henry Reed."


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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