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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.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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Reeding:

Cold Comfort Farm: Sensible Flora Poste moves in with her eccentric country relatives.
The Dog Stars: A man, his dog, and an airplane survive an apocalyptic flu.
The Sparrow: A Jesuit-led mission to a newly discovered planet.


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Posts from July 2006

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

27.11.2014


Listenering

Four days and a fistful of dollars in photocopier fees later, my little collection is heavier by a grand total of 20 articles: no fewer than 16, primary source, Reed-written book reviews and talks; one Reed poem as it originally appeared at publication; and three reviews of his radio work by secondary authors. All culled from 12 volumes of the BBC's Listener, spanning just nine years, 1949-1958:

listeners

I also managed to eliminate several duplicate records in the bibliography owing to innaccurate or incorrect citations, and deleted a couple of leads which turned out to be dead ends (more mistaken references to Sir Herbert Read. Damn poseur).

The haul includes several essential and long sought-after items, including Reed's two-part radio essay on the problems of dramatic writing ("Towards 'The Cocktail Party'"); Reed's take on Joyce's effect on the English novel ("The Triple Exile"); and "'If and Perhaps and But'," a look at Eliot's critical prose.

The last two days, when I sidled up to the library copier, I discovered the previous user had left the machine set to the scanner, instead of for simply making copies. I didn't think much of it, but then I had a sudden epiphany: the library copiers are set up to scan straight to email! We have this luxury on the staff copy machines, of course. But it wasn't until this evening that I even dared to imagine that the public machines have this marvelous capability. I do dream in a dream.

Next up: "Reeding Lessons" tackles The New Statesman and Nation!



1505. Orwell, George. "Young Writers." Review of New Writing and Daylight (Summer 1943), edited by John Lehmann. Spectator (30 July 1943): 110.
Orwell says of "The End of an Impulse," Reed's criticism of the Auden-Spender school of poetry, 'Henry Reed's essay contains some valuable remarks on the dangers of group literature.'


More of a Force

I have a cartload of old Listener volumes from offsite storage waiting for me at the main branch, which unfortunately closed before I could get there today, due to an unanticipated power outage. But the universe sent me a small concession: my 1947 book review finally arrived from Interlibrary Loan this morning. (Never fails, it'll always show up the day after you claim it "Not received.")

kirkus

I always feel an overwhelming thrill of discovery looking at these old documents and journals: the sense that no one else has read these pages since they were originally published, 50 or 60 years ago (no one except, possibly, the poor library clerk who had to photocopy them).

The Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Bookshop Service, back in the day at least, was a somewhat homespun affair: typewritten, mimeographed, and mailed to subscribing bookstores and libraries full of hungry patrons wondering which book to read next. Virginia Kirkus (1893-1980) read publishers' galleys, and wrote the succinct reviews herself.

An inarguably favorable review. Kirkus compares Reed with Richard Wilbur, a (slightly) younger American poet of more considerable plumb and prolificity. Both poets' first volumes of poetry appeared in America in 1947.

Reed if the more intellectual of the two, has a firm grasp of the poetic technique, he is more concrete and more vigorous and has a fine sense of irony. He seems therefore more of a force.

Read the entire, original review, "Two Young Poets" (.pdf).

Interestingly enough, Wilbur started out in cryptography during World War II, and was transferred to combat due to his political leanings (whereas Reed began his service with combat training, and was transferred to cryptography). Wilbur discusses the relationship between cryptography and poetry in these videotaped interviews. Not to be missed is "We need a cryptographer, but if we catch you overthrowing the government—you're out." (Both links to embedded video at People's Archive.)



1504. Ludwig, Jennifer. "Lessons of the War: Henry Reed." In vol. 2, Literature of War: Experiences, edited by Thomas Riggs. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2012. 359-361.
A relatively lengthy assessment of Reed's influences, position, and the impact resulting from his famous sequence of poems, Lessons of the War.


The Programme Catalogue is Having a Massage

The BBC Programme Catalogue experimental prototype appears to have "entered a review phase", and is "currently unavailable."

Dear BBC: the Programme Catalogue is an important, valuable resource for scholarship and enthusiasts, and should be restored as soon as possible. Less reviewin', more inclusion! Thank you.

«  BBC Radio  0  »


1503. King, Francis. Yesterday Came Suddenly: An Autobiography. London: Constable, 1993. 79-80.
Mentions Henry Reed and Angus Wilson making fun of the Bletchley Park Writers' Circle.


Serendipitous Discoveries, Snail Mail

I had a couple of days off around the Fourth of July, owing to a governor generous to his overworked state employees, and to an ongoing library construction/renovation project, which left my department almost completely unbuilt for several days.

Unfettered, I snuck over to the other campus library, to snag a 1965 book review written by Reed on Hugh D. Ford's A Poet's War: British Poets and the Spanish Civil War. I was chagrined to discover that our run of The Sunday Times doesn't begin until 1972.

In an attempt to salvage something of my visit, I decided to browse The Offical Index to the Times (London). I discovered, however, that that particular set is arranged by year and subject—which makes perfect sense—but is less helpful than a personal names index. Crestfallen, I was ready to disembark emptyhanded, when the adjacent title in the Index section caught my eye: The Book Review Digest.

Our main library shelves large sets of indexes separately, in their own section, lumped immediately following the bulk of the Reference collection. Somehow, after years of prowling the Reference books, I had overlooked this resource. Volume after volume of nothing but (American) book review citations, arranged by the years they were reviewed, with indications of positive and/or negative reviews, and including short quotations and lengthy excerpts!

I instinctively pulled down 1946, but Reed's poetry collection, A Map of Verona, wasn't published in the States until 1947. Quickly upgrading to the next volume, I found it quite easily: no fewer than four reviews indexed! Two of which I had already seen: Rago's review from Commonweal, and Breit's from The New York Times Book Review. But that left me two, never-before-seen, completely unheard of, reviews of Henry Reed! Two! Two! Two reviews! Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. I nearly floated to the photocopiers, and exercised enormous restraint as I carefully replaced the Digest volume in its slot on the shelf, afterward, before nearly skipping to the online catalog.

The Kirkus review? Only available online, and only after 1969. Which meant requesting photocopies through Interlibrary Loan. The Library Journal we had, but the less relevant, more aged volumes are stored offsite, which meant I had to place my request and wait a day to see the result. To my dismay, the 50-word blurb had already been quoted in its entirety in Book Review Digest (which should have been painfully obvious, as they thoughtfully provide a word count):

Henry Reed is a young English poet whose work, until now, has been little known in this country. Many of the poems have legendary themes but their meaning is deeply rooted in our own 'age of anxiety.' The final pages are devoted to lyric interludes written for a BBC radio version of Moby Dick.
Library Journal 72, no. 21 (1 December 1947): 1688.

And today was the sixth day since my Interlibrary Loan of a particular Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Bookshop was shipped, and still, the U.S. mail brings me no joy. Tomorrow, perhaps?

«  Indexes Criticism  0  »


1502. Reed, Henry. Poetry Reading. The Poet Speaks. British Council recording, no. 1636. 12 March 1970. Co-sponsored by the British Council and the Woodberry Poetry Room in the Lamont Library of Harvard University. TAPE ARCHIVE PR6035.E32 A6 1970x, Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Henry Reed reads a selection of his poems for the British Council series, The Poet Speaks.


KERNEL_STACK_INPAGE_ERROR

If your hard drive has to give up the ghost, I guess this is probably the best way.

Two weekends ago, I was sleepily browsing the internet during morning coffee, when my laptop literally went "Kaflooie!" and started throwing Blue Screen of Death after Blue Screen of Death. It wouldn't boot at all at first, but finally started up again, albeit running impossibly slow, and only for ten minutes at a time.

I did get one excellent streak where it stayed alive for more than an hour, and I managed to copy my email and all my Reed-related documents to CD. I had a recent backup, but I wanted to be absolutely sure I got everything.

With a new hard drive installed, I spent this weekend updating Windows, updating Windows, downloading software, updating Windows, and reconfiguring my wireless. I should be happily posting again, soon!

«  Updates  0  »


1501. Reed, Henry. Interview with Peter Orr. The Poet Speaks. British Council recording, no. 1638. 11 June 1970. Co-sponsored by the British Council and the Woodberry Poetry Room in the Lamont Library of Harvard University. TAPE ARCHIVE PR6035.E32 Z5 1970x, Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Henry Reed speaks with Peter Orr of the British Council, as part of the series The Poet Speaks.



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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