Roger Poole

Roger Poole author of The Unknown Virginia Woolf, is currently working on a book about Kierkegaard. He is a lecturer in English at Nottingham University.



5 June 1980

SIR: I am very grateful indeed to Mr Sturrock for writing as he did, in the last issue of the LRB, about my recent review of Structuralism and Since, because it allows me to make a matter of wider debate the ethical and political status of structuralism.My reaction is: ‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much’! Very eminent practitioners of post-structuralism have ticked me off again and again...

John Sturrock’s little book is the best single guide to its subject that has yet appeared. Structuralism and Since demands, though, that its title be taken literally. It traces, technically and without concession to idle curiosity, the course of ‘structuralism’ in its modern phase – from the moment when it achieved new importance in the work of Lévi-Strauss in the early Sixties, through its development and extensions in the work of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, to its present position, which is known either as ‘post-structuralism’ or simply as ‘deconstruction’.

A Walk with Kierkegaard

Roger Poole, 21 February 1980

Bernard Levin recently summed up in one sentence the most ambiguous form of mental sickness in our age: ‘But there are those who live by an enervated reason that owns no master in the soul, and who can find arguments that enable them to claim that the atrophy of the moral sense from which they suffer is in fact a form of rational judgment.’ This is precisely what Sören Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was contending about his own age, with a prophetic accuracy which now seems almost uncanny. His word for what Mr Levin is describing here is ‘at raisonere’, ‘to reason’, but to reason in a very special way, a way which, while knowing everything, is unwilling to do anything about it. ‘To reason’ in this way, he said, ‘annuls the passionate disjunction between subjectivity and objectivity’.

F.R. Leavis, Politics and Religion

Roger Poole, 20 December 1979

The appearance of the 20-volume reissue of Scrutiny in 1963 should have made it possible to evaluate at last the achievement of F.R. and Q.D. Leavis and their colleagues with some degree of unanimity. Here at last were the actual essays, beautifully reprinted and laid out, essays which had been virtually unobtainable for many years, and of which original sets (even incomplete and battered) had enjoyed a prestige which was not merely commensurate with their rarity.

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