Valentine Cunningham

Valentine Cunningham is a fellow in English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of British Writers of the Thirties.

A whole lot of faking

Valentine Cunningham, 22 April 1993

‘The philosopher asks: Can the style of an evil man have any unity?’ It’s a wonderfully sharp question, marrying morals to aesthetics in a challenging new-old fashion. And it’s a question, as ever with John Banville, within other questions. Who, for instance, you’re made to wonder at this point in Ghosts, is actually asking? Some anonymous narrator? The author? The novel’s own enigmatic ‘evil man’, the one who does so much of its telling and, it turns out, has a lot morally to answer for? You never know. It’s hard to tell; it’s always hard to tell with this author. It’s at the centre of his power that his mood, his people’s mood, the mood of his writing, is inte0rogative. And in best Modernist fashion, these interrogations don’t have straight answers.


Good Old English

10 October 1991

What a strange thing was Richard North’s supposed review (LRB, 10 October) of the Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature! Imagine my surprise after only three paragraphs or so to find its subject had stopped being the Godden/Lapidge horde of Medievalists and their thoughts on West Saxon writing and had become instead me and my efforts to remove Anglo-Saxon from its too-long-held and very damaging...

A few months before his early death from tuberculosis, John Keats scribbled these lines in his papers: This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in...

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Loose Canons

Edward Mendelson, 23 June 1988

Frank Kermode’s History and Value reads the literature of the Thirties as ‘a love story, almost a story of forbidden love’. The story is usually told in political terms, but the...

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Michael Church, 9 October 1986

‘I adore war,’ Julian Grenfell reported to his mother from the Flemish trenches in 1914, in a letter which she proudly sent on for anonymous publication in the Times. Stalking Germans...

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