This is the final newsletter for which
David Wilkinson will serve as associate editor. I, on behalf of all of the
members of the New Canterbury Literary Society, would like to thank him for all
he has done for NCLSN and for Aldington Studies. I’m sure we will continue to
benefit from David’s expertise and enthusiasm in the future.
A small number of NCLS members
still prefer to receive the newsletter in hard copy. I would be very grateful
for a new Associate Editor in the US or North America who would be prepared to
mail a small number of copies (pro bono, I’m afraid) every three months.
It is with regret that I report the death
of former member of the NCLS Dominic Hibberd on 12 August 2012. The editor of
Wilfred Owen, and the biographer of Owen and Harold Monro, Hibberd was an
eminent scholar of First World War poetry. Obituaries were published in the Guardian
and the Daily Telegraph, and the war poetry scholar Tim Kendall wrote a
| Telegraph obituary | Tim
On Saturday 28
July this year a lunch was held at the Holiday Inn at Padworth, Berkshire to
commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of R. A.’s death (on 27 July 1962). The
chief guests were Tim Aldington, nephew of R.A. and his wife, Ginette. We were
honoured that Tim and Ginette had made the journey from their home in Italy
especially to be present. We were sorry, however, that ill health made it
impossible for Jennifer, Tim’s sister, to join us.
The lunch was
attended by the NCLS editor and associate editor, correspondents Michael Copp,
Simon Hewett (who had flown in from New York to be with us) and Caroline
Zilboorg, and biographer Vivien Whelpton. Other guests included: Adrian Barlow
(Answers for my murdered self (1987); 'Re-reading
Aldington's Poetry' in Richard Aldington: Reappraisals (1990)); Jane Conway, cousin of Jennifer and Tim Aldington and biographer
of Mary Borden; David Worthington, chair of the War Poets’ Association; and
Annie Shaw, who grew up in Padworth and whose grandmother had been a
housekeeper for R.A.
There were readings from R.A.,
both prose and poetry, and then Tim talked to us very movingly about his
memories of his uncle. The memorable conclusion to the day was a walk round
Padworth ‘in the footsteps’ of R.A. led by David Wilkinson.
[Editor Andrew Frayn took a small number of
photographs of the event, which can be found on
If any one
moment marks the beginning of early Anglo-American modernism, that is to say,
Imagism, it has to be that day in September 1912 when Ezra Pound, after reading
some of HD's poems in the tea-room of the British Museum, scribbled ‘H. D.
Imagiste’ at the bottom. There is no agreement on the precise date of this
celebrated meeting, so Robert Richardson's choice of 15 September is as good an
approximation as any. Under his aegis seven of us assmbled for dinner in the
Bloomsbury St. Restaurant & Bar (Bob, myself, Helen Carr, Sam and Joyce
Milne, Judith Palmer, and Cassandra Clark). Bob had created a small display,
with photographs of Pound, H.D. and RA, and I supplemented these with a few
appropriate books (Des Imagistes, RA’s Images and Images of
War, Flint’s Cadences, and Coterie, September 1919, with RA’s
‘Minor Exasperations’). In the course of a leisurely meal, and toasts to the
Imagist poets, and animated conversation a number of appropriate poems were
read as well as statements made about the Imagists and their early work. It was
highly fitting that from our table we looked out at the building opposite to be
informed by Bob that the Oxfam Bookshop we could see marked the site of the
original Egoist offices.
Richardson writes that to celebrate the centenary of that moment in September
1912 when Ezra Pound declared H. D. an “Imagiste” (with RA also present), The
Poetry Society promoted The Imagist Walk. At their invitation Richardson, on 29
September, led 18 people on the Walk he devised for the British Museum area of
London. Through locations relevant to Imagism he communicated some of its
history and ideas.
Please welcome to the NCLS new member
Justin Kishbaugh. He is a Ph.D. student currently finishing his dissertation,
entitled “Imaging Imagism: The Imagist Anthologies and the Concretization of
Modernist Poetry” at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United
States. He also received an M.F.A in Creative Writing from the Jack Kerouac
School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. He has attended the last
two Aldington/ Imagism conferences and is proud to submit his review of this
year’s event (below).
The VII International Aldington / III
International Imagism Conference took place from the 1st to the 3rd
of June this past summer in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France. Serving
as both a memorial for Catherine Aldington and an academic conference, the
event very nicely merged both community and scholarship.
The opening reception was held
at Catherine Aldington’s home, where an afternoon picnic, which also served as
a meet-and-greet, transitioned into an evening of commemorative poetry and
remembrances celebrating Catherine’s life. Mathew Nickel, Jessica Conti, and
Valerie Hemmingway all read poetry that considered their unique relationships
with Catherine, while H. R. Stoneback, Dan Kempton, and Eric Forbeaux offered
personal narratives that made Catherine a very real presence at the event.
The conference proper began
Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. and featured five separate sessions over the
course of the day. Being the third instalment of the joint Aldington/Imagism
conference, many papers merged those topics and discussed Aldington’s
involvement with Imagism. Anderson Araujo's paper, for
instance, exemplified that dual focus by arguing that Aldington's war poetry
incorporates the economy of Imagism to counter the sentimentality and jingoism
often found in Georgian poetry. Other attendees also delivered excellent
presentations. Two that immediately come to mind were those of David Ten Eyck and Daniel Kempton. David’s
presentation, entitled “Ezra Pound's Tours of Spain and Southern France and His
Dialogue with Imagism,” used a letter that Pound wrote to F.S. Flint from
southern France in 1912 to explore the critical dialogue between former and the
early Imagists at a crucial time in the formation of the group. Dan’s paper,
“RA in the USSR,” on the other hand, recounted a trip Aldington took later in
his life to the USSR, where he found that the current social and political
milieu had led to interpretations of his work that made him quite a celebrity
among the Soviets. All of the papers were well-received and generated lively
day of the conference featured a scenic boat ride that delivered the attendees
to an outdoor lunch and closing poetry reading. Set up by Eric Forbeaux, the
lunch featured local cuisine and contributed to the overall atmosphere of
community and intimacy. The poetry reading also brought the event to a nice
close. Jessica Conti, Jeff Grieneisen, Matthew Nickel, Anthony Ozturk, Fernando
Rodriguez Ayala, H. R. Stoneback, and I, all read original
work. “Stoney’s” reading, in particular, featured a wonderful mélange of story-telling,
recitation, and song that led the conference to culminate in a group sing-along
of American “Country and Western” tunes.
I thank the organizers for
putting together such a wonderful event. The next Aldington/Imagism conference
is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2014 in Paris.
Editor Andrew Frayn will give a paper at
the Modernist Studies Association conference in Las Vegas in October entitled
‘Motherf***ers: Gender, Sexuality and Otherness in First World War Fiction’.
The paper focuses on the erotic reaction of Winterbourne’s mother to his death
in Death of a Hero.
Correspondent Michael Copp notes that according to The
Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of 1979 the following works by RA are listed as
having been translated into Russian, together with the date of first
translation: Death of a Hero (1932); All Men are Enemies (1933); The
Colonel's Daughter (1935); Very Heaven (1938); Seven Against
Editor Andrew Frayn
observes that there are a number of references to RA in Carl Krockel’s War
Trauma and English Modernism: T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). Whilst I disagree with some of his
premises, particularly the pronounced division he sees between modernism and
Georgianism, Krockel makes interesting links among war writers. He also offers
a rare treatment of Eliot’s The Waste Land in relation to war; so often
are scholars and critics keen to say that the poem is not solely about the war
that the relationships between the two does not get discussed at all.
A Penguin edition of Death of a Hero
is now listed
on Amazon, for publication in early 2013. The introduction will be written
by James H. Meredith. That Aldington’s best-known novel will be more widely available
may help his reputation in allowing him to be more widely-taught and read.
Michael Copp spoke in early September at the Annual
Conference of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship, held this year at Radley
College. The title of his paper was ‘Siegfried Sassoon, Modernity, and
The Eliot-Aldington Letters
Now that the
third volume of The Letters of T.S. Eliot has been published, I thought
it would be interesting to trace their relationship through these letters,
volume by volume. Vol. I (1898-1922) contains 27 relevant letters: one from RA
to TSE, 25 from TSE to RA, and one from Vivien Eliot to RA, that is, covering
the period from June 1921 to December 1922.
first letter to TSE of 18 July 1919 also appears in Norman Gates, Richard
Aldington: An Autobiography in Letters, p. 50 (a second letter from RA to
TSE, dated 23 September 1919, is also in Gates but not in Vol. I). In the
former, RA expresses his admiration for TSE's critical articles: 'You have a
power of apprehension, of analysis, of the dissociation of ideas, with a humour
and ease of expression which makes you not the best but the only modern writer
of prose criticism in English.' To balance this, RA voices his dislike of TSE's
poetry: 'it is over-intellectual & afraid of those essential emotions which
from the subsequent letters from TSE, he does not seem to have been overly
upset at these comments. In his letter of 8 September 1921 he thanks RA for the
generous praise he gave to TSE's The Sacred Wood in To-day.
his postcard of 3 November 1921, TSE disagrees with RA’s high
opinion of H.D.'s Hymen. RA had written that 'H.D. is the greatest
living writer of vers libre', and that she possessed 'a poetic
personality both original and beautiful.' TSE, in his letter of 17 November
1921, writes: 'I think you overrate H.D.'s poetry. I do find it fatiguingly
monotonous and lacking the element of surprise.' Although they could disagree
on matters of evaluating certain poets, this does not immediately lessen their
respect for each other or damage their friendship.
his letter of 30 June 1922 TSE voices his anxieties about the Bel Esprit scheme
that Pound, RA and others were attempting to set up to support TSE financially.
times, RA's bluntness could cause things could get a little awkward and
prickly. The growing tensions and the cooling of their relationship become apparent
in the letter that Vivien Eliot wrote to RA on 15[?] July 1922 to protest at
what she and TSE regarded as RA's 'unkind, and not friendly' letter. RA's
comments were clearly hurtful to both Vivien and TSE: 'At this moment I know he
cannot stand a letter like this from anyone he actually did look
upon as his friend. . . . It looks to me as though you are definitely angry
and resentful against him for some reason, and are taking it out of him all
to RA on 17 July 1922 TSE expresses his surprise at the way RA reacted to the
critical remarks TSE had made about RA's article destined for the first issue
of the Criterion: 'My criticism of your article for the Criterion was
extremely mild compared to criticism you have often made of what I have
written. . . . It is odd that the first time I have ever offered anything but
praise of your work it should cause you such great offense, considering the
many times you have objected to writings of mine.'
15 November 1922 TSE writes: 'Your poem I much enjoyed; I can pay it the
compliment of saying that it makes one realise how far this excellent
instrument of the 17th century is deteriorated in the hands of
Georgian versifiers.' These comments, presumably, refer to The Berkshire
Kennet, although this was not published until 1923.
the 16 November 1922 the Liverpool Post made damaging and false
assertions about TSE's finances in general as well as about the Bel Esprit
scheme. TSE sent RA the relevant cutting on 18 November 1922. TSE was clearly deeply
pained and unnerved by this calumny.
15 December 1922 TSE writes to RA: 'Do not think that I suppose that these
attacks are the consequence of any activity of yours; because I do not.
Likewise I want to say that these misfortunes, and any other worries and
vexations which have been by-products of Bel Esprit, have not for a moment
obscured my appreciation of your great and ceaseless toil on my behalf. God
knows how many hours you have spent on it.'
letters of Volume II will be considered in the next Newsletter.)
I welcome warmly the recent efforts of correspondent
Michael Copp and biographer Vivien Whelpton in contributing longer pieces of
writing to the Newsletter. I be delighted to receive from any member
contributions on modernist and Imagist literature in a similar vein, perhaps
reviews of recent critical or historical works, or reappraisals of existing
works. Focusing on RA, I would like to start a series in which members write
about either their favourite piece of work by RA, or about an aspect of his
life or work which has received little attention and about which you think
others should know. As ever, any contributions are greatly appreciated to the
address at the top of this newsletter.