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I was talking with [profile] astralpoet about pretentious language in poetry and I remembered this piece from Flann O'Brien, a long ago columnist for the Irish Times, on pretentious gits who review poetry (he also had a few comments about pretentious gits in poetry) and I decided to post it her in her honour: 

"Pedantic old gentleman that I am, I received a lot of annoyance a few weeks ago and it is only now that I have stopped fuming that I can sit (down) and write about it (in cold blood).  I look into that alien print, 'The Sunday Times', and see that my friend Desmond MacCarthy is discussing Mr. Eliot's latest thing, 'Little Gidding'. Explaining the title of the book, Mr. MacCarthy writes as follows:-

'Little Gidding is, of course, the name of a lonely spot not far from Peterborough, where Nicholas Ferrar and his few followers in the reign of Charles I built a small plain chapel in which to worship undisturbed...'

Now in the whole underworld of print there is surely no more gratuitous or insulting phrase than that 'of course'. Why 'of course'?  Probably there aren't in the whole world more than a thousand people who had ever heard of Little Gidding, and I resent, on my own behalf and on behalf of the civilised circle to which I belong, the suggestion that everybody is aware of this unimportant statistic. It's like saying 'Mr. T S Eliot, of course, wears his boots when taking a bath.'"

Well, I think it's funny.  And one of these days I will spam you all with his advice to steam men.  Plenty of good stuff about poppet valves there.


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August 2011

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