Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of The Indicator and Companion,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 237-238


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[page 237, continued:]

WILEY & PUTNAMS LIBRARY OF CHOICE READING. NO. XX. THE INDICATOR AND COMPANION. BY LEIGH HUNT. PART II.

[Text: Broadway Journal, Aug. 30, 1845.]

THIS volume contains some two or three papers which are worth preserving — which have in them the elements of life — and which will leave a definite and perhaps a permanent impression upon every one who reads them In general, however, it is made up of that species of easy writing which is not the easiest reading. We find here too much of slipshodiness, both in thought and manner, and too little of determined purpose. The tone is not that of a bold genius uttering vigorous filings carelessly and inconsiderately, with contempt or neglect of method or completeness, but rather that of a naturally immethodical and inaccurate intellect, making a certain air of ruggedness and insouciance the means of exalting the commonplace into the semblance of originality and strength. Hunt has written many agreeable papers, but no great ones. [page 238:] His points will bear no steady examination. The view at first taken of him by the public is far nearer the truth, perhaps, than that which seems to have been latterly adopted. His “Feast of the Poets” is possibly his best composition. As a rambling essayist he has too little of the raw material. As a critic he is merely saucy, or lackadaisical, or falsely enthusiastic, or at best pointedly conceited. His judgment is not worth a rush — witness his absurd eulogies on Coleridge’s “Pains of Sleep” quoted in the volume before us. In his “Remarks upon (on) De Basso’s Ode to a Dead Body,” he has said critically some of the very best things it ever occurred to him to say; but if there be need to show the pure imbecility and irrelevancy of the paper as a criticism, let it only be contrasted with what a truly critical spirit would write. The highest literary quality of Hunt is a secondary or tertiary grade of Fancy. His loftiest literary attainment is to entertain. This is precisely the word which suits his case. As for excitement we must not look for it in him. And, unhappily, his books are not of such character that they may be taken up, with pleasure, (as may the “Spectator,”) by a mind exhausted through excitement. In this condition we require repose — which is the antipode of the style of hunt. And since for the ennuyé he has insufficient stimulus, it is clear that as an author he is fit for very little, if really for anything at all.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of The Indicator and Companion)