Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Dolan on Hughes

Simply had to link John Dolan's masterful defence of the much-maligned Ted Hughes over at the eXiled. Money quote:

Odd, then, that they are determined to ignore their best man. It can’t just be the fact that he took the laureateship, because here again we hit that strange double standard, finding hosts of English poets who took the stinking money and kept their reputations. (Everybody thought Andrew Motion’s zippy poem on the wedding of Prince Whatever-His-Name-Is was just Cool Britannia Bananas.) Something else is at work here, and in the best English tradition you don’t have a hope of hearing the real reason. Instead you get their usual display of misdirection plays, the old conjurers. Craig Raine recently published an odd, grannyish un-appreciation of Hughes accusing him of being less than forthcoming about his vile lusts.
It seems Hughes liked to have sex with women. Granted, this places him well outside the main stream of British literary life, but I had not been aware it was actually considered a crime, especially when placed in historical context. Hughes was, after all, the pre-eminent British poet of the 1960s, and there are rumors that during this period, there was a certain amount of sexual license in both American and British literary circles. Surely Mr. Raine has heard of these rumors, in that he himself was one of Hughes’s rivals for poetic prominence during that era? Not that he himself could possibly have been involved in such antics.

The eXiled is now, it seems, in some financial difficulty, and if it were to close I would think it a great pity, because it, and the eXile before it, represent the only remaining wide-ranging independent alternative voice outside of art or academia. John Dolan himself is a highly opinionated author with whom I disagree often, and strongly, but his writing deserves support, as does that of the rest of the eXiled writers - give if you can.

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