Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Isaac Rosenberg

Strongly recommended --- despite its credit-crunching price --- is Vivien Noakes's edition of Isaac Rosenberg's work in the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series. Noakes is an exemplary editor, as her variorum edition of Rosenberg's poetry demonstrates. Now she collects in one volume the entirety of Rosenberg's surviving writings (poetry, plays, prose essays, letters), as well as plates of Rosenberg's sketches and paintings. I will be reviewing the book in more detail for the Friends of the Dymock Poets.

Noakes is so thorough that she even restores the excisions of the censor. Here is an extract from a letter to Edward Marsh on 26 January 1918, where my square brackets mark the sentences which the censor saw fit to delete:

I am back in the trenches which are terrible now. We spend most of our time pulling each other out of the mud. I am not fit at all now and am more in the way than any use. You see I appear in excellent health and a doctor will make no distinction between health and strength. I am not strong. [What is happening to me now is more tragic than the 'passion play'. Christ never endured what I endure. It is breaking me completely.] What has happened to your Life of Rupert Brooke. Is it out yet. I suppose you are kept very busy.


  1. Are you allowed to say 'credit-crunching'?

  2. If you're lucky enough at the moment to be in credit, £50 RRP for one book might well crunch it.

  3. I splashed out last year, although I have yet to read it, which is silly.

    You've just prompted me to move it from the shelf to my beside table!

  4. A fondness for material on the British war poets is becoming an expensive taste as not only are the new texts very pricey but the second hand prices of basic things like Gurney's letters (superbly concrete about the actual routines of life in the trenches as well as everything else) are sky-high.

    This is my first contribution to your blog, Tim, and I want to say how excellent it is.

  5. Thank you, Nick! This is advance warning that the 3-volume edition of Gurney (which I'm editing with Philip Lancaster) won't be out until 2012, but if you want it you'd better start saving up!