Bysshe Inigo Coffey
Adam Roberts’s monograph is the first serious attempt to recuperate Walter Savage Landor’s “vanishing reputation” in around fifty years. This is not an easy task. T. S. Eliot described Landor as one of the early nineteenth century’s “very finest poets,” but unfortunately, Eliot’s lavish judgement failed to inspire any serious critical revaluation of Landor. Roberts accepts that Landor is not “a poet of Shelleyan or Keatsian brilliance.” His “prodigious” and uneven output—some of it, as Roberts admits, is undeniably boring—ranges from lyric, epic, drama, to the Imaginary Conversations.
Also there’s the Latin to contend with. For today’s student the centrality of Latin to Landor’s work might seem a rather formidable obstacle, but Roberts’s guidance is light, sound, and inviting. Furthermore, any would-be reader has to deal with what Donald Davie (in a short essay on the short poems) called the “bewildering insecurity of tone” that...more