William Empson: Among the Mandarins, Volume 1

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 695 pages
0 Reviews
William Empson (1906-1984) was the foremost English literary critic of the twentieth century. He was a man of huge energy and curiosity, and a genuine eccentric who remained imperturbable in the face of all the extraordinary circumstances in which he found himself. The discovery of contraceptives in his possession by a bedmaker at Cambridge University led to his being robbed of a promised Fellowship. YetSeven Types of Ambiguity(1930), drafted while he was still an undergraduate, promptly brought him world-wide fame.

Empson invented modern literary criticism in English. He acted too as a cultural fifth-columnist, challenging received doctrine in life and literature. "It is a very good thing for a poet...to be saying something which is considered very shocking at the time," he maintained. "To become morally independent of one's formative society...is the grandest theme of all literature, because it is the only means of moral progress."

His public life took him through many of the major political events of the modern world--the rise of imperialism in Japan, the Sino-Japanese war in China, wartime propaganda for the BBC, and the Chinese civil war and Communist takeover of Peking in 1949. His friends and critical sparring partners included I. A. Richards, Kathleen Raine, J. B. S. Haldane, Humphrey Jennings, George Orwell, Robert Lowell, Dylan Thomas, Stephen Spender, Helen Gardner, and T. S. Eliot.

"It is of great importance now that writers should try to keep a certain world-mindedness," he insisted. "Without the literatures you cannot have a sense of history, and history is like the balancing-pole of the tightrope-walker...; and nowadays we very much need the longer balancing-pole of not national but world history." His passionate world-mindedness, and his humanism, combativeness, and wit, are fully in evidence in this, the first of two volumes exploring his remarkable life and work.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Related books

Other editions - View all

References to this book

Some Versions of Empson
Matthew Bevis
No preview available - 2007

References from web pages

Biography: William Empson.(William Empson: Among the Mandarins ...
(William Empson: Among the Mandarins, vol. 1)(Brief article)(Book review). Gross, John. Empson, William. William Empson. Vol. I: Among the Mandarins. ...
findarticles.com/ p/ articles/ mi_hb032/ is_200603/ ai_n18829268/ print

William Empson: A Biography and a Letters Collection - Books ...
... (and selecting from) his prolific correspondence and completing a two-volume biography, of which “William Empson: Among the Mandarins” is Volume 1. ...
www.nytimes.com/ 2006/ 09/ 10/ books/ Burt3.t.html?ref=review

【楽天市場】William Empson: Among the Mandarins:楽天ブックス
William Empson: Among the Mandarins(William Empson: Among the Mandarins) ... タイトル:William Empson: Among the Mandarins:WILLIAM EMPSON V01(William ...
item.rakuten.co.jp/ book/ 4769158/

Untitled
William Empson: Among the Mandarins. John Haffenden. Oxford: Oxford. UP, 2006. 695 pp. $49.95. “The British critic and biographer John Haffenden has devoted ...
muse.jhu.edu/ journals/ biography/ v029/ 29.4reviewed_elsewhere.pdf

2007-09-29 - 今日から四百
その辺の事情は、最近届いた、分厚い二巻本の伝記にもちゃんと書いてありました。 William Empson: Among The Mandarins (William Empson) ...
d.hatena.ne.jp/ shintak/ 20070929

About the author (2005)


Currently Head of Department at the University of Sheffield, John Haffenden was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Oxford University, and began his teaching career at H. M. Prison, Oxford. He has received awards from the Authors' Foundation of the Society of Authors and the British Academy, and has been a British Academy Research Reader and a Leverhulme Research Fellow. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an elected founding Fellow of the English Association.

Bibliographic information