Christopher Ricks teaches at Boston University in the Core Curriculum and the Editorial Institute and is a former president of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers. From 2004 to 2009 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. His recent books include True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound and Decisions and Revisions in T.S. Eliot.

IN THE REVIEW

Good Unclean Fun

A colored engraving of a couple in bed from Miracles de Notre Dame, fifteenth century

The Fabliaux

translated from the Old French by Nathaniel E. Dubin, with an introduction by R. Howard Bloch
“Restricted: Language.” Meaning that what you are about to watch is not a silent film? No, a movie with a blue streak. What is a fabliau, exactly? The French dictionary says simply that it is a medieval story in verse, “popular in character, most often satiric.” But “broadly” may be …

In Support of the Author

Sweet Tooth

by Ian McEwan
UK LAUNCHES APPRENTICE SPY PROGRAM LONDON—How’s this for a job title: secret agent’s apprentice? The British government is recruiting teenage apprentice spies and codebreakers without university degrees in a bid to deepen the talent pool of its intelligence services for the era of cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare. The Foreign Secretary William …

Philip Larkin: Desired Reading

Philip Larkin, 1974

The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin

edited and with an introduction and commentary by Archie Burnett
Those of us who have often invoked the great phrase of Keats—“the true voice of feeling”—have no less often been told that we are naive, since social and political contingencies mean that there is no such thing. Nevertheless, the true voice of feeling was what Philip Larkin sought and found, or rather the true voices.

Mixing Mystery and Ingenuity

Detail from The Ramsey Psalter, Anglo-Saxon illuminated manuscript, late tenth century

The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation

edited by Greg Delanty and Michael Matto,
Here are 123 Anglo-Saxon poems, written between the middle of the fifth and the middle of the eleventh century, newly translated by seventy-three poets at the invitation of the poet Greg Delanty and the scholar Michael Matto.1 We can savor immediately one of the kinds of rare thing at …

Undermining Keats

Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne in Jane Campion’s film Bright Star, 2009

Bright Star

a film written and directed by Jane Campion
The Jane Campion film Bright Star, about the love that John Keats and Fanny Brawne had for one another (more particularly about the love that she had for him), does indeed exercise its imagination. Yet it does not truly exercise ours. This is because the film is mistaken to …

Keats’s Afterlife

The poet John Keats, in a painting by his friend Joseph Severn, who nursed him in Rome until his death from tuberculosis in February 1821. Severn said of this portrait, ‘This was the time he first fell ill & had written the Ode to the Nightingale on the morning of my visit to Hampstead. I found him sitting with the two chairs as I have painted him & was struck with the first real symptoms of sadness in Keats so finely expressed in that poem.’

Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography

by Stanley Plumly
Rome, November 30, 1820. John Keats, who at the age of twenty-five has less than three months to live, is writing to his friend Charles Brown in England: I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence. God knows how …

A Successful Defiance

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation

by Simon Armitage
Time, like many another governing body, hands out titles. So it is that an untitled Arthurian romance from the fourteenth century, in Middle English, has come to be known as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Well dubbed. Arise, Sir Gawain, and likewise the Green Knight. The existence of a …

The Case of the Crooked Bookman

An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets (2d Edition)

by John Carter and Graham Pollard, edited by Nicolas Barker and John Collins

A Sequel to 'An Enquiry': The Forgeries of H. Buxton Forman and T.J. Wise Re-examined

by Nicolas Barker and John Collins
Fifty years ago, two steady young men shook the literary world with a book that went under the most lethally equable of titles: An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets. John Carter and Graham Pollard were steadily brave, for their quarry was a man of crushing authority …