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Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Hardback (224 pages)
(Pub. Jan 1992)
When he was twenty, C. H. Sisson found himself in Hitler's Germany, and a year later in Paris. He was brought face-to-face with a realty of politics largely ignored by English radicals of the 1930s. He returned home at once more European and more vividly aware of the implications of being British, and specifically, English.
In English Perspectives Sisson presents half a century's reflection on politics. He pursues his early concerns through decades in which he developed an unusual combination of interests. Commitment to the continuance of the English tradition is an essential part of his work as a poet, translator and critic, as well as in such book as The Spirit of British Administration with some European Comparisons and The Case of Walter Bagehot, which addressed subjects overtly political.
A review of The Spirit of British Administration spoke of its 'agnosticism and empiricism', describing it as a 'brilliant attack on the theoreticians'. Sisson does not write on politics from the library or classroom but from years of work in Whitehall and first-hand acquaintance with government offices in a number of European countries. The centrality of this to the debate about Europe needs no special emphasis.
Early essays collected here deal with matters surprisingly relevant to present controversies. One from 1940 wryly explores 'The Argument for Federal Union'. There are essays one the operation of government machinery abroad which throw more light on the subject than current public discussins on the EEC. Sisson stresses throughout those aspects of British practice which have importance beyond the immediate battles of the day.
Praise for C.H. Sisson `His poems move in service of the loved landscapes of England and France; they sing (and growl) in love of argument, in love of seeing through, in love of the firm descriptions of moral self-disgust; they move in love of the old lost life by which the new life is condemned.'
Donald Hall, New York Times Book Review 'I think he is worth a place on the short shelf reserved for the finest twentieth-century poets, with Eliot and Rilke and MacDiarmid.'
Robert Nye, the Scotsman
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