Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century's Most Enjoyable Books by British literary critic John Carey is delightful from beginning to end. Each article is about three pages long, so it is an ideal book for dipping into in an idle moment.
Carey includes novels, short stories, poetry, memoirs, criticism and books translated into English -- in short, any book that induces pure pleasure.
He made me want to read these three poetry collections. Here are some of the comments that caught my attention:
- on W.B. Yeats: Collected Poems: "Why one of our supreme poetic masters should have needed the help of beliefs that would disgrace a fairground fortune-teller is a question that takes us to the heart of the modern poet's predicament."
- on Thomas Hardy's poetry collection: Satires of Circumstance: "Melodiousness is exiled too. It is replaced...by intricate metrical variations that control your reading as surely as a hand on your throat."
- on A.E. Housman: Collected Poems: "The choice of short, common words implies suppression of the ego. Splendour is shunned. Yet there is also something majestic about wielding such power while scarcely seeming to lift a finger."