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From the Archives: Brummelliana by William Hazlitt (1828)

We look upon Beau Brummell as the greatest of small wits. Indeed, he may in this respect be considered, as Cowley says of Pindar as “a species alone,” and as forming a class by himself. He has arrived at the very minimum of wit, and reduced it, “by happiness or pains,” to an almost invisible […]

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From the Archives: The Life of Beau Brummell (1864)

“Beau Brummell” from Eccentric Personages by W. Russell (1864) It is a solemn truth that every death-bed is the final scene of a great tragedy, though the death be a beggar’s, the bed one of straw. Yet to the human imagination the supreme catastrophe is magnified in its impressive terror when the miserable death strikingly […]

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From the Archives: The Maxims of Pelham (1828)

An Excerpt from Pelham: Or the Adventures of a Gentleman by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1828) 1.) Do not require your dress so much to fit, as to adorn you. Nature is not to be copied, but to be exalted by art. Apelles blamed Protogenes for being too natural. 2.) Never in your dress altogether desert that […]

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The Director of Imperial Pleasures: Gaius Petronius

It is not until the reign of that frustrated artist and unsurpassed egotist, Nero, that we again recognize the true dandy, so insolent in repose, embodied in the fragmentary figure of Gaius Petronius (Arbiter). Nero was particularly sensitive to the opinions of artists. Just as Seneca had exercised a benevolent influence on the young emperor, […]

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The First Literary Dandy: Plato

The first literary dandy of whom we still have record was Plato—who was unquestionably the greatest “exquisite” of his day. This will strike most modern readers as astonishing or inconceivable but it is neither for those who know their Greek. As a young man in love, he wrote epigrams to his courtesan Archaeanassa (which are […]

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Introduction: The Literary Dandy (A Special Issue)

When was man first freed from the drudgery of earning his income? And who was the first to dedicate himself to the art of living well? At what point in history did an entire leisure class of hedonistic egoists first appear? And what is dandyism after all? It is merely an excessive delight in clothes […]

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The Lighter Side: What Did Neruda Know?

We have all heard the story of an aged Pablo Neruda at a poetry reading, turning down a request to perform a poem from the earlier days of his career, citing a failing memory.  There were plenty of copies of it at hand, but the Chilean poet wouldn’t countenance anything as unprofessional as reading his […]

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A Claptrap Canon: On the Modern Canadian Poets Anthology by Zachariah Wells

Reviewed: Modern Canadian Poets: An Anthology of Poems in English. Todd Swift and Evan Jones, editors. Carcanet Press, 2010. 260 pages, $32.95   Anthologies, particularly those dedicated to presenting the poetry of a particular stretch of geopolitical space-time, are, by necessity, Procrustean beds. Thousands of poets producing work over many decades get pruned to a […]

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The Lighter Side: Happy Anniversary, AWP!

(Here’s a salute to Creative Writing programs from our poets and critics, past and present, culled from various interviews and essays.) “Abolish the M.F.A.! What a ringing slogan for a new Cato: Iowa delenda est!” – Donald Hall “We are now at the point where writing programs are poisoning, and in turn we are being poisoned […]

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The Lighter Side: How to Prepare for AWP

I have attended dozens of poetry readings. Virtually all of them were identical: • The introductions made me think I was about to witness the second coming of John Donne. • All of the “poems” were preceded by tedious, unhelpful explanations. Typically, these involved the author’s state of intoxication when they wrote this stuff or […]

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