interplay1
  • Oxford University Press
  • Published: 10th April 1997
  • Agent: James Wills

Interplay: Kind of Commonplace Book

D.J. Enright (Estate)

A “commonplace book,” must, by its very nature, be unique, a mixture of personal, critical, playful, and profound musings. In Interplay, the noted critic and poet D. J. Enright has arranged and expanded his jottings, thoughts, observations, and impressions from over the years, resulting in a moving, lucid, and inviting mixture of autobiography and commentary.

Much of what Enright shares concerns literary matters: the eccentricities of reviewing; the reductiveness of current fiction; reflections on modern biography; the necessity and impossibility of censorship; irony and sentimentality; treason among intellectuals; linguistic hanky-panky; literary theory and literary practice (Proust versus Paul de Man); and some of his new poetry. Interspersed are such fascinating asides as a layman’s look at Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, and Barthes; curious points of theology; an account of racial stereotypes, their use and limitations; ars erotica ancient and modern; sidelights on Chinese and Japanese thought; the obsolete notion of integrity in politics and business; and dreams in life and literature.

To all of these questions and subjects Enright brings his inimitable style and manner, as well as varying moods–sad, humorous, ironic–bound together by his overwhelming humanism that makes life and literature inseparable. This is a brilliant book, full of wit, insight, and intriguing miscellany, one that serves as an eclectic self-portrait of a leading literary mind and a very telling account of modern attitudes and life as we know it.

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