Critique

Allan Massie salutes Sir Walter Scott, master of historical fiction and author of among others, Rob Roy and Waverley

Britain’s most distinguished literary critic, who turned 90 last year, has many achievements to be proud of. But does the indefatigable grand old man of EngLit ever regret his role in promoting Deconstructivism, thereby unleashing a tide that he couldn’t stem?

As anti-Thatcher literature blossomed in the 1980s, it was tempting to argue that the Right had won the economic war and the Left had won the cultural war. But the real victors of the past 30 years are blaring populists, ignorant and proud of it. 

Thomas Hardy and T.S. Eliot are the two greatest 20th-century poets in the English language, despite what they may have thought of one another. It is remarkable that the readers of Hardy’s fiction remain unaware that his poems are far more affecting than any of his novels

The plays of Friedrich Schiller can guide us, or offer a guide to self-guidance, so that we may preserve our freedoms in the face of conflicting moral imperatives

We in the Western World have moved on from Christianity to worship the pagan gods of power, money, sex and fame

Dr Johnson, the greatest writer of critical prose in the English language, was able to impart to his readers both human nature in general, and the character of Englishness in particular

Susan Neiman’s reading of the Enlightenment is certainly distinctive, but also offers a courageous and uplifting attempt to tell the story as it is

Abandoning narrative form in history writing leads to laziness, the omission of important facts, and a flimsier understanding of cause and effect. Why doesn’t the OUP know that?

Why Atlas Shrugged, the libertarian’s bible, is back in the bestseller lists