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Monday, October 24, 2005

"Their Ancient Glittering Eyes": Passion of the Old Guys

What William Hazlitt named gusto, "power or passion defining any object," and found foremost in Shakespeare, he assigned to Boccaccio and Rabelais above all other prose writers. Hazlitt also urged us to realize that the arts are not progressive--a realization that belated ages, like our own, attempt to resist.

--Bloom, "Elegiac Conclusion," The Western Canon

The infinite quantity of dramatic invention in Shakespeare takes from his gusto. The power he delights to show is not intensive, but discursive. He never insists on anything as much as he might, except a quibble. Milton has great gusto. He repeats his blows twice; grapples with and exhausts his subject. His imagination has a double relish of its objects, an inveterate attachment to the things he describes, and to the words describing them.

--Hazlitt, "On Gusto," 1816

I look forward to reading the book--old-time critics like Mr. Rubin always have something worthwhile to say.

--from a letter by a novelist & penpal

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.