Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A David Lambuth sampler

David Lambuth appears not to have been an especially prolific scholar. But he was an excellent writer. Here are two samples of his prose:

Every good novel is autobiography. Spiritual autobiography, not factual. That the characters are not to be identified nor the events of the story duplicated in the writer’s life is no matter. Beyond such externals we have to penetrate. When we have done that, we discover that what gives a book life is the veracity with which expresses some inner drama through which the writer has passed, the intimacy with which it renders that never-ending process by which the individual adjusts himself to the world around him. The story itself may be realism; it maybe romance; it may be high fantasy: it is again no matter. A man’s vision of life may have many phases and it may express itself in many forms, but without the individual vision, all forms fall short of that communicable vitality which we call art.

Now “The Ordeal of Richard Feverel” is quite peculiarly the record of such a vision and the record of the process by which the vision was achieved.

The first paragraphs of the introduction to George Meredith’s The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (New York: Macmillan, 1926).


In speaking of the strange work of words and metaphors in poetry, Frost himself has used the word “displacement.” At first it seems an awkward term. Then its rightness begins to grow. As we read his own poetry at its high moments, suddenly there envelops us, as it were, an awareness of having stepped into another world of an other and somehow older reality. A moment ago and we were ‘here’; now ‘there’ and ‘here’ have fallen together into a different order of space. We have been transported into the mystery which is the heart of man. It is the magic of the fourth dimension. Revolve a simple cube upon its axis and suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, a new world is born, time and space fuse.

Other poets have spoken — wisely, courageously, poignantly — about living. At its greatest, the speech of Robert Frost is not about living — it is living. This is a strange power, and in it resides the majesty of the man. Not to have felt this is not to have known his stature.

The final paragraphs of the foreword to W. B. Shubrick Clymer and Charles R. Green’s Robert Frost: A Bibliography (Amherst,MA: Jones Library, 1958).
A related post
The other little book

[Just two details that I like: the smartness of ending the the single-sentence paragraph with achieved, not vision, and the inventive image of a cube becoming a sphere.]

comments: 0