Enemies of Promise

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University of Chicago Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 265 pages

“Whom the gods wish to destroy,” writes Cyril Connolly, “they first call promising.” First published in 1938 and long out of print, Enemies of Promise, an “inquiry into the problem of how to write a book that lasts ten years,” tests the boundaries of criticism, journalism, and autobiography with the blistering prose that became Connolly’s trademark. Connolly here confronts the evils of domesticity, politics, drink, and advertising as well as novelists such as Joyce, Proust, Hemingway, and Faulkner in essays that remain fresh and penetrating to this day.

“A fine critic, compulsive traveler, and candid autobiographer. . . . [Connolly] lays down the law for all writers who wanted to count. . . . He had imagination and decisive images flashed with the speed of wit in his mind.”—V. S. Pritchett, New York Review of Books

“Anyone who writes, or wants to write, will find something on just about every single page that either endorses a long-held prejudice or outrages, and that makes it a pretty compelling read. . . . You end up muttering back at just about every ornately constructed pensée that Connolly utters, but that’s one of the joys of this book.”—Nick Hornby, The Believer

“A remarkable book.”—Anthony Powell
 

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Contents

The Next Ten Years
3
The Mandarin Dialect
9
The Challenge to the Mandarins
17
The Modern Movement
25
Anatomy of Dandyism
33
A Beast in View
40
The New Mandarins
45
The New Vernacular
58
The Charlocks Shade
112
The Slimy Mallows
117
Outlook Unsettled
127
A GEORGIAN BOYHOOD
139
Credentials
141
The Branching Ogham
143
White Samite
159
Dark Ages
178

The Cool Element of Prose
73
Part Two THE CHARLOCKS SHADE
83
The Blighted Rye
85
The Blue Bugloss
91
The Thistles
96
The Poppies
105
Renaissance
190
The Background of the Lilies
214
Glittering Prizes
226
XXr7 Vale
241
Index
263
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Cyril Connolly (1903–74) was one of the most influential critics of his time, who wrote for such publications as the New Statesman, the Observer, and the Sunday Times. He is the author of many books, including The Rock Pool and The Unquiet Grave.