Brendan Barrington

Life
American born of N. Ireland parents; acted as editor for Lilliput Press (prop. Anthony Farrell); estab. The Dublin Review, acquiring older title for new venture; commissioning editor for Penguin (Ireland); lives in flat on Mountjoy Square.

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Works
‘Literary Cliques and their Organs’, review of Jason Harding, The Criterion: cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Inter-war Britain, in The Irish Times (5 Oct. 2002).

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Quotations
Literary Cliques and their Organs’, review of Jason Harding, The Criterion: cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Inter-war Britain, in The Irish Times (5 Oct. 2002). Barrington quotes Louis MacNeice: ‘The eclectic is usually impotent; the alternative to eclecticism is clique-literature. The best poets of today belong to, and write for, cliques.’ (No source.) Also quotes Geoffrey Grigson, looking back at his own journal New Verse in 1950 and praising it for avoiding ‘that dotty inclusiveness, that mental masturbation, which has come to be the character of our “little magazines”; further, in 1980: ‘There is no excuse for such a magazine unless it promulgates the strong message of a new clique or group’. Reflecting on the place of political opinion, Eliot wrote [here quoted in two places]: ‘To be perpetually in change and development, to alter with the alterations of the living minds associated with it and iwth the phases of the contemporary world for which and in which it lives: on this condition only should a literary review be tolerated (Criterion, Jan. 1927). ‘It is a trait of the present time that every “literary” review worth its salt has a political interest: indeed that only in the literary reviews which are not the conscientious organs of superannuated political creeds, are there any living political ideas.’ Barrington remarks: ‘There is still some truth in this, and though the cultural and political influence of little magazines is surely much diminished, there is less cause for nostaglia than we might imagine. Reading an old copy of The Bell or a Partisan Review anthology can be a strangely dispiriting experience. / Even so, the idea of perpetual decline retains its force in literary journalism, and an editor’s commitment to the new is almost always, in fact, a commitment to a vague but powerful notion of the old. Unlike most editors, Eliot understood this very well. [END].’ Barrington holds that Harding’s book shows, in a roundabout, ungraceful way, that none managed to hold a consistent political or artistic line; all of them contradicted themselves; all of them turned on their friends and embraced their former enemies’.

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Notes
The Dublin Review offices off Fenian St., share house with Molly McCloskey.

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