Spring 1984 • Vol. VI No. 2 Book Reviews |

The Augustan Idea

The Augustan Idea in English Literature by Howard Erskine-Hill. London: Edward Arnold, 1983. xvi + 379 pages. $64.50. Most people have better things to do than argue about such terms as "Baroque" and "Augustan"—to propose some correct usage for them and then to restrict their employment to a particular and limited period. It is, however, a rational and useful activity to inquire into the ways in which historical persons used such expressions of their own times. The interest attaching to talk of renewal and rebirth in fifteenth-century Italy is different in kind from that inspired by the "Renaissance" of nineteenth-century historians. Dr. Erskine-Hill is rightly concerned with the first kind of inquiry, though of course he wishes everybody would try to understand the complex nature of the term "Augustan" and use it with some respect for its array of possible senses. It will be news to no one that the conventional labeling of the period 1660-1800 as "Augustan" is nonsensical, an

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Robert Musil

By Frank Kermode

The Augustan Idea in English Literature by Howard Erskine-Hill. London: Edward Arnold, 1983. xvi + 379 pages. $64.50. Most people have better things to do than argue about such terms […]

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