Fall 1950 • Vol. XII No. 4 Book ReviewsOctober 1, 1950 |

Another Harpoon

The Enchafed Flood by W. H. Auden. Random House. $2.75 Mr. Auden derives his "romantic iconography of the sea" from a passage in Wordsworth's Prelude. The passage (which nowadays must be the best known in the poem) tells of the dream in which the poet, falling asleep by the seashore while reading Don Quixote, beholds a mysterious wanderer riding a camel and bearing a stone and a shell. The wanderer is both a Bedouin (and hence Ishmael) and Don Quixote. The stone signifies geometry or reason. The shell signifies the poetic imagination. The wanderer foretells the destruction of the children of the earth; says that he is going to bury the stone and the shell, apparently for safe keeping; and flees across the desert, looking back over his shoulder at the gathering waters of the deep. Though he admires much in romantic literature, Mr. Auden finds that from the point of view of 20th Century theology the romantic writers of the 19th Century bore the gifts of reason and imagination to a

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Richard Chase (1914-1962) was a literary critic and a Professor of English at Columbia University. He is known for his work The American Novel and Its Tradition.

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