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Richard Aldington

Richard Aldington

[awl-ding-tuhn]
Aldington, Richard, 1892-1962, English poet and novelist. While studying at the Univ. of London, he became acquainted with Ezra Pound and H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), whom he married in 1913. He was one of the leading imagists and helped edit the Egoist, the principal imagist organ. His early poems, extraordinary in their verbal precision, were published under the title Images (1915). Images of War and Images of Desire followed in 1919, the latter marking a departure from pure imagism. Aldington's first novel, Death of a Hero (1929), was a bitter indictment of war. It was followed by The Colonel's Daughter (1931), equally biting in its satiric intent. Aldington was at his best when in an angry state of artistic and intellectual rebellion; experiments with milder satire proved less effective. After World War II he published little poetry. His most important work was in biography—Wellington (1946); Portrait of a Genius, But … (1950), a study of D. H. Lawrence; Lawrence of Arabia (1955), a harshly critical portrait of T. E. Lawrence; and Portrait of a Rebel: the Life and Work of Robert Louis Stevenson (1957).

See his autobiographical Life for Life's Sake (1941); study by N. T. Gates (1974).

Richard Aldington (born Edward Godfree Aldington July 8, 1892 – July 27, 1962) was an English writer and poet.

Aldington was best known for his World War I poetry, the 1929 novel Death of a Hero, and the controversy arising from his 1955 Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry. His 1946 biography, Wellington, was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for that year.

Early life, World War I

Aldington was born in Portsmouth and educated at Dover College and the University of London; he was unable to complete his degree because of the financial circumstances of his family. He met the poet H.D. in 1911 and they married two years later.

His poetry was associated with the Imagist group, and his work forms almost one third of the Imagists' inaugural anthology Des Imagistes (1914). At this time he was one of the poets around the proto-Imagist T. E. Hulme; Robert Ferguson in his life of Hulme portrays Aldington as too squeamish to approve of Hulme's robust approach, particularly to women. He knew Wyndham Lewis well, also, reviewing his work in The Egoist at this time, hanging a Lewis portfolio around the room and (on a similar note of tension between the domestic and the small circle of London modernists regretting having lent Lewis his razor when the latter announced with hindsight a venereal infection. Going out without a hat, and an interest in Fabian socialism, were perhaps unconventional enough for him. At this time he was also an associate of Ford Madox Hueffer, helping him with a hack propaganda volume for a government commission in 1914 and taking dictation for The Good Soldier when H.D. found it too harrowing.

In 1915 Aldington and H.D. moved within London, away from Holland Park very near Ezra Pound and Dorothy, to Hampstead, close to D. H. Lawrence and Frieda. Their relationship became strained by external romantic interests and the stillborn birth of their child. Between 1914 and 1916 he was literary editor of The Egoist.

He joined the army in 1916, was commissioned in the Royal Sussexs in 1917 and was wounded on the Western Front Aldington never completely recovered from his war experiences, and although it was prior to diagnoses of PTSD, he was likely suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Aldington and H. D. attempted to mend their marriage in 1919, after the birth of her daughter by a friend of writer D. H. Lawrence, named Cecil Gray, with whom she had become involved and lived with while Aldington was at war. However, she was by this time deeply involved in a lesbian relationship with the wealthy writer Bryher, and she and Aldington formally separated, both becoming romantically involved with other people, but they did not divorce until 1938. They remained friends, however, for the rest of their lives.

Relationship with T. S. Eliot: rise and fall

He helped T. S. Eliot in a practical way, by an introduction to the editor Bruce Richmond of the Times Literary Supplement, for which he reviewed French literature. He was on the editorial board, with Conrad Aiken, Eliot, Lewis and Aldous Huxley, of Chaman Lall's London literary quarterly Coterie published 1919-1921. With Lady Ottoline Morrell, Leonard Woolf and Harry Norton he took part in Ezra Pound's scheme to 'get Eliot out of the bank' (Eliot had a job in the international department of Lloyd's, a London bank, and well-meaning friends wanted him full-time writing poetry). This manoeuvre towards Bloomsbury came to little, with Eliot getting £50 and unwelcome publicity in the Liverpool Post, but gave Lytton Strachey an opening for mockery.

Aldington made an effort with A Fool I' the Forest (1924) to reply to the new style of poetry launched by The Waste Land. He was being published at the time, for example in The Chapbook, but clearly took on much hack work just to live. His interest in poetry waned.

His attitude towards Eliot shifted, from someone who would mind the Eliots' cat in his cottage (near Reading, Berkshire, in 1921), to a supporter of Vivienne Eliot in the troubled marriage, and the savage and jealous satirist on her husband in Stepping Heavenward (1931). By that time he had been in Paris for years, living with Brigit Patmore, and being fascinated by Nancy Cunard whom he met in 1928. After his divorce in 1938 he married Netta, née McCullough, previously Brigit's daughter-in-law as Mrs. Michael Patmore.

Later life

Death of a Hero, published in 1929 was his literary response to the war, commended by Lawrence Durrell as 'the best war novel of the epoch'. He went on to publish several works of fiction. In 1930 he published a bawdy translation of The Decameron. In 1942, having moved to the United States with his new wife Netta Patmore, he began to write biographies. The first was one of Wellington (The Duke: Being an Account of the Life & Achievements of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, 1943). It was followed by works on D. H. Lawrence (Portrait of a Genius, But..., 1950), Robert Louis Stevenson (Portrait of a Rebel, 1957), and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry, 1955).

Aldington's biography of Lawrence made many controversial assertions. He was the first to bring to public notice the fact of Lawrence's illegitimacy. He also asserted that Lawrence was homosexual, a claim that has never been born out and is not likely to be, given the fact that Lawrence lived a celibate life and that none of his close friends (of whom several were homosexual) believed him to be gay. More importantly, he attacked Lawrence as a liar and a charlatan, claims which have colored Lawrence's reputation since the publication of Aldington's book, but which were proven to be largely baseless once all the confidential government files concerning Lawrence's career had been released, proving the accuracy of Lawrence's own account. Aldington's reputation has never fully recovered from what later (and with justification) came to be seen as a venomous personal attack upon Lawrence's reputation. Many believe that Aldington's suffering in the bloodbath of Europe during World War I caused him to resent Lawrence's reputation, gained in the more minor Middle Eastern arena.

Aldington died in France on July 27, 1962, shortly after being honoured and feted in Moscow on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. His politics had in fact moved far towards the right — opinions he shared with Lawrence Durrell, a close friend since the 1950s — but he had felt shut out by the British establishment after his T. E. Lawrence book. He lived in Provence, at Montpellier and Aix-en-Provence.

On November 11th, 1985, Aldington was among 16 Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner. The inscription on the stone was written by a fellow Great War poet, Wilfred Owen. It reads: "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.

A savage style and embitterment

Aldington could write with an acid pen. The Georgian poets, who (Pound had decided) were the Imagists' sworn enemies, he devastated with the accusation of a little trip for a little weekend to a little cottage where they wrote a little poem on a little theme. He took swipes at Harold Monro, whose Poetry Review had published him and given him reviewing work. (On the other side of the balance sheet, he spent time supporting the alcoholic Monro, and others such as F. S. Flint and Frederic Manning who needed friendship.)

Alec Waugh (The Early Years) described him as embittered by the war, and offered Douglas Goldring as comparison; but took it that he worked off his spleen in novels like The Colonel's Daughter (1931), rather than letting it poison his life. His novels in fact contained thinly-veiled, disconcerting (at least to the subjects) portraits of some of his friends (Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Pound in particular), the friendship not always surviving. Lyndall Gordon characterises the sketch of Eliot in the memoirs Life for Life's Sake (1941) as 'snide'. As a young man he enjoyed being cutting about William Butler Yeats, but remained on good enough terms to visit him in later years at Rapallo.

Works

  • Images (1910 – 1915) (1915) as Images - Old and New (1916) (US)
  • The Poems of Anyte of Tegea (1916) translator
  • Images of Desire (Elkin Mathews, 1919)
  • Images of War (1919)
  • War and Love: Poems 1915-1918 (1919)
  • Greek Songs in the Manner of Anacreon (1919) translator
  • A Book of 'Characters' from Theophrastus, Joseph Hall, Sir Thomas Overbury, Nicolas Breton, John Earle
  • Hymen (Egoist Press, 1921) with H. D.
  • Medallions in Clay (1921)
  • The Good-Humoured Ladies: A Comedy by Carlo Goldoni (1922) translator, with Arthur Symons
  • Exile and other poems (1923)
  • Literary Studies and Reviews (1924) essays
  • Sturly by Pierre Custot (1924) translator
  • The Mystery of the Nativity: Translated from the Liegeois of the XVth Century (Medici Society, 1924) translator
  • A Fool I' the Forest: A Phantasmagoria (1924) poem
  • Voltaire (1925)
  • French Studies and Reviews (1926)
  • The Love of Myrrhine and Konallis: and other prose poems (1926)
  • Cyrano De Bergerac, Voyages to the Moon and the Sun (1927)
  • D. H. Lawrence: An Indiscretion (1927)
  • Letters of Madame De Sevigné (1927) translator
  • Letters Of Voltaire And Frederick The Great (1927) translator
  • Candide and Other Romances by Voltaire (1928) translator with Norman Tealby
  • Collected Poems (1928)
  • Fifty Romance Lyric Poems (1928) translator
  • Rémy De Gourmont: Selections. (1928) translator
  • Death of a Hero: A Novel (1929)
  • The Eaten Heart (Hours Press, 1929) poems
  • A Dream in the Luxembourg: A Poem (1930)
  • The Memoirs and Correspondence of Mme. D'Epinay (1930) translator
  • Euripedes' Alcestis (1930) translator
  • At All Costs (1930)
  • D. H. Lawrence: A Brief and Inevitably Fragmentary Impression (1930)
  • Last Straws (1930)
  • Medallions from Anyte of Tegea, Meleager of Gadara, the Anacreontea, Latin Poets of the Renaissance (1930) translator
  • The Memoirs of Marmontel (1930) editor, with Brigit Patmore
  • Roads to Glory (1930) stories
  • Tales from the Decameron (1930) translator
  • Two Stories (Elkin Mathews, 1930)
  • Letters to the Amazon by Rémy de Gourmont (1931) translator
  • Balls and Another Book for Suppression (1931)
  • The Colonel's Daughter: A Novel (1931)
  • Stepping Heavenward: A Record (1931) satire aimed at T. S. Eliot
  • Aurelia by Gérard de Nerval (1932) translator
  • Soft Answers (1932) five short novels
  • All Men Are Enemies: A Romance (1933)
  • Last Poems of D. H. Lawrence (1933) edited with Giuseppe Orioli
  • Poems of Richard Aldington (1934)
  • Women Must Work: A Novel (1934)
  • Artifex: Sketches And Ideas (1935) essays
  • D. H. Lawrence (1935)
  • The Spirit of Place (1935), editor, D. H. Lawrence prose anthology
  • Life Quest (1935) poem
  • Life of a Lady: A Play in Three Acts (1936) with Derek Patmore
  • The Crystal World (1937)
  • Very Heaven (1937)
  • Seven Against Reeves: A Comedy-Farce (1938) novel
  • Rejected Guest (1939) novel
  • W. Somerset Maugham; An Appreciation (1939)
  • Life for Life's Sake: Memories Of A Vanished England & A Changing World, By One Who Was Bohemian, Poet, Soldier, Novelist & Wanderer (1941) memoir
  • Poetry of the English-Speaking World (1941) anthology, editor
  • A Wreath For San Gemignano (1945) sonnets of Folgore da San Gemignano
  • A Life of Wellington: The Duke (1946)
  • Great French Romances (1946) novels by Madame De Lafayette, Choderlos De Laclos, the Abbe Prévost, Honoré de Balzac
  • Oscar Wilde Selected Works (1946) editor
  • The Romance of Casanova: A Novel (1946)
  • Complete Poems (1948)
  • Four English Portraits 1801-1851 (1948)
  • Selected Works of Walter Pater (1948)
  • Jane Austen (1948)
  • Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio (two volumes) (1949) translator
  • The Strange Life of Charles Waterton 1782-1865 (1949)
  • A Bibliography of the Works of Richard Aldington from 1915 to 1948 (1950) with Alister Kershaw
  • Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence (1950) editor
  • An Appreciation: D. H. Lawrence 1885 – 1930 (1950) also as D. H. Lawrence Portrait of a Genius But...
  • The Religion of Beauty: Selections From The Aesthetes (1950) anthology, editor
  • Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, A Lecture (Peacocks Press, 1954)
  • Lawrence L'Imposteur: T.E. Lawrence, The Legend and the Man (1954) Paris edition, later title Lawrence of Arabia, A Biographical Enquiry (1955)
  • Pinorman: Personal Recollections of Norman Douglas, Pino Orioli & Charles Prentice (1954)
  • A. E. Housman & W. B. Yeats: Two Lectures (Hurst Press, 1955)
  • Introduction to Mistral (1956)
  • Frauds (1957)
  • Portrait of a Rebel: The Life and Work of Robert Louis Stevenson (1957)
  • The Viking Book of Poetry of the English-Speaking World Volume II (1958) editor
  • Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (1960) translator with Delano Ames
  • Switzerland (1960)
  • Famous Cities of the World: Rome (1960)
  • ''A Tourist's Rome
  • Richard Aldington: Selected Critical Writing, 1928-1960 (1970) edited by Alister Kershaw
  • A Passionate Prodigality: Letters to Alan Bird from Richard Aldington, 1949-1962 (1975) edited by Miriam J. Benkovitz
  • Literary Lifelines: The Richard Aldington and Lawrence Durrell Correspondence (1981)
  • In Winter: A Poem (Typographeum Press, 1987)
  • Austria
  • France
  • Italy

References

Sources

  • Richard Aldington: An Englishman (1931) Thomas McGreevy
  • Richard Aldington by C. P. Snow
  • Richard Aldington. An Intimate Portrait (1965) by Alister Kershaw, and Frederic-Jacques Temple
  • Richard Aldington 1892-1962: A Catalogue of The Frank G. Harrington Collection of Richard Aldington and Hilda H.D. Doolittle (1973)
  • The Poetry of Richard Aldington (1974) Norman T. Gates
  • A Checklist of the Letters of Richard Aldington (1977) edited by Norman T. Gates
  • Richard Aldington, Papers from the Reading Conference. (1987) edited by Lionel Kelly
  • Richard Aldington, a biography (1989) Charles Doyle ISBN 0-8093-1566-1
  • Richard Aldington: Reappraisals (1990) edited by Charles Doyle
  • Richard Aldington: An Autobiography in Letters (1992) edited by Norman T. Gates

The Religion of Beauty

The Religion of Beauty (subtitle Selections From the Aesthetes) was a prose and poetry anthology edited by Aldington and published in 1950. Listed below are the authors Aldington included, providing insight into Aldingtons generation and tastes:

Prose

Aubrey Beardsley - Max Beerbohm - Vernon Lee - Edward MacCurdy - Fiona MacLeod - George Meredith - Alice Meynell - George Moore - William Morris - Frederick W. H. Myers - Walter Pater - Robert Ross - Dante Gabriel Rossetti - John Ruskin - John Addington Symonds - Arthur Symons - Rachel Annand Taylor - James McNeill Whistler

Poetry

William Allingham - Henry C. Beeching - Oliver Madox Brown - Olive Custance - John Davidson - Austin Dobson - Lord Alfred Douglas - Evelyn Douglas - Edward Dowden - Ernest Dowson - Michael Field - Norman Gale - Edmund Gosse - John Gray - William Ernest Henley - Gerard Manley Hopkins - Herbert P. Horne - Lionel Johnson - Andrew Lang - Eugene Lee-Hamilton - Maurice Hewlett - Edward Cracroft Lefroy - Arran and Isla Leigh - Amy Levy - John William Mackail - Digby Mackworth-Dolben - Fiona MacLeod - Frank T. Marzials - Théophile Julius Henry Marzials - George Meredith - Alice Meynell - Cosmo Monkhouse - George Moore - William Morris - Frederick W. H. Myers - Roden Noël - John Payne - Victor Plarr - A. Mary F. Robinson - William Caldwell Roscoe - Christina Rossetti - Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Algernon Charles Swinburne - John Addington Symonds - Arthur Symons - Rachel Annand Taylor - Francis Thompson - John Todhunter - Herbert Trench - John Leicester Warren, Lord de Tabley - Rosamund Marriott Watson - Theodore Watts-Dunton - Oscar Wilde - Margaret L. Woods - Theodore Wratislaw - W. B. Yeats

External links

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