Tuesday, November 18, 2008

`The Gristle of Conscience'

Dave Lull passes along a link to Craig Raine’s fine, cranky review of Zbigniew Herbert’s The Collected Poems in the Telegraph. Here’s a sample:

“And why did Herbert not succumb to communism's high-minded ideal of equality like so many 20th-century intellectuals, like Milosz, like Aragon, like Picasso, like Sartre? Was it because -- Brodsky's empty brag -- he saw through the system at the age of nine? No, it was because communism offended his taste. It was vulgar. And his taste was snobbish and `rightly’ so, as he records in `The Power of Taste’: none of the Nobel characteristics were needed:

“`It did not take any great character
our refusal dissent and persistence
we had a scrap of necessary courage
but essentially it was a matter of taste
Yes taste
which has fibres of soul and the gristle of conscience.’”

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