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Spell
by
Michael Wallerstein
with a Preface by
Ian Robinson

ISBN 978 0 9567048 3 2
50 pp. paperback
demy 8vo £4.80


Spell is the third and last of a series of short books in which Mr Wallerstein defends English against a “loss of linguistic resource” inseparable from the cultural collapse of the last thirty or so years.
     English prose has become much less expressive and coherent, as he demonstrated in Dear Mr Howard. Lexical and grammatical incorrectness in speech is shown, in The Liza Doolittle Syndrome, to be a failure to make sense.
     Now Spell takes on the spelling reformers who say that English spelling is chaotic and needs to be made more simply phonetic. Wallerstein demonstrates that this view comes from a drastically simplified idea of what spelling and punctuation do, and ignores the graphically informative nature of the system—another way of missing linguistic resource.
     The three booklets together constitute a defence of English in our time, that is, of whatever possibility we may have of making sense in our own language.
     They may be had for £4.80 each post free or the set of three post free only from this website for £10.00: to order go to
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  • “He has a sharp eye for orthographic patterns
    . . . and impressive convictions concerning the underlying rules of the written language.”—TLS


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    Who Killed the Bible?
    by
    Ian Robinson

    second edition, with a new concluding chapter
    “The English Bible and the Idea of a Christian Society”

    ISBN 978 0 907839 87 3
    xii + 136 pp A5 paperback £9.60

    Mr Robinson’s argument, that all recent English translations of the Bible go wrong because they put into practice both mistaken theories and a mistaken notion of theory, needs to be followed in detail. This much-revised second edition concludes with a new chapter about the relation of the English Bible to the nation. It should be read in conjunction with the downloadable essay “Is the Bible a Book?” listed in the third column on this page.

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    Paperback editions of Christopher Morgan's two collections

    The Fire Jump
    and Other Poems


    and

    Stalking the A4

    From the cover of the latter:

    Especially in the twenty-first century it is not faint praise to call a writer a supreme master of the iambic pentameter, and Morgan's fluency in other forms is amazing. But Christopher Morgan should not be offered as a poets' poet, to be relished only by connoisseurs of verse: these poems are moving and funny as well as immediatey appealing.

    For the new edition of The Fire Jump Morgan has included one new poem, discarded the French and Spanish poems, and revised and re-ordered the whole collection.

    Stalking the A4
    978 0 9567048 1 8
    60 pp. demy 8vo £6.00

    The Fire Jump & Other Poems
    978 0 9559996 6 6
    85 pp. demy 8vo £6.00

    To order one or both go to
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    The St Peter’s
    Chant Book

    compiled and arranged by
    David Wulstan

    This handy-sized volume, made for the choir of St Peter’s College, Oxford, has settings for all the chants of the Matins and Evensong of the Book of Common Prayer. The Psalms are organised by days, as in that Book, and there is a range of alternatives for the Te Deum, Benedictus, Benedicite, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis and Easter Anthems / Venite. Composers come from all the centuries of Anglican chant and include no less than four Purcells.
         Professor Wulstan is perhaps the only living scholar distinguished both as a Hebraist, a musicologist and a conductor—he founded and for many years conducted the Clerkes of Oxenford, the pioneers of authentic performance of Tudor church music—but is also an experienced church organist and has a good idea of what choirs and congregations are likely to be able to sing well. His advice about phrasing and pointing is practical as well as authoritative.
         The Introduction gives a succinct account of the development of Anglican chant and its relation to the original Hebrew of the Psalms, together with some useful Notes for Musical Directors. A version of this Intro-duction appeared in Faith & Worship 69, Michaelmas 2011, and can be read on the Prayer Book Society website.
         Any musically literate person following the Prayer Book custom of reading through the Psalms once a month could for a change enjoy using this book to sing them, but its most likely users are church and college choirs or choir-led congregations. Any choirmaster or church-warden ordering ten or more copies may have a discount on the already low price: please email us to inquire or to request a specimen copy.
    pp. x + 36
    ISBN 978 0 9567048 2 5
    10.2 x 7.2 inches ringbound, £8.00 post free

    to order go to
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    Directors Brian Lee (chairman)
    Ian Robinson (secretary)
    Michael DiSanto      Duke Maskell

    Since 1970 we have been publishing criticism, fiction, poetry, theology, politics. Our list shows that what Matthew Arnold called criticism of life can still flourish.

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    copyright © 2014 Michael Wallerstein

    British and American Style
    a letter to the TLS

    Dear Sir,
    Glyn Paflin’s review of the New Hart’s Rules (OUP) in the TLS no. 5827, page 26, calls for some comment, as he seems to me to betray some classic misconceptions about language and linguistic change. In particular are the remarks to do with the differences between “British and American style”, as Mr Paflin terms it, and where he notes that “American English is always making inroads in Britain”, citing especially impact and appeal in connection with the “transitivity of verbs”.
         In the first place, there can be no such thing as an American, or British, style, tout court. There is a multiplicity of styles observable in both forms of English. John Steinbeck’s style is not only American but also quite distinct from that of Barack Obama; similarly, Winston Churchill’s style, I suggest, is a little different from David Cameron’s. How would one, in Mr Paflin’s words, “adapt the text” of, say, D. H. Lawrence or, indeed, Shakespeare, “to the American market”? Do Henry James, Steinbeck and, perhaps, even T. S. Eliot require “adapting” to the British market? These three all betray elements of the American variety of English; in the case of Eliot, this is very apparent in his early works: he uses masterful for masterly and, in Prufrock, has “Do I dare to eat a peach?” (British: “Dare I eat a peach?”) In his early poetry, the rhythms, and implied intonation, are decidedly not those of the British English of that period. If they no longer strike us as different, this suggests an important matter to do with my second point of issue with Mr Paflin, namely, linguistic change.
         Mr Paflin speaks of “inroads” of American English into the British variety but neither he, nor anyone else to my knowledge, appears able to perceive what these actually amount to in terms of the semantic and conceptual “substrate” of the language. Changes in language are not merely substitutions of one term for another or one grammatical structure for another but are evidence of an alteration in perception and conception. It is impossible to translate, say Shakespeare, into modern English or, rather, one of the modern Englishes, without turning his language into that of a modern speaker and thinker, thereby alienating the original.
         With respect to the matter in hand, I might draw attention to my little book Dear Mr Howard—the Changing of Modern English (2003) wherein I discuss with many examples what linguistic change in relation to English entails in terms of what is loosely called “meaning”. In this, Mr Paflin would, perhaps, see what is implied by the loss of, for example, the gerundial usage that was once a familiar aspect of British English (e.g. dressing gown, cycling cape, rocking chair, swimming trunks, sparking plugs, sorting code, waiting room, sailing boat, etc.) and its relation to the near-disappearance of non-finite clauses. In addition, American English in toto betrays remarkable semantic gaps and failures of conceptual discrimination. Why should any writer or speaker of British English wish to “translate” his or her thoughts into this—and how would he or she set about it?
                            Yours sincerely,
                                                                      D. M. Wallerstein

    P.S. Henry James’ short story, “A Bundle of Letters”, is an amusing and interestingly pithy exercise in contrasts of style in English: American (three sorts), British, French, German. James seemed to think that females of the English aristocracy were especially fond of using “nice” à tout propos. Perhaps he was drawing his stereotype from the Catherine Moreland of Northanger Abbey rather than from personal observation.




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    E-texts

    The new edition of Who Killed the Bible?, re-ordered, substantially revised and with a new concluding chapter “The English Bible and the Idea of a Christian Society”, can be had now as an e-book for £4.00.

    The reset editions of Wittgenstein on Frazer and Roger Elliott's “Discourses that Persuade . . .” can both be had as e-texts.

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    Is the Bible a Book?
    by
    Ian Robinson

    Modern scholarship tends to ignore the whole by concentrating on the parts and their origins. This essay shows that the Bible can be one book only if the New Testament is allowed to read the Old Testament.

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    F. R. Leavis
    the Cambridge Don

    by
    Ian Robinson

    An extensively revised talk previously published in an abridged form in
    The Use of English

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    Every Literature Helps
    Presidential Address
    to the Leicester Theological Society
    by
    Duncan Campbell OP

    How literature does good is one of the great questions raised by all serious readers and unlikely to receive a definitive answer. Also, the world’s literature is very extensive. So to survey it in an hour’s lecture, organised around the question (asked from the point of view of a Christian priest) how literature helps, is to undertake at least two daunting tasks at once. Fr Campbell does so jauntily and as a critic with fresh responses to some wonderful works. Because this is genuine criticism it invites replies of the form “yes, but”. The memorable remark on the damnation of the leading characters in Wuthering Heights would be even better if extended to include the self-righteous Nelly Dean. The deepest insight in Bleak House is surely not about renunciation of the beloved but about forgiveness. (On which theme we see the notice about The Comedy of Forgiveness in column 1.) And so on. Here, that is, is a treatment of real questions that deserves attention and discussion—as a new demonstration that literary criticism is a non-scientific non-methodical form of thought.

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    Poetry in the New Matrix
    The Poet Laureate
    and the Bane
    by
    Brian Lee

    This thirty-two page pamphlet continues the series that includes Poetry and the System with some reflections on recent events and their bearing on the state of poetry and our common life.
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    Translation
    vs
    Paraphrase

    by
    A. C. Capey

    Mr Capey’s long-promised criticism of twentieth-century Bible translations


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    Memories
    of
    F. R. Leavis
    by
    David Matthews

    Mr Matthews’s memories of more than sixty years, going back to the great days of Downing, are a fresh testimony to the greatest English critic of modern times.
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