''Prose on certain occasions can bear a great deal of poetry; on the other hand, poetry sinks and swoons under a moderate weight of prose.''All quotations
an English writer and poet. His best known works were the prose Imaginary Conversations, and the poem Rose Aylmer, but the critical acclaim he received from contemporary poets and reviewers was not matched by public popularity. As remarkable as his work was, it was equaled by his rumbustious character and lively temperament.
Summary of his work
In a long and active life of eighty-nine years Landor produced a considerable amount of work in various genres. This can perhaps be classified into four main areas – prose, lyric poetry, political writings including epigrams and Latin. His prose and poetry have received most acclaim, but critics are divided in their preference between them.
Landor’s prose is best represented by the Imaginary Conversations. He drew on a vast array of historical characters from Greek philosophers to contemporary writers and composed conversations between pairs of characters that covered areas of philosophy, politics, romance and many other topics. These exercises proved a more successful application of Landor’s natural ability for writing dialogue than his plays. Although these have many quotable passages the overall effect suffered because he never learned the art of drama.
Landor wrote much sensitive and beautiful poetry. The love poems were inspired by a succession of female romantic ideals – Ione, Ianthe, Rose Aylmer and Rose Paynter. Equally sensitive are his “domestic” poems about his sister and his children.
In the course of his career Landor wrote for various journals on a range of topics that interested him from anti-Pitt politics to the unification of Italy. He was also a master of the epigram which he used to good effect and wrote satirically to avenge himself on politicians and other people who upset him.
Landor wrote over three hundred Latin poems, political tracts and essays, but these have generally been ignored in the collections of his work. Landor found Latin useful for expressing things that might otherwise have been “indecent or unattractive” as he put it and as a cover for libellous material. Fellow classical scholars of the time put Landor’s Latin work on a par with his English writing.
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