Love and Criticism: Is There Any Relation?

"Look Back in Anger": Mary Ure & Alan Bates, 1956
Mary Ure, Alan Bates: “Look Back in Anger,” 1956

By Nancy Huntting

Introductory Note:  I’m glad to post an important talk by my colleague, Nancy Huntting, which was first presented at an Aesthetic Realism public seminar.  It includes a new, revelatory understanding of the central characters in John Osborne’s famous play “Look Back in Anger.”  –  Anne Fielding

In Aesthetic Realism classes I had the honor to attend with Eli Siegel, I was seen truly, with critical depth, kindness, and cultural largeness. In one class, Mr. Siegel asked me: “What did you condemn yourself most for at various times?”

Nancy Huntting:  For wanting to do nothing.

Eli Siegel:  Have the read the poem “The Lotus Eaters” of Tennyson? Were they Hunttingish?  And the desire not to be bothered is in Keats’ “Ode to Indolence.”

I was learning that through studying these works I could understand myself and others! And then he asked something which surprised me very much — ”Did you also get very angry?” I had cultivated a quiet manner, and didn’t like seeing myself as angry, but what immediately came to my mind was the time I threw a book at Mr. Morrison, and the many times I yelled cruel things at my mother.  How did Mr. Siegel know?  He explained: “People who have indolence can also tear up the place.” He composed this bold, dignified, humorous couplet I love, enabling me to have pleasure seeing the relation of two things that so troubled me:

Excessive indolence and a tendency to wrath,
That is what Nancy Huntting hath.

Is Our Anger in Behalf of True Criticism–or Ourselves Narrowly?

Something like the relation of indolence and anger that was in me is in the young wife, Alison Porter, in John Osborne’s play “Look Back in Anger.” This play is courageous in showing how unkind a woman can be when she’s after her own importance with a man, and doesn’t give a damn for understanding him or encouraging what is best in him….more

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