Competition nos 50A and 50B: results

Not only does the competition reach its first half-century, The Week-end Review itself reaches the end of its first year in circulation with this edition (there were no competition reports in the first two, for the obvious reason that they were being set). If you get a chance to look at the magazine, you will find it is starting to steer an interesting course, straying quietly into social issues. Barry had done this with a little more circumspection in The Saturday Review; now he feels free to liberalise the paper. Its fit with the New Statesman and Nation is obvious in hindsight, although the WR is a little more light-hearted (a quality Kingsley Martin recognised when the takeover was negotiated in early 1934).

As with New Statesman, the ‘back half’ (the competitions remained in the centre of The Week-end Review, dividing social and political comment from literary and cultural comment) is a almost oblivious of the front half. The reviews are well-written (the reviews editor – to use a modern title –  is L.P.Hartley, as in The Go-Between), but the standards and attitudes are completely apolitical, and conservative with a small c when it comes to literary preference. Readers of the WR were expected to have a nodding acquaintance with the literature of the sixteenth to nineteenth century, not least because most of the writers had specialism in those eras – ‘Stet’, or T.Earle Welby, for instance, was still much taken with the work of late Victorian poets, and Humbert Wolfe saw himself in a romantic tradition that encompassed European writers. So the reference to Lovelace in this competition is not at all surprising.

Gerald Bullett wants a reply from the addressee to the famous lyric to Lucasta, written by Richard Lovelace. in the same form, and of the same length. You can read the poem here. It is about putting the honour of war ahead of love. The responses don’t, however, take the opportunity to make any kind of political statement about any potential prospect of war, and avoid satire completely. That underlines the way the back half of the paper works. The winners, who include two of the original five letter-writers, and who are three in number (one guinea each) are Valimus, Lester Ralph and D.C.R.Francombe.

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50B asks for short pieces on any subject in the style of Logan Pearsall Smith’s Trivia. This collection of short reflections, aphoristic and epigramatic, had been hugely popular when published in 1917, and Logan Pearsall Smith, an American who had settled in London, and was well-connected to  many in the cultural world, followed it with further collections in the same vein.You can read extracts from Trivia here or indeed download the whole book for free here. The competition attracted a very large entry. The two winners, Xenon and W.E., are new to the competition pages.

Logan Pearsall Smith

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