cover of book
 

Enemies of Promise
by Cyril Connolly
foreword by Alex Woloch
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Paper: 978-0-226-11504-7

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REVIEWS | TOC | REQUEST ACCESSIBLE FILE
ABOUT THIS BOOK

“Whom the gods wish to destroy,” writes Cyril Connolly, “they first call promising.” First published in 1938 and long out of print, Enemies of Promise, an “inquiry into the problem of how to write a book that lasts ten years,” tests the boundaries of criticism, journalism, and autobiography with the blistering prose that became Connolly’s trademark. Connolly here confronts the evils of domesticity, politics, drink, and advertising as well as novelists such as Joyce, Proust, Hemingway, and Faulkner in essays that remain fresh and penetrating to this day.
 
 “A fine critic, compulsive traveler, and candid autobiographer. . . . [Connolly] lays down the law for all writers who wanted to count. . . . He had imagination and decisive images flashed with the speed of wit in his mind.”—V. S. Pritchett, New York Review of Books
 
“Anyone who writes, or wants to write, will find something on just about every single page that either endorses a long-held prejudice or outrages, and that makes it a pretty compelling read. . . . You end up muttering back at just about every ornately constructed pensée that Connolly utters, but that’s one of the joys of this book.”—Nick Hornby, The Believer
 
“A remarkable book.”—Anthony Powell
 

 
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
Cyril Connolly (1903–74) was one of the most influential critics of his time, who wrote for such publications as the New Statesman, the Observer, and the Sunday Times. He is the author of many books, including The Rock Pool and The Unquiet Grave.
 
 
 
REVIEWS
“You cannot read Cyril Connolly for very long without wanting to acquire—and then developing—a relationship with the personality of the man himself. This small, podgy, balding, pug-faced, funny, gossipy, lazy, clever, cowardly, hedonistic, fractious, difficult man somehow manages to enshrine in his words and life everything that we aspire to, and that intellectually ennobles us, and all that is weak and worst in us as well.”
— William Boyd, Guardian

“A fine critic, compulsive traveler, and candid autobiographer. . . . [Connolly] lays down the law for all writers who wanted to count. . . . He had imagination and decisive images flashed with the speed of wit in his mind.”
— V. S. Pritchett, NYRB

“Anyone who writes, or wants to write, will find something on just about every single page that either endorses a long-held prejudice or outrages, and that makes it a pretty compelling read. . . . You end up muttering back at just about every ornately constructed pensée that Connolly utters, but that’s one of the joys of this book.”
— Nick Hornby, Believer

“A remarkable book.”
— Anthony Powell

“Very ably introduced by Alex Woloch. . . . One of Connolly’s great gifts was self-deprecation, and one of his easier styles was that of the tongue in the cheek. He puts one in mind of two of the great contemporaries about whom he wrote—George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh.”

— Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Monthly

TABLE OF CONTENTS
    Foreword
    Introduction

    Part One
    Predicament
    I. The Next Ten Years
    II. The Mandarin Dialect
    III. The Challenge to the Mandarins
    IV. The Modern Movement
    V. Anatomy of a Dandyism
    VI. A Beast in View
    VII. The New Mandarins
    VIII. The New Vernacular
    IX. The Cool Element of Prose

    Part Two
    The Charlock's Shade

    X. The Blighted Rye
    XI. The Blue Bugloss
    XII. The Thistles
    XIII. The Poppies
    XIV. The Charlock's Shade
    XV. The Slimy Mallows
    XVI. Outlook Unsettled

    Part Three
    A Georgian Boyhood

    XVII. Credentials
    XVIII. The Branching Ogham
    XIX. White Samite
    XX. Dark Ages
    XXI. Renaissance
    XXII. The Background of the Lilies
    XXIII. Glittering Prizes
    XXIV. Vale

    Index
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