Books: 18th Century Garb

LADIES' MISTAKES—James Laver— Knopf ($2).

Among the lost arts is that of writing verse in "heroic couplets." Though the 18th Century thought it the only wear for poets, it has since dropped completely out of fashion, is now never used as a serious poetic form. For the English, especially, it still has a half-humorous academic charm. Author Laver, onetime winner of Oxford's Newdigate Poetry Prize, comports himself with fair grace in these borrowed 18th Century garments but never rises to the level of Pope's elegance or acid wit.

Sly rather than satirical, these...

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