Books: The Caxton Constellation

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE MAN OF LETTERS by John Gross. 322 pages. Macmillan. $8.95.

"Pigsbrook" was the way Victorian Critic F. J. Furnivall referred to Algernon Charles Swinburne. The poet wrote of Furnivall as "Brothelsdyke." Vituperation, however, has gone out of style in literary controversy, and it is the thesis of British Critic John Gross that this is a pity. If men don't lose their tempers over literature (as once they did over theology), it means that literature doesn't matter much any more.

Gross has had the excellent idea of passing in...

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