Understatement - Poem by gershon hepner
English manners, English speech and English foibles
can’t be exported by a bunch of missionaries;
understatement is not codified in bibles,
and will not give an exhibitioner ease.
Exaggeration trips more easily from tongues,
when people are polemicizing verbally,
it’s not a cause of emphysema of the lungs,
although polite coughs may correct hyperbole.
David Lodge reviews Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories in the NYR, May 11,2006:
....Bennett is a quintessentially English writer and I suspect that the majority of his fans in his native country would so identify themselves. He is as English as Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis, and with all three writers it is doubtful whether the full flavor of his work “travels” (in the wine taster’s sense of the word) unimpaired into other cultures or languages, because so much of their appeal inheres in the pleasure of recognition––nuances of English manners, English speech, and English foibles, perfectly caught and rendered. It says much for Bennett’s droll wit, clever dramaturgy, and sense of pathos that his work has nevertheless carried successfully over the Atlantic, if not perhaps quite so easily across the English Channel.
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