Search - List of Books by Martin Seymour-Smith

Martin Roger Seymour-Smith (24 April 1928 – 1 July 1998) was a British poet, critic and biographer.

Seymour-Smith was born in London and educated at Oxford University where he was editor of Isis. He began as one of the most promising of Anglophone post-war poets, but became better known as a critic, writing biographies of Robert Graves (whom he met first at age 14 and maintained close ties with), Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy, and producing numerous critical studies. He was also interested in astrology.

The poet and critic Robert Nye stated that that Seymour-Smith was "one of the finest British poets after 1945." Others to praise his poetry included Robert Graves, C. H. Sisson, Geoffrey Grigson and James Reeves.

He came to prominence in 1963, as the editor of the first twentieth century edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets to use the 'original' spelling. Characteristically, his commentary probed issues around Shakespeare's sexuality which upset many. Later, the author's Fallen Women (1969) and Sex and Society (1975) would become 'standard plundering material for more famous works' as the author good-humouredly claimed. He had known Alex Comfort, who was then writing The Joy of Sex (1972), from their schooldays at Highgate School and the two often swapped notes.

Seymour-Smith's Poets Through their Letters Vol 1 (Wyatt to Coleridge) was acclaimed for its scholarship, but sold poorly. Hence, Volume 2 was never published.

Meanwhile, his two volumes of poetry Tea with Miss Stockport (1963) and Reminiscences of Norma (1971), praised by many including Peter Porter whom Seymour-Smith had hardly courted, led to the acclaim cited above. But a perceived creative silence till his last extraordinary collection, Wilderness (1994) led inevitably to his reputation fading with the reading public during the 1980s.

The Guide to Modern World Literature is an encyclopedic attempt to describe all major 20th-century authors, in all languages. The book is over 1450 pages long. Daringly individualistic, it is eccentric and occasionally frustrating but always readable and highly stimulating. As Cyril Connolly summarised of the first (1973) edition: "I'm very much afraid he will prove indispensable!" And many judgments previously thought eccentric have proved sound. For instance, his criticism of Lawrence Durrell singled out his poetry as his real achievement; John Fowles, Muriel Spark, C. P. Snow, Malcolm Bradbury and even Ted Hughes first felt the chilling of their reputations in these covers. The stature of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-76) as the greatest fictional post-war achievement was asserted: a view endorsed by Kingsley Amis, Hilary Spurling and an increasing number of readers since. And Seymour-Smith's prediction that T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets would not survive as a great poem by 2000, has been arguably vindicated.

The polyglot Seymour-Smith further used the book to champion writers he regarded as underrated, such as James Hanley, Laura Riding, Cesar Vallejo, Pio Baroja, Rayner Heppenstall and Jose Maria Arguedas, while attacking those he felt were overvalued, such as George Bernard Shaw, W. H. Auden and as mentioned above, T. S. Eliot. Seymour-Smith also disparaged John le Carré, Harold Pinter, Margaret Atwood[1], and Tom Stoppard whom he thought overrated.

In addition to The Guide to Modern World Literature, he wrote other large literature surveys, including The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written (1998), Who's Who in 20th Century Literature (1976), and Novels and Novelists: A Guide to the World of Fiction (1980). It was because of these books that Anthony Burgess likened Seymour-Smith to Samuel Johnson.

His Collected Poems were published in 2005 by Greenwich Exchange.

This author page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Martin Seymour-Smith", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
Total Books: 53
The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written From the Zend Avesta of Zarathustra to BF Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity
The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written The History of Though from Ancient Times to Today
The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today
50 European Novels
50 European Novels [Student Guides] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551495
ISBN-10: 1871551498
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Bluff Your Way in Literature
Bluff Your Way in Literature (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780517307632
ISBN-10: 0517307634
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Dictionary of Fictional Characters
Dictionary of Fictional Characters (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780871161666
ISBN-10: 0871161664
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Reference
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FALLEN WOMEN
Fallen Women (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780586034774
ISBN-10: 0586034773
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From Bed to Verse An Unashamed Pillow Book
From Bed to Verse an Unashamed Pillow Book (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780285630505
ISBN-10: 0285630504
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Funk  Wagnalls Guide to Modern World Literature
Funk Wagnalls Guide to Modern World Literature (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780308100794
ISBN-10: 0308100794
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Gnosticism The Path of Inner Knowledge
Gnosticism the Path of Inner Knowledge (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780062513052
ISBN-10: 0062513052
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction, Christian Books & Bibles
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
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Guide to modern world literature
Guide to Modern World Literature (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780723404125
ISBN-10: 0723404127
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 1
Guide to Modern World Literature V 1 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780340195055
ISBN-10: 0340195053
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 2
Guide to Modern World Literature V 2 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780340202296
ISBN-10: 0340202297
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 3
Guide to Modern World Literature V 3 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780340202302
ISBN-10: 0340202300
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 4
Guide to Modern World Literature V 4 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780340202319
ISBN-10: 0340202319
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Hardy
Hardy (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780312118198
ISBN-10: 0312118198
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction
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Inside Poetry
Inside Poetry (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780389040248
ISBN-10: 038904024X
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An Introduction to Fifty European Novels
An Introduction to Fifty European Novels [Pan literature guides] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780330258661
ISBN-10: 0330258664
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Literature
Literature [Bluffer's Guides] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780723400615
ISBN-10: 072340061X
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Martin Seymour Smith Collected Poems 1943-1993
Martin Seymour Smith Collected Poems 1943-1993 (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551471
ISBN-10: 1871551471
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The New Astrologer
The New Astrologer (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780020819400
ISBN-10: 0020819404
Genres: Reference, Religion & Spirituality
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
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