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Sitwell, Sacheverell

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1897-1988) UK critic, poet and author, less regarded than his siblings, Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) and Osbert Sitwell, during their long closely associated careers, but in recent years increasingly deemed perhaps as interesting as his sister; he served in World War One from 1916. Some of his voluminous poetry is of peripheral interest, including The Hundred and One Harlequins (coll 1922 chap), Doctor Donne and Gargantua (1930 chap) – a metaphysical fantasia extensively evoking Rabelais – and Canons of Giant Art: Twenty Torsos in Heroic Landscapes (coll 1933), whose aestheticized desiderium may now seem fatally entre deux guerres. Poltergeists: An Introduction and Examination Followed by Chosen Instances (1940), though it does not specifically focus on Poltergeists in fiction, is an eloquently presented compendium of instances.

Sitwell remains of greatest interest for the Entertainments of the Imagination sequence of meditations beginning with Dance of the Quick and the Dead: An Entertainment of the Imagination (1936). Neither fiction nor fantasy, the sequence nevertheless compellingly encompasses and weaves together the visual arts, music and fiction, doing so in a style at points reminiscent of Vernon Lee's nonfiction books about Italy [for Vernon Lee see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; the whole sequence can intermittently but with great intensity be seen as an ekphrasis of Fantastika: a vision of what, through deeply experienced eyes, the roil of fantastika might look like. Though not formally part of the sequence, two further works – Journey to the Ends of Time: Volume One: Lost in the Dark Wood (1959) and For Want of the Golden City (1973) – continue the elaborate traversal. [JC]

Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell

born Scarborough, North Yorkshire: 15 November 1897

died Towcester, Northamptonshire: 1 October 1988

works (highly selected)


Entertainments of the Imagination

individual titles

collections including poetry


previous versions of this entry

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