Frank Laurence Lucas (1894–1967) was an English classical scholar, literary critic, poet, novelist, playwright, political polemicist, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and intelligence officer at Bletchley Park during World War II.
He is now best remembered for his scathing 1923 review of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and for his book Style (1955; revised 1962), an acclaimed guide to recognising and writing good prose. His Tragedy in Relation to Aristotle's 'Poetics' (1927, substantially revised in 1957) was for over fifty years a standard introduction. His most important contribution to scholarship was his four-volume Complete Works of John Webster (1927), the first collected edition of the Jacobean dramatist since that of Hazlitt the Younger (1857), itself an inferior copy of Dyce (1830). Eliot called Lucas "the perfect annotator"; and subsequent Webster scholars have been indebted to him, notably the editors of the new Cambridge Webster (1995–2007).
Lucas is also remembered for his anti-fascist campaign in the 1930 and for his wartime work at Bletchley Park, for which he received the OBE.
Lucas's standing as a literary critic was probably at its highest in the 1930s post-war, reviewers were often more hostile. Probably because, psychoanalytic literary criticism aside, he scorned most new trends – he described the critical theory of the 1950s as "largely pseudo-scientific bubble-blowing" – his criticism has long been out of fashion and is mostly out of print. "The literary world has passed on," wrote L. P. Wilkinson, "but that does not mean that what supervened was better; and just because of his uncompromising brilliance the whirligig of time may bring in his criticism again. His Style (1955) has a permanent value in any case, unaffected by trends." Style is now back in print (2012). His two earliest books, Seneca and Elizabethan Tragedy (1922) (his Fellowship dissertation) and Euripides and His Influence (1923), not yet superseded in similar concise form, continue to be reprinted. The references to and quotations from his 1927 edition in the new Cambridge Webster (1995–2007) confirm that he retains the respect of Webster scholars...
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