I always looked forward to his articles in the the London Review. In one of the Guardian links he is characterized as being "equally at home with Shakespeare, Donne, Wallace Stevens and the nouveau roman" and he says:
... one of the great benefits of seriously reading English is you're forced to read a lot of other things. You may not have a very deep acquaintance with Hegel but you need to know something about Hegel. Or Hobbes, or Aristotle, or Roland Barthes. We're all smatterers in a way, I suppose. But a certain amount of civilisation depends on intelligent smattering
One of his last reviews was called "Too Good and Too Silly" on the Cambridge Edition of Jane Austen:
It is said that among the television audience there were some who saw Darcy’s emergence from his pond – an event Austen omitted from her narrative – as the high point of the book.
My mother used to say of people who prattled ceaselessly – the Miss Bates type – that they talked ‘like a ha’penny book’, and in Sense and Sensibility people talk so bookishly that they deserve to have it said of them that they talk like three-decker novels. This habit Austen had given up by the time of Pride and Prejudice, also thought to have started life as an epistolary novel. The opening pages of Pride and Prejudice are full of brisk and amusing chat...