'It really is a question of the weather, the private weather, unpredictable as dreams yet recognisable as a climate, that the autobiographer must describe.' Henry James wrote that there are two kinds of lives worth writing: lives of those who have done a lot and lives of those who have thought alot. Frank Kermode, now Britain's most distinguished literary critic, falls obviously into the second of these categories. But in his autobiography, Kermode has chosen not to discuss literature or criticism much at all, though the sense of them both is palpable. Instead he sets out, in a brilliant book for which he would make no such claim, to recreate the weather of his life. He was born and brought op on the Isle of Man: the scenes, values and legacies of that intermittently tortuous and paradisiacal society he paints with wonderful clarity. Then the navy, and some of the best descriptions of the absurdity of war since Waugh's 'Sword of Honour'. Then what, following Verlaine, he calls simply 'the rest' - literature, literary life, literary people - individuals lovingly and plainly sketched, controversies delineated with a ferocious but never tiresome self awareness. He makes plain what he thinks is the value of all this. We may not agree with him, but we will almost certainly close the book reflecting that this combination of infinite sadness and wonderful humour is very rare indeed. It contains shocks, pleasures or amusements on every page; and it describes the climate of a life. Frank Kermode has been Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College, London, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge, and Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard. He is the General Editor of the Fontana Modern Masters and Master-guides series, and of the Oxford Authors. He is a Foreign Honour Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Officer de l'Ordre des Arts et des Sciences, and has received several honorary degrees. His previous books include'The Genius of Secrecy, The Classic, The Art of Telling, Forms of Attention, An Appetite for Poetry' and ' The Sense of an Ending'. He was knighted in 1991 and lives in Cambridge. " Frank Kermode's memoir, 'Not Entitled', is an oddly beautiful, or a beautifully odd book - a witty and useful exercise in self-depreciation, with only the most indirect hints that this abject confessor to failure and dereliction is an esteemed critic and venerated professor. Far from being untitled, he has been knighted for his service to English literature. Yet it is as an inadequate son, faulty pupil, indifferent Navy man, bad interviewee, and dupe of more worldly others that he principally figures in his own accounts. 'Not Entitled' remarkably conveys the 'microclimate' of depression at the heart of clever diffidence while being steadily entertaining, and even poetical.