Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness’s Real Oxford, an exploration of the city behind the university, is out now.

Outside in the Bar: Ten Years in Sheerness

Patrick McGuinness, 21 October 2021

In Uwe Johnson’s work, perspective doesn’t come from a bird’s-eye view but from staying at eye level – from looking and never stopping. His characters are suspicious of any claim that there is an omniscient history.

Diary: Oxford by Train

Patrick McGuinness, 17 June 2021

Edward Thomas​ called the approach to Oxford by train ‘the most contemptible in Europe’. There’s no view to speak of, and the station is a big shed with lots of glass and cheap detailing: blue pillars and PVC fascias. The city’s relationship to the railway, like its relationship to the world, is arrogant but insecure, high-minded but petty. Oxford was offered a...

Their Mad Gallopade: Nancy Cunard

Patrick McGuinness, 25 January 2018

When male poets​ have dramatic, bohemian or tragic lives, it is a triumph of consistency; when they have boring ones, it is a triumph of manly compartmentalisation. The rules are different for women: their tragedy and bohemianism must occlude their writing (while also keeping it marketable), and any gift they display for normality – or, worse, happiness – must be proof of the...

On Rosemary Tonks: Rosemary Tonks

Patrick McGuinness, 2 July 2015

In​ The Waste Land, a ‘young man carbuncular’ makes a play for ‘the typist home at teatime’:

Flushed and decided, he assaults at once; Exploring hands encounter no defence; His vanity requires no response, And makes a welcome of indifference.

Anyone who wants the typist’s side of this brief, bleak encounter might find a version of it in Rosemary Tonks’s...

Poem: ‘Charleville’

Patrick McGuinness, 11 February 2010

It’s not why Rimbaud left that mystifies, though this new year the Place Ducale sports ice rink, carousel, and a waffel-stand from nearby Belgium. It’s why he kept returning. On ne part pas: he answered it himself, ‘we never leave.’ After Harar,

he thought his home town was a desert by other means, and everywhere he walked he walked on sand; sinking and finding his...

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