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What most I love I bite

Matthew Bevis: Stevie Smith, 28 July 2016

The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Will May.
Faber, 806 pp., £35, October 2015, 978 0 571 31130 9
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... poems, hung around in one’s mind ‘long after one has put the book down in favour of Wallace Stevens’. And then there was her interest in pets: ‘She has also written a book about cats, which as far as I am concerned casts a shadow over even the most illustrious name.’ Although the unillustrious poet privately acknowledged her debt to the ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... and greater rigour. This was the era of Pevsner, Namier, E.H. Carr, D.W. Brogan, A.J.P. Taylor, Anthony Blunt and Noel Annan, all regular reviewers for the TLS (though the old, cosy TLS reappeared in 1946 when Russell’s History of Western Philosophy was sent to J.B. Hawkins, the vicar of Esher). May notes two milestones in the paper’s steady ...

Why do you make me do it?

David Bromwich: Robert Ryan, 18 February 2016

... no explanation – it is the first line of ‘Dutch Graves in Bucks County’, a poem that Wallace Stevens published in 1943. The image may have come from a march-of-time documentary of Americans training to fight in the Second World War. Probably the machines included tanks and a lorry convoy, possibly a squadron of fighter planes. What became of the angry ...

Military to Military

Seymour M. Hersh, 7 January 2016

... with State Department acquiescence. On 11 September 2012 the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed during an anti-American demonstration that led to the burning down of the US consulate in Benghazi; reporters for the Washington Post found copies of the ambassador’s schedule in the building’s ruins. It showed that on 10 September ...

Puffed Wheat

James Wood: How serious is John Bayley?, 20 October 2005

The Power of Delight: A Lifetime in Literature: Essays 1962-2002 
by John Bayley, selected by Leo Carey.
Duckworth, 677 pp., £25, March 2005, 0 7156 3312 0
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... alternative to Kundera: natural, comic, unself-conscious and Czech.) Betjeman, Wodehouse, Austen, Anthony Powell and Larkin are all examples, for Bayley, of this kind of evasive magic, which is opposed again and again to what he calls ‘seriousness’. Any jobbing writer, it seems, can be ‘serious’ or at least can talk about ‘seriousness’. But the ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... by Alan Ladd in Shane is exquisite, but Shane as a whole is a phoney. (But its director, George Stevens, did direct a musical that’s a serious candidate for greatness: Swing Time.) And the problem of evaluating the makers is vastly complicated, as it is with the Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, by the fact that the creation is usually collaborative and ...

By All Possible Art

Tobias Gregory: George Herbert, 18 December 2014

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert 
by John Drury.
Penguin, 396 pp., £9.99, April 2014, 978 0 14 104340 1
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... of the church’. For the updated view, she links to a recent book by another vicar, Justin Lewis-Anthony, with the unbeatable title If You Meet George Herbert on the Road, Kill Him: Radically Rethinking Priestly Ministry. Both these ministers are products of a Church of England that has adapted to an England in which religious freedom is a given. Churches ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... that he was guilty, by the time it came to the closing speeches all inhibitions had been shed. Anthony Evans QC, for Donaldson, asked the jury: ‘Can anyone believe that Armstrong was not an active member of the IRA?’ He continued: We say to you that the innocent Patrick Armstrong does not exist. He is a media creation, a creation of the ...

Who to Be

Colm Tóibín: Beckett’s Letters, 6 August 2009

The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929-40 
edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 782 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 521 86793 1
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... a friend of W.B. Yeats’s wife, George, and of Joyce’s wife, Nora; he corresponded with Wallace Stevens, who dedicated a poem to him. Richard Aldington called him ‘a paradox of a man if ever there was one. He looked like a priest in civvies.’ McGreevy chatted and gossiped a lot, knew a great deal about art and music and literature and was charming and ...

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