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The Art of Arno Schmidt

Michael Irwin, 2 October 1980

Evening Edged in Gold 
by Arno Schmidt.
Marion Boyars, 215 pp., £60, September 1980, 9780714527192
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Confessions of a Lady-Killer 
by George Stade.
Muller, 374 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 584 31057 9
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Seahorse 
by Graham Petrie.
Constable, 169 pp., £5.95, August 1980, 0 09 463710 5
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... I am tempted towards no such subterfuges, partly because my ignorance of the man and his work, prior to my reading of Evening Edged in Gold, was total, partly because I imagine numerous other potential British readers will be in a similar position. Any such doubts are likely to be reinforced by the price of this translation: at 25p to the page it would ...

Knowledge Infinite

D.J. Enright, 16 August 1990

The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... one reason or another never go to the opera. The main characters of Don Giovanni, he notes, have a prior and conspicuous existence outside the opera, being well-established figures of myth, a fact which both helps and hinders. Miller is not the only contributor to glance at that other great legendary example: ‘Faust loses his soul by impudently using it to ...

Voices

Seamus Deane, 21 April 1983

The Pleasures of Gaelic Poetry 
edited by Sean Mac Reamoinn.
Allen Lane, 272 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 7139 1284 7
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... Ireland a national aspiration is that which, at all costs, must never be attained. Make that your prior determination and the aspiration can always be kept. Speak for it, work against it. In doing both, with complete conviction, a neurosis is revealed but a policy is retained. This schizoid attitude is not confined to government. It has penetrated into many ...

Inside Out

John Bayley, 4 September 1980

The Collected Ewart 1933-1980 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 412 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 09 141000 2
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Selected Poems and Prose 
by Michael Roberts, edited by Frederick Grubb.
Carcanet, 205 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 85635 263 2
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... comfortable volume there is a poem called ‘It’s hard to dislike Ewart’. Too true, as Clive James or Peter Porter might say, possibly with a certain wry exasperation. Generally speaking, our fondness and admiration for poets does go with a potential of patronage or dislike, a pleasure in our sense of the absurdities and vulnerabilities of their worlds ...

Ironed Corpses Clattering in the Wind

Mark Kishlansky: The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, 17 August 2006

Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms 
by Tim Harris.
Penguin, 506 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 14 026465 5
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Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720 
by Tim Harris.
Allen Lane, 622 pp., £30, January 2006, 0 7139 9759 1
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... one of governments a-go-go, with at least nine separate constitutional configurations in the year prior to Restoration, some of them also greeted with bonfires and bells. Charles II’s great challenge was to turn momentary sentiment into permanence, and he approached his task with great circumspection. He left every controversial decision unresolved until ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels, 19 August 1999

Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... sequel’, which is not an imitation but a prolongation – like Walter Scott’s or James Fenimore Cooper’s novel cycles, or Balzac’s Human Comedy. Both types are tied to market forces. Collections like To Be Continued: An Annotated Guide to Sequels (1995) and The Whole Story: 3000 Years of Sequels and Sequences (1996) attest to the ...

I hate thee, Djaun Bool

Denis Donoghue: James Clarence Mangan, 17 March 2005

James Clarence Mangan: Selected Writings 
edited by Sean Ryder.
University College Dublin, 514 pp., £21, February 2004, 1 900621 92 4
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1832-39 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 416 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2577 1
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1840-82 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 496 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2735 9
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James Clarence Mangan: Poems 
edited by David Wheatley.
Gallery Press, 160 pp., £8.95, April 2005, 1 85235 345 7
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Selected Poems of James Clarence Mangan 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Rudolf Holzapfel, Peter Van der Kamp and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 320 pp., £16, May 2003, 0 7165 2782 0
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... On 15 February 1902, James Joyce, aged 20, read a paper on James Clarence Mangan to the Literary and Historical Society of what is now University College, Dublin. It was a brash performance. Joyce spoke as if he were introducing an unknown poet, and chose to ignore the facts that there were several collections of Mangan’s poems at large and that his life and work had been extensively written about ...

Banality and Anxiety

Michael Mason, 19 March 1981

Thirty Seconds 
by Michael Arlen.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 211 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 27576 9
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The Crystal Bucket 
by Clive James.
Cape, 238 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 224 01890 6
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The Message of Television 
by Roger Silverstone.
Heinemann, 248 pp., £14.50, March 1981, 0 435 82825 8
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... way of taking interesting linguistic risks, but not his way of outrageously surviving them. Clive James writes wonderfully well, of course. He is one of the most remarkable figures in British cultural life at the moment: a poet and gifted literary critic who is also genuinely liked by the mass audience. In crossing the border-posts in our culture he does not ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... The most interesting book of first poems in many years’, Richard Howard proclaimed in 1981. James Merrill, John Hollander and John Ashbery spoke in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for many,’ David Kalstone wrote, ‘in saying it appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South ...

Narcissus and Cain

David Bromwich, 6 August 1992

Mary and Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft, Matilda by Mary Shelley 
edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 217 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 1 85196 023 6
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Lady Sophia Sternheim 
by Sophie von La Roche, edited by James Lynn.
Pickering & Chatto, 216 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 9781851960217
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... Her father observes the woman he adores in a pensive attitude, fancies this the effect of a prior passion, and is ready to despair until told she was thinking of ‘the impression made on her heart’ by certain letters he himself had written to her brother. The passion is prior, after all, but she transfers it from ...

Diary

Wendy Lesser: Surfing the OED on CD-ROM, 3 October 1996

... narcissistic fantasy to believe that the world as we know it started with our own birth, and that prior to our appearance all was darkness and antiquity. My particular generation – located at the heart of the baby-boomers, roughly midway between President Clinton and Madonna – has taken this tendency to an extreme. We would be likely to believe that no ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Melanie Phillips, 13 May 2010

... civilisation ruined thanks to Francis Bacon, Rousseau, Hume, Comte, Marx, Bergson, William James, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Gramsci, Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins, liberation theologians, Princess Diana, Professor Nutt, someone called Matthew Fox, Madonna, Cherie Blair – and Barack Obama. Nor is our gratitude due for her elucidation of why human ...

Shall we tell the children?

Paul Seabright, 3 July 1986

Melanie Klein: Her World and her Work 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hodder, 516 pp., £19.95, June 1986, 0 340 25751 2
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Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James and Alix Strachey 1924-1925 
edited by Perry Meisel and Walter Kendrick.
Chatto, 360 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7011 3051 2
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... extraction named Melanie Klein. It was largely thanks to the efforts of Alix and her husband James in bringing Klein to the attention of the British Psycho-Analytical Society that she moved to London in 1926 after the death of Abraham. He had been Klein’s mentor and analyst, and without him she had little defence against the hostility that was ...

A Peacock Called Mirabell

August Kleinzahler: James Merrill, 31 March 2016

James Merrill: Life and Art 
by Langdon Hammer.
Knopf, 913 pp., £27, April 2015, 978 0 375 41333 9
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... James Merrill​ has in Langdon Hammer the biographer he would have wished for: intelligent, appreciative, sympathetic, thorough, a first-rate reader of the poems, and an excellent writer to boot. Merrill would have hated to be the subject of a plodding biography. He was all about stylishness and elegance, in poetry and in life ...

Daisy packs her bags

Zachary Leader: The Road to West Egg, 21 September 2000

Trimalchio: An Early Version of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by James L.W. West III.
Cambridge, 192 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 521 40237 9
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... Cornell Wordsworth, reflected two more widespread beliefs in literary theory: that ‘language is prior to thought’ and that authorial intention is ‘not only elusive and illusory, but irrelevant’. In the case of the Cornell Wordsworth such beliefs were used to defend the publication of early versions as reading texts (a host of ...

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