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I’m hip. I live in New York

Theo Tait: Leonard Michaels, 3 March 2016

Sylvia 
by Leonard Michaels.
Daunt Books, 131 pp., £9.99, June 2015, 978 1 907970 55 9
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... to Italo Calvino, is ‘a book that has never finished saying what it has to say’. I have readSylvia by Leonard Michaels four or five times and I still don’t feel that I’ve got to the bottom of it. First published in 1992, it is a novel disguised as a memoir, or a memoir disguised as a novel, based on ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... helps us appreciate why such a way of reading seems appropriate. To relish this fully one needs to read the volume from cover to cover, experiencing the crossovers from language to language, poet to poet: a Post-Modern reading experience. As Watson points out, it seems likely, for instance, that Robert Fergusson and his Gaelic contemporary Duncan Ban Macintyre ...

The Real Johnny Hall

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 October 1985

Our Three Selves: A Life of Radclyffe Hall 
by Michael Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £13.95, June 1985, 0 241 11539 6
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... When The Well of Loneliness came out in July 1928 the reviewers were not astonished. Both Leonard Woolf and L.P. Hartley thought the book sincere, but overemphatic. The Times Literary Supplement also called it sincere, and Vera Brittain said it was ‘admirably restrained’. It sold quite well, going into a second impression, and Radclyffe Hall, with her lover Una Troubridge, thought of taking a cottage in Rye ...

Wild Words

Stuart Hampshire, 18 August 1983

A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 832 pp., £16.50, April 1983, 0 297 78226 6
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... excitement keeps the narrative going, however unbalanced the judgments become. In fact, Keynes and Leonard Woolf, the only politically active members of Bloomsbury, were always very strongly anti-Communist, particularly Woolf, and that sinister upwards and downwards movement is a mere fever of fantasy, as those of us old enough to ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... talked about ‘The Significance of Bloomsbury as a Social and Cultural Group’. He accepted Leonard Woolf’s characterisation of Bloomsbury as consisting ‘of the upper levels of the professional middle class and county families, interpenetrated to a certain extent by the aristocracy’ with ‘an intricate tangle of ancient roots and tendrils ...

No Clapping

Rosemary Hill: The Bloomsbury Memoir Club, 17 July 2014

The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club 
by S.P. Rosenbaum, edited by James Haule.
Palgrave, 203 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 137 36035 9
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... sexual permutations would have caused no consternation among listeners who included Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell. Nor, perhaps, would Forster’s own discomfort with the question of Sex, which played a large, complicated part in his own life: ‘You work it out,’ his essay goes on: ‘I can’t so well.’ Increasingly anguished by the ...

Superchild

John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... To read Virginia Woolf when young is, or was, to have the feeling of entering a new world, to realise with sudden ecstasy that this was true being, where words and consciousness and the solitary self melted into one. ‘She gave me eyes, she gave me ears,’ wrote Wordsworth of his sister Dorothy. Virginia Woolf gave more than that: she gave, or seemed to give, the pure Private Life, quite separate from the contingent miseries, anxieties and rivalries of adolescence, a free-floating poetic awareness, an otherness wholly and excitingly up-to-date ...

Answering back

James Campbell, 11 July 1991

The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... on it for years. Adherents of a politics of language such as James Kelman and the poet Tom Leonard (actually the midwife of the Glasgow ‘renaissance’, though less frequently mentioned than his novelist colleagues) do not group together on exclusively nationalist lines: they see themselves as part of a school which has formed along the periphery of ...

Seeing things

Rosemary Dinnage, 4 December 1980

The Story of Ruth 
by Morton Schatzman.
Duckworth, 306 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 7156 1504 1
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... traces of itself behind? If Ruth hallucinated someone turning on the light, would she be able to read? If she hallucinated a conversation and left the tape-recorder running, would there be anything on the tape? If she hallucinated Schatzman and asked him questions, would ‘his’ answers be correct? No, was the answer in each case; any reasonably gifted ...

On Paul Muldoon

Clair Wills, 6 February 2020

... his tink tink, tink tinkbespeaking a familiarity with the science of iron-carbon alloysthe Chinese developed alongside the Dao,he’s believed to anticipate the licethat will infest his nest by stitching intoits brush-pile the egg sacs of lice-eating spiders.This ‘time-release packet’ is just one example of what Muldoon describes elsewhere in the collection as ‘future-proofing’ (‘Once we relied on a hoard//of seed that had been sacked/and saved ...

Great Male Narcissist

Christopher Tayler: Sigrid Nunez, 1 August 2019

Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury 
by Sigrid Nunez.
Soft Skull, 172 pp., £12.50, August 2019, 978 1 59376 582 8
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The Friend 
by Sigrid Nunez.
Virago, 213 pp., £8.99, February 2019, 978 0 349 01281 0
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... reissued this month by Soft Skull. This took as its jumping-off point the fact that Leonard Woolf once had a marmoset of that name, acquired from his friend Victor Rothschild in 1934. In the novel, Rothschild sees an ailing monkey chained up outside a junk shop, feels sorry for it, buys it and tries to pass it off as a gift for his pregnant ...

Cardigan Arrest

Robert Potts: Poetry in Punglish, 21 June 2007

Look We Have Coming to Dover! 
by Daljit Nagra.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 571 23122 5
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... writers: Douglas Dunn, Tony Harrison, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Agard, Grace Nichols and Tom Leonard, to name a few. For some, ‘literary art’ is a territory to be attained (Harrison’s ‘we’ll occupy/ your lousy leasehold, poetry’), in others a rule-book to be torn up (Agard’s ‘mugging de Queen’s English’), in others again a privilege ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman, 9 May 2002

... of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it’s never done as well as Tom Brown’s Schooldays: Amazon.co.uk hasn’t even heard of it.) It’s a different matter for young Tom’s Voldemort, ‘that blackguard Flashman, who ...

In a Bookshop

Peter Campbell: Penguin by Illustrators, 10 September 2009

... who don’t already know the book they came to shop for. If they pause and look, pick up and read, they may also buy. The product and the advertisement are bound up together. Berthold Wolpe’s 1950s Faber cover design for Le Corbusier’s ‘Modulor 2’ Two books are just out which chart the transition from essentially utilitarian, intermittently ...

Scottish Men and Scottish Women

Jenny Turner, 27 June 1991

The Burn 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 244 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 436 23286 3
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Blood 
by Janice Galloway.
Secker, 179 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 436 20027 9
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... new Glasgow writing’, a movement taken to involve man of pairts Alasdair Gray and poet Tom Leonard as well as Kelman and Galloway, to open on a sort of pen-Polaroid of the city of Glasgow itself. But nothing could be more inappropriate to the spirit of the writing. Turn to the stories collected in The Burn and in Blood: a powerful sense ...

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