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Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1990, 24 January 1991

... commemorated than anyone else on the parade, he is bundled away to be treated for 60 per cent burns at Roehampton, and nothing more will be heard of him. If Jan Palach had put a match to himself in Whitehall and nut Wenceslas Square, the same would have happened. It’s not called ‘martyrdom’ in England, just ‘going too far’. Still, ‘it is ...

In Praise of Mess

Richard Poirier: Walt Whitman, 4 June 1998

With Walt Whitman in Camden. Vol. VIII: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891 
by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac.
Bentley, 624 pp., $99.50, November 1996, 0 9653415 8 5
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With Walt Whitman in Camden. Vol. IX: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891 
by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac.
Bentley, 624 pp., £99.50, November 1996, 0 9653415 9 3
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... this immortal ‘me’. Discussing a study of 1883 entitled Walt Whitman and written by his friend Richard Bucke, he insists to Traubel that his endorsement of the book was never meant to extend to its interpretations: as to his explication – no, no, no – that I do not accept – for Leaves of Grass baffles me, its author, at all points of its meaning ...

Umbah-Umbah

Jerome McGann, 22 June 1989

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century 
by Greil Marcus.
Secker, 496 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 436 27338 1
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... swept up in the storms raised by these people: for example, Henri Lefebvre, Michele Bernstein, Richard Huelsenbeck, Malcolm Maclaren. Having abandoned or been abandoned by their fiery flying rolls, each of these memorialists re-entered the satanic world – denouncing (Lefebvre), slandering (Maclaren), regretting (Bernstein), or fleeing (Huelsenbeck) their ...

Northern Lights

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 April 1984

Literature and Gentility in Scotland 
by David Daiches.
Edinburgh, 114 pp., £6.50, June 1982, 9780852244388
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New Perspectives on the Politics and Culture of Early Modern Scotland 
edited by John Dwyer, Roger Mason and Alexander Murdoch.
John Donald, 340 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 85976 066 9
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Adam Smith 
by R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner.
Croom Helm, 231 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 9780709907299
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Sister Peg 
edited by David Raynor.
Cambridge, 127 pp., £15.50, June 1981, 0 521 24299 1
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Boswell: The Applause of the Jury 1782-1785 
edited by Irma Lustig and Frederick Pottle.
Heinemann, 419 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 434 43945 2
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Muir of Huntershill 
by Christina Bewley.
Oxford, 212 pp., £8.50, May 1981, 0 19 211768 8
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... of the upper class were accompanied by a genuine achievement in the vernacular by Fergusson and Burns, even though the prosodic forms available were by then restricted. The Scottish Enlightenment with its accompanying literary shadow, inevitably raises historical problems of causation. Is there a collection of social or institutional preconditions which may ...

Lithe Pale Girls

Robert Crawford: Richard Aldington, 22 January 2015

Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier and Lover 1911-29 
by Vivien Whelpton.
Lutterworth, 414 pp., £30, January 2015, 978 0 7188 9318 7
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... was his rejection of the name his parents had given him: from his teens he called himself Richard. A sparkling-eyed poet who played rugby at school, he caught the eye of many women. In his youth he had a taste for velvet jackets and bow ties; he had studied some Greek, and relished the Romantic Hellenism of Keats’s Endymion, whose famous first line ...

Italianizzati

Hugh Honour, 13 November 1997

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... the ideal virtuoso and Grand Tourist. He was first drawn to the subject by the Roman landscapes of Richard Wilson; published a book on Wilson’s then little-known drawings; and went on to annotate the letters written from Rome in 1757 by a minor British painter who had mentioned Wilson and other British travellers and expatriates in the city. This led him to ...

The Unmaking of the President

Benjamin Barber, 7 October 1982

The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power 
by Garry Wills.
Atlantic/Little, Brown, 310 pp., $14.95, February 1982, 0 316 94385 1
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... with acuity on Madison and Jefferson and on Jack Ruby (the assassin of Kennedy’s assassin) and Richard Nixon. He is the closest thing the New World has to a Chesterton or a Burke. Who better to reflect on the relationship of sin and power, of eros and daring, of charisma and catastrophe, than an American pilgrim whose journey has taken him from William ...

Saint or Snake

Stefan Collini: Ann Oakley on Richard Titmuss, 8 October 2015

Father and Daughter: Patriarchy, Gender and Social Science 
by Ann Oakley.
Policy, 290 pp., £13.99, November 2014, 978 1 4473 1810 1
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... Descriptions​ of Richard Titmuss often drew on the language of otherworldliness. He was ‘the high priest of the welfare state’ according to an assessment quoted in the ODNB. His entry there considers, though judiciously rejects, his frequent characterisation as a ‘saint’; understandably, it doesn’t cite his LSE colleague Michael Oakeshott’s description of him as ‘a snake in saint’s clothing ...

Jesus Christie

Richard Wollheim, 3 October 1985

J.T. Christie: A Great Teacher 
by Donald Lindsay, Roger Young and Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Plume, 211 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 947656 00 6
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... could escape morbidity. He read with us some of the Lesbia poems, not all. He compared Catullus to Burns, and again he tried to convince us of the torments of unsanctified love. When he spoke of such topics he wriggled in his chair. We used to see him wriggle in much the same way in his pew when he came in early to the school service for private prayer. In ...

Hating dogs

Julian Barnes, 17 September 1981

Words on the Air 
by John Sparrow.
Collins, 163 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 00 216876 6
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... that the seventh erotic encounter between Mellors and Lady Chatterley, where the gamekeeper ‘burns out the shame in her’, contains an act of buggery. Sparrow’s line is not – as the conventional Right might have hoped – that this makes the book obscene: indeed, he offers no opinion on the legal implications. His intention is both more distant and ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... suntanned heads, Their ancient arms Outstretched, belong to you. Although your head still burns Your hands remember me. There is an echo of Yeats (impossible to hear ‘ancient’ without it), quite a bit of ‘Waking in the Blue’ in the humorous commingling of health and sickness, but the thing doesn’t seem literary at all: the tenderness and ...

Self-Effacers

John Lanchester, 24 May 1990

Chicago Loop 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 183 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 241 12949 4
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Lies of Silence 
by Brian Moore.
Bloomsbury, 194 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0610 8
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Amongst Women 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14284 2
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The Condition of Ice 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 170 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 436 19989 0
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... have injected an element of the energy which makes attractive fictional monsters as disparate as Richard III and John Self. Chicago Loop (terrific title) is another book that has a cold, clear surface and a lurking nastiness underneath. Its central character, Parker Jagoda (terrific name), is a 37-year old architect-turned-developer who, unknown to ...

A Long Forgotten War

Jenny Diski: Sheila Rowbotham, 6 July 2000

Promise of a Dream: A Memoir of the 1960s 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Allen Lane, 262 pp., £18.99, July 2000, 0 7139 9446 0
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... demonstration in Grosvenor Square, and a plan to drop the slogan ‘Oxbridge paddles while Vietnam burns’ over a bridge during the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, ‘thus catching the TV cameras and millions of viewers’. And so it goes on. The boyfriend problems (the relationship with Rowthorn became ‘open’), the political struggles (the battles within ...

Ach so, Herr Major

Nicholas Horsfall: Translating Horace, 23 June 2005

Horace: Odes and Epodes 
edited by Niall Rudd.
Harvard, 350 pp., £14.50, June 2004, 0 674 99609 7
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... not immune: the Rhode of 3.19 becomes ‘Rosy’. Horace is for today, not of today: ‘it burns me up’, ‘rattles on about’, ‘beauty queen’, ‘in charge of operations’, ‘heart-throb’, ‘snap of my fingers’, ‘sex god’ and ‘sex appeal’ are the indefensible pinchbeck of modernity, invariably out of place, and wisely avoided by ...

On the horse Parsnip

John Bayley, 8 February 1990

Boris Pasternak: The Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... two lovers exchanging ‘hands legs and fates’ in the winter time in the Revolution. The candle burns when Zhivago writes his poems, the emblem and essence of what lives and matters. Lara is presumably in bed and asleep. Put like that, it sounds a piece of bathos and this is the paradox of an art like Pasternak’s, which is at once totally popular and ...

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