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John Bayley, 8 December 1988

The Letters of Max Beerbohm 1892-1956 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 244 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7195 4537 4
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The Faber Book of Letters 
edited by Felix Pryor.
Faber, 319 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 571 15269 4
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... their subjects. I have something in common with Joyce, and with Wilde, is the modest assumption of Richard Ellmann. Max was a bit like me, implies Cecil. That brings them, and us, all the closer to the subject. It can also lead to misunderstanding. Oddly enough, as Cecil’s admirable biography shows, both he and Max understood Oscar Wilde a good deal better ...

At the Shore

Inigo Thomas, 30 August 2018

... Brighton had several, and became the epitome of the beach. ‘You hear nothing and see nothing,’ Richard Jeffries wrote of Brighton’s beach in The Open Air (1885): It is perfectly comfortable, perfectly jolly and exhilarating, a preferable spot to any other. A sparkle of sunshine on the breakers, a dazzling gleam from the white foam, a warm sweet ...

No more pretty face

Philip Horne, 8 March 1990

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... but extreme heresies of The Last Temptation of Christ. They are therefore attractive figures for Faber, who are launching a welcome new series of director-based film books (they have been publishing screenplays for some time). Since the mid-Seventies, Britain has been lamentably served in this respect, with the decline or disappearance of the main series ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne, 7 September 2000

by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... of an excellent Radio 3 programme in 1999 and there is a fine introduction to it by N.H. Reeve and Richard Kerridge, Nearly Too Much (1995). For some, all this exposure, combined with a move to a ‘mainstream’ publisher, has been like Bob Dylan going electric, but it represents an opportunity for the most radically innovative poet now writing to extend his ...

In the Hyacinth Garden

Richard Poirier: ‘But oh – Vivienne!’, 3 April 2003

Painted Shadow: A Life of Vivienne Eliot 
by Carole Seymour-Jones.
Constable, 702 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 1 84119 636 3
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... number or address, as he moved from one friend’s house to another. If she went to his office at Faber and Faber, he would duck into the lavatory. Hoping to catch sight of him, she frequented performances of his plays. At the back of one theatre she was spotted carrying a sign that said: ‘I am the wife he ...

What was left out

Lawrence Rainey: Eliot’s Missing Letters, 3 December 2009

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. I: 1898-1922 
edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton.
Faber, 871 pp., £35, November 2009, 978 0 571 23509 4
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... glanced at the book’s title page might be forgiven for thinking it was edited by the head of Faber and Faber’s accounting department. Over and over, Eliot adds up sums, tots up finance, and laboriously thanks anyone who has sent him a cheque, typically for verse or prose, but sometimes just to help him along (as his ...

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 ...


Ian Hamilton: A Hoax within a Hoax, 15 November 1984

... remember how our poem went but it was made up of extremely well-known lines out of, I think, the Faber Book of Modern Verse. It might even have read: April is the cruellest month Because It makes me think Continually of those who were truly great So it’s no go My honey love, it’s no go my poppet It might even have been titled ‘Do not go gentle into ...
The Invasion Handbook 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 201 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 571 20915 7
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... iambs, to demonstrate ‘his dissidence from the state’. The preface to Paulin’s excellent Faber Book of Vernacular Verse explains his preference for demotic diction and the natural cadences of Hopkins and Christina Rossetti over upper-class dialects and iambic regularities. Like Donne, he is proud to be harsh. He won’t tell the reader what is meant ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... its bibliophile vice-president, Gordon Ray) acquired the literary correspondence of the publisher Richard Bentley and Sons, principal purveyor of the three-decker novel to the Victorian reading public. At the same time, the British Library (with financial assistance from the Friends of National Libraries) took possession of most of Bentley’s ledgers and ...

One for Uncle

John Bayley, 5 April 1990

Robert Graves: The Years with Laura 1926-1940 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 297 79672 0
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... member of a big, effective clan bears out pretty well the sense implicit in her lightning sketch. Richard Perceval is the son of John, Robert’s youngest brother, who was also snubbed, patronised and cold-shouldered. Richard Perceval has written excellent studies, admirably researched, of A.E. Housman and of the Powys ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... I, Muldoon’s critical pronouncements had always been a scarce commodity, not least in The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry with its notorious editorial no-show. His Clarendon Lectures are unlikely to mean that Muldoon will be knocking down the wall between poetry and prose, but at least they represent a courtesy visit to the genre next door. In ...

Superficially Pally

Jenny Turner: Richard Sennett, 22 March 2012

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-Operation 
by Richard Sennett.
Allen Lane, 323 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 0 7139 9874 0
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... not written into any contract: self-respect, stability, social standing. Work is ‘a road’, as Richard Sennett once wrote, ‘to the unification of the self’. Except that it doesn’t usually end up like that, which is the reason the next page of the Guardian has Jeremy Bullmore, a sage and doleful-looking ‘agony uncle’, fielding people’s problems ...

When in Rom

John Sutherland, 9 June 1994

The English Poetry Full-Text Database 
editorial board: John Barnard, Derek Brewer, Lou Burnand, Howard Erskine-Hill and Danny Karlin et al.
Chadwyck-Healey, £30,000, June 1994
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... Chadwyck-Healey’s only option was to negotiate with copyright-holders and pay publishers like Faber the going rate for all Auden, all Eliot, all Larkin, all Heaney. The dealings would have taken years, the final costs would have been astronomical, the restrictions crippling, and the price to the end-user prohibitive. Clearly at some future point the law ...


Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... though, would not appear to be much of a drawback. Muldoon’s text was issued in February as a Faber paperback original, uniform with the other volumes of his fast-growing oeuvre; and its blurb invites us to consider it ‘as a dramatic poem in its own right’. This it has every appearance of being. Muldoon’s ...

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