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Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... idiosyncratic and contradictory way, he chose to do both. His reputation has suffered as a result. Thomas Hardy and British Poetry was first published in 1972, and written in California, where Davie had taken up a professorship at Stanford. With the Grain reprints the Hardy book in its entirety, along with a ...

Bad Books

Susannah Clapp, 4 August 1988

Criminal Justice: The True Story of Edith Thompson 
by René Weis.
Hamish Hamilton, 327 pp., £14.95, July 1988, 0 241 12263 5
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... stations and theatres, was signed by over a million people. It took a poet to applaud the verdict. Thomas Hardy enthused:         Could subtlest breast         Ever have guessed What was behind that innocent face,     Drumming, drumming! And T.S. Eliot wrote to congratulate the Daily Mail on their benign attitude towards the ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... and rancour. There is evidence that he enjoys walking, curlews, turtledoves, bullfinches, owls, Thomas Moore’s ‘Thee, Thee, Only Thee’ and much that France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my ...

Self-Positioning

Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... temporarily displaced or driven underground by the cosmopolitan experimentalism of the modernists: Thomas Hardy. It is interesting to find Gunn invoking a writer with whom he might not, at first blush, seem to have much in common. Although Hardy’s ‘mastering obsession’ is loss and ‘regret for the past’, Gunn ...

Shopping for Soap, Fudge and Biscuit Tins

John Pemble: Literary Tourists, 7 June 2007

The Literary Tourist 
by Nicola J. Watson.
Palgrave, 244 pp., £45, October 2006, 1 4039 9992 9
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... of this and that. It buys from Oxfam books like The Brontë Country, Dickens’s London, With Hardy in Dorset, Literary Bypaths of Old England, The Land of Scott. Academic libraries don’t cater for it, and academic critics have about as much regard for it as they have for Disney World or back numbers of Reader’s Digest. It’s been out of favour since ...

Taking what you get

Walter Kendrick, 6 December 1984

Getting to know the General: The Story of an Involvement 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 224 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 370 30808 5
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Saints, Sinners and Comedians: The Novels of Graham Greene 
by Roger Sharrock.
Burns and Oates, 298 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 86012 134 8
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Travels in Greeneland: The Cinema of Graham Greene 
by Quentin Falk.
Quartet, 229 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 7043 2425 3
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The Other Man: Conversations with Graham Greene 
by Marie-Françoise Allain.
Bodley Head, 187 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30468 3
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... year or so tossing a new stumbling-block into the path of those who would like to understand them. Thomas Hardy was England’s worst offender in this regard: but Graham Greene, now 80, bids fair to give Hardy a run for his money. Not in quality, of course. Even Greene’s most enthusiastic advocates wouldn’t attempt ...
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 
edited by T.F. Hoad.
Oxford, 552 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780198611820
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Dictionary of Changes in Meaning 
by Adrian Room.
Routledge, 292 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7102 0341 1
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The Story of English 
by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert McNeil.
Faber/BBC, 384 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 563 20247 5
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Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. I: Introduction and A-C 
edited by Frederic Cassidy.
Harvard, 903 pp., $60, July 1985, 0 674 20511 1
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... Thomas Hardy once told Robert Graves how he had gone to the Oxford English Dictionary to confirm the existence of a dialect word he proposed to use in a poem, and came to a standstill because the only authority quoted for it was his own Under the Greenwood Tree. This is an acute case of our dependence on dictionaries, and illustrates the commonest reason for resorting to them ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason, 7 September 2000

Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... of his life’. These arguments were first unveiled in September 1794 in the indictments against Thomas Hardy, shoemaker and secretary of the LCS, John Horne Tooke, philologist and radical man of letters, and John Thelwall, Jacobin orator and poet. In the months preceding these arrests most of the action had occurred north of the border. It was crucial ...

Bitten by an Adder

Tim Parks: ‘The Return of the Native’, 17 July 2014

The Return of the Native 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Simon Avery.
Broadview, 512 pp., £9.50, April 2013, 978 1 55481 070 3
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... What a pleasure​ to return to Thomas Hardy. For about a hundred pages. Then the torment begins, and we’re not even halfway through. From now on each turn of the page will expose the reader to greater unhappiness. There’s a moment in The Return of the Native where the main character, Clym, already deeply troubled by his mother’s mysterious death, goes out of his way to find a little boy who may be able to tell him exactly what happened ...

Apocalypse

David Trotter, 14 September 1989

The Rainbow 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 672 pp., £55, March 1989, 0 521 22869 7
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D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World 
edited by Peter Preston and Peter Hoare.
Macmillan, 221 pp., £29.50, May 1989, 0 333 45269 0
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D.H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreading 
by Peter Balbert.
Macmillan, 190 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 333 43964 3
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... including The Rainbow. Lawrence’s descriptions of the life of the body connect him with Thomas Hardy, a novelist deeply implicated in 19th-century materialism, and one he was writing about in the second half of 1914, shortly before he began to revise ‘The Wedding Ring’. Hardy was fascinated by the way a ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Adam Elsheimer, 2 November 2006

... as a single frame can come to telling a sequential story. In the opening pages of The Woodlanders Thomas Hardy shows light pulling fragments of life out of darkness in much the same way. A stranger approaches a village: ‘they turned into a half-invisible little lane, whence, as it reached the verge of an eminence, could be discerned in the dusk, about ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Hunger Games’, 17 December 2015

... bank or shopping mall is handy. The heroine’s name combines a plant with a character from Thomas Hardy: Katniss Everdeen. If you frivolously mishear it as Catnip, as I did, you can be reassured: that’s what a friend calls her in the novel. The chief bad guy is called Coriolanus, and the place where it all happens, to quote the first book, is a ...

A Life of Henry Reed

Jon Stallworthy, 12 September 1991

... man about town. He gained a first-class degree at Birmingham in 1934 and wrote a notable thesis on Thomas Hardy, leaving the University two years later as its youngest MA. Like most of his Birmingham contemporaries, he had so far lived at home, but was not a happy member of the household. Hal was ashamed of his parents, or so they felt, and only his ...

Mighty Causes

Mark Kishlansky: The English Civil Wars, 11 June 2009

The English Civil Wars 1640-60 
by Blair Worden.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £12.99, January 2009, 978 0 297 84888 2
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... Thomas Hardy, it is said, believed the history of humanity could be written in six words: ‘They lived, they suffered, they died.’ As a historical account this was more than adequate. It depicted change over time, contained a point of view, and encapsulated a universally applicable lesson. What detail the story lacked could be supplied by readers, each in their own way ...

Lotti’s Leap

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 July 1982

Collected Poems and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Val Warner.
Carcanet/Virago, 445 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 85635 260 8
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... driver whenever a cab was called, and was half-mad with excitement at Christmas. She told Florence Hardy that she ‘never outgrew the snowflakes’. And yet when she was only seven two of her brothers died – one a baby, one, her great playmate, a six-year-old. Lotti, as was then considered right, was taken in to see him in his coffin. The steadying ...

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