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Michael Wood: Oblomov, 6 August 2009

by Ivan Goncharov, translated by Marian Schwartz.
Seven Stories, 553 pp., £15.99, January 2009, 978 1 58322 840 1
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... which comes across in very similar fashion in the other translations I’ve looked at (those of Ann Dunnigan, David Magarshack and Natalie Duddington), offers a fine example of sly and compassionate satire, a very rare genre indeed: In walked a man of indeterminate age and indeterminate physiognomy, at that time of life when it can be difficult to guess a ...


Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... in 1771. Among his contemporaries, only Frances Burney was at the height of her powers. Neither Ann Radcliffe, whose Gothic romances would soon enjoy immense popularity, nor the younger radical novelists such as Godwin, Wollstonecraft and Holcroft – with whom Bage is most commonly linked – had yet begun to publish. In these circumstances, Bage’s ...

Reduced to Ashes and Rubbage

Jessie Childs: Civil War Traumas, 3 January 2019

Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars 
edited by David Appleby and Andrew Hopper.
Manchester, 247 pp., £80, July 2018, 978 1 5261 2480 7
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... the 1640s. For royalists like Reresby, those who took up arms against the king were taking on God. Ann Fanshawe, the daughter of a royalist MP, who was 17 when she fled to Charles I’s wartime headquarters in Oxford, likened herself to a fish out of water. The conflict between king and Parliament was supposed to end with one big battle at Edgehill on 23 ...

The Italy of Human Beings

Frances Wilson: Felicia Hemans, 16 November 2000

Felicia Hemans: ‘Records of Woman’ with Other Poems 
edited by Paula Feldman.
Kentucky, 248 pp., £15.50, September 1999, 0 8131 0964 7
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... work of an English poetess’. Does she deserve a permanent place alongside Wordsworth and Byron? Scott regretted that he found in her ‘too many flowers and too little fruit’, and her modern critics divide into those picking the flowers and those enjoying the fruit. For the former, Hemans is no more than a writer of light verse for a middlebrow ...

Three feet on the ground

Marilyn Butler, 7 July 1983

William Wordsworth: The Borders of Vision 
by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Oxford, 496 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 19 812097 4
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William Wordsworth: The Poetry of Grandeur and of Tenderness 
by David Pirie.
Methuen, 301 pp., £14.95, March 1982, 0 416 31300 0
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Benjamin the Waggoner 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Paul Betz.
Cornell/Harvester, 356 pp., £40, September 1981, 0 85527 513 8
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... 1798 and 1799, 1802, 1804-5), true fellow-feeling is very rare. The Prelude has its moments – Ann Tyson asleep on her bible in IV, the hunger-bitten girl of IX, the London artificer – but neither VIII (‘Love of Nature Leading to Love of Mankind’) nor VII (designed presumably to represent Experience, a seeing how the others live) turns out to be ...
... revolted by that book, and American intellectuals have never put him beside Faulkner, Hemingway or Scott Fitzgerald. And on the Continent there is no translation of Waugh as audacious as Avanti Jeeves. And yet even those who praise him nearly always begin by dissociating themselves from what they regard as his bigotry, his snobbery, his cruelty, his ...

Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... the most literate people in their village: Parker Clare could certainly read, although his wife, Ann Stimson, did not know a single letter of the alphabet and, like many country people, regarded printed texts as a form of witchcraft. At this time, Bate notes, illiteratemeant not ‘unable to read’ but ‘ignorant of polite letters’. Clare and a twin ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reader 
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... of the most prominent figures missing from Finkelstein and McCleery’s Reader, David Scott Kastan, has riffed on ‘New Criticism’, ‘New Historicism’ and ‘New Bibliography’ to dub his expertise the ‘New Boredom’.) The New Critics took ‘the poem itself’ where they found it, in cheap paperback reprints available even at ...

Watch this man

Pankaj Mishra: Niall Ferguson’s Burden, 3 November 2011

Civilisation: The West and the Rest 
by Niall Ferguson.
Allen Lane, 402 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 84614 273 4
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... Buchanan is nervous about other upstarts rising out of nowhere to challenge the master race. Scott Fitzgerald based Goddard, at least partly, on Theodore Lothrop Stoddard, the author of the bestseller The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy (1920). Stoddard’s fame was a sign of his times, of the overheated racial climate of the early ...

Adulation or Eggs

Susan Eilenberg: At home with the Carlyles, 7 October 2004

Thomas and Jane Carlyle: Portrait of a Marriage 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Pimlico, 560 pp., £15, February 2003, 0 7126 6634 6
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... Thackeray, Dickens, Tennyson, the Brownings, George Lewes (though Jane refused to have Mary Ann Evans in the house), Lady Harriet Baring and William Bingham Baring, Charles and Erasmus Darwin, Margaret Fuller, Ruskin, Ellen Twisleton, Margaret Oliphant, Froude: practically everybody, or at least practically everybody who either liked to talk or could ...

Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... or Beyoncé popular; but neither is she some divisive figure out on the blasted perimeter, like Scott Walker. Devoted fans prize her as one of our culture’s great ungovernable Outsiders. This fan club includes the grandees of the French establishment, who in 2005 named her a commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, making Smith about as much of an ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... mid-19th centuries: Milton, Hobbes, Dryden, Locke, Addison, Pope, Hume, Johnson, Gibbon, Smith, Scott, Austen, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Malthus, Carlyle, Dickens, Macaulay, Mill, George Eliot and more. The passing of the heroic age of biographical dictionary-making is nowhere more clearly signalled than in the fact that in the ODNB the entries for these 20 ...

Dark Emotions

Jenny Turner: The Women’s Liberation Movement, 24 September 2020

directed by Philippa Lowthorpe.
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directed by the Berwick Street Film Collective.
Lux/Koenig/Raven Row, £24, July 2019
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Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the UK Women's Liberation Movement, 1968-present 
by Margaretta Jolly.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.99, November 2019, 978 0 19 065884 7
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... breaks of blackness, harsh juxtapositions of sound and image, snatches of ‘Pirate Jenny’ and Scott Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’. Everything is difficult and uncomfortable and unpleasant, everybody is tired out and knows they’re failing, including, I’d imagine, the filmmakers, who must have known their work would be of no use to the people it was ...

Loafing with the Sissies

Colm Tóibín: The Trials of Andy Warhol, 10 September 2020

Warhol: A Life as Art 
by Blake Gopnik.
Allen Lane, 931 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00338 1
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... launched in 1851, the omissions go back a long way. They include Charlotte Brontë and stretch to Scott Joplin, Alan Turing, Sylvia Plath and Diane Arbus.On 26 June this year, the paper ran a belated obituary of Valerie Solanas, who died in 1988 and is famous for having shot Andy Warhol twenty years earlier. The year before the shooting, Solanas published the ...

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