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In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

TheShakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... Anne Barton​ delivered the lectures on ‘The Shakespearean Forest’ that form the basis for this, her much anticipated last book, in Cambridge in 2003. The Clark Lectures were themselves the product of an extended reflection on the significance of Shakespeare’s imaginary woodlands, developing and expanding material from earlier lectures and essays ...

Memories We Get to Keep

James Meek: James Salter’s Apotheosis, 20 June 2013

All That Is 
by James Salter.
Picador, 290 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3824 9
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Collected Stories 
by James Salter.
Picador, 303 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3938 3
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... carried the glamour and danger of scandal and shame, Dean and a local girl in her late teens, Anne-Marie, become lovers. The photographer, who narrates and, as he breaks off to explain to the reader, invents the details of Dean and Anne-Marie’s sexual journey, nonetheless frames the story in terms of his own ...


Anne Enright: Censorship in Ireland, 21 March 2013

... Yeats and Synge showed much disdain for the world of commerce, however, and the noble or savage Irish peasant was always to be distinguished from the British working classes who were, in any case, in decline. This was evidenced by their use of contraception, according to Oliver St John Gogarty, who said, during the 1929 Séanad debate on the ...


Russell Davies, 18 June 1981

Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... more deeply. As Mailer wrote (it is one of the texts quoted near the close of Alvarez’s Savage God), ‘the private terror of the liberal spirit is invariably suicide, not murder.’ In the light of the assaults on Lennon and Reagan, it might be truer, today, to say that murder is the form in which America’s suicidal impulse has begun to express ...

A Writer’s Fancy

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1980

Hackenfeller’s Ape 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 125 pp., £5.50, October 1980, 0 85031 314 7
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by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 124 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 9780850313185
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The Snow Ball 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 143 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 0 85031 316 3
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... for more. There is in fact not a really vicious character in the novel. The keeper Tom shoots the savage ape who is apparently attacking him (caught in a recognisably human situation, Percy is actually hastening to him as a friend), but is instrumental in saving Percy’s son. Gloria is a thief and a sniveller, but she applies her professional skills to ...


Joan Aiken, 17 July 1980

... problem; the word mortgage had a fearsome ring then, which it may have regained today. There was Anne of Green Gables, straight from the orphanage and received coldly because she had red hair and should have been a boy. There was Tom Sawyer, painting the fence for Aunt Polly. Boys did not seem to work quite so hard as girls. Huck Finn, of course, is the ...

Send them to Eton!

Linda Colley, 19 August 1993

The End of the House of Windsor: Birth of a British Republic 
by Stephen Haseler.
Tauris, 208 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 1 85043 735 1
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The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 211 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 1 85619 354 3
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Royal Throne: The Future of the Monarchy 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Hodder, 189 pp., £16.99, April 1993, 0 340 58587 0
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Diana v. Charles 
by James Whitaker.
Signet, 237 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 670 85245 7
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The Tarnished Crown 
by Anthony Holden.
Bantam, 400 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 593 02472 9
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Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family 
by Dennis Friedman.
Sidgwick, 212 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 283 06124 3
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Raine and Johnnie: The Spencers and the Scandal of Althorp 
by Angela Levin.
Weidenfeld, 297 pp., £17.99, July 1993, 0 297 81325 0
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... Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story suggested that sycophantic royal biographies were out, and savage royal exposés were in. Hence the commissioning of a spate of Mortonesque knife-jobs. It was also supposed that what the Sun called the Queen’s bum year might be followed by an even worse year in 1993. This was naive. Like the practised survivors that ...

Doing the bores

Rosemary Ashton, 21 March 1991

The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke–Edinburgh Edition. Vols XVI-XVIII: 1843-4 
edited by Clyde Ryals and Kenneth Fielding.
Duke, 331 pp., £35.65, July 1990, 9780822309192
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... He described conditions in Formby in a (hitherto unpublished) letter to Jane. It was ‘the most savage-looking establishment of human habitations, – I cannot call it village’, with its ‘green stagnant ditches and midden-holes’ and ‘without “lodging” in it that we could notice for anything bulkier than a rabbit’. As for the plight of poor ...

Your life depends on it

Thomas Jones: Jonathan Raban, 19 October 2006

by Jonathan Raban.
Picador, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 330 41338 4
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... mingling’. ‘Alida was hungry for realism. Most of her favourite books were non-fiction, like Anne Frank’s diary . . . books where stuff happened because there was no other way for it to happen, however much the author might have wanted it to happen differently.’ That said, she also has a weakness for Agatha Christie and Miss Marple’s fussy talent ...


Mark Ford: Donald Justice, 16 November 2006

Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... delicately induce the hypnotic state that Bishop described as her artistic ideal in a letter to Anne Stevenson: ‘What one seems to want in art, in experiencing it, is the same thing that is necessary for its creation, a self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration.’ A tiny poem, ‘The Thin Man’, in Justice’s second collection, Night Light ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... Alongside the monuments Bray presents and describes are some startling texts. On 12 February 1834, Anne Lister recorded in her diary her plans to solemnise her union with Ann Walker: ‘She is to give me a ring & I her one in token of our union.’ Their relationship ‘would be as good as a marriage’, Ann had said. ‘Yes,’ said ...

Social Arrangements

John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... the enthusiasm of the headmaster. But there is every difference here between the author of The Savage God and the author of the recent sober and scholarly study of the Movement poets. Blake Morrison, and his co-editor Andrew Motion, are well aware that ‘in the face of manifesto-making a degree of scepticism is only proper’; and they are careful neither ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... would have been much better placed to think about these matters had they been able to consult Anne Buck’s Dress in 18th-century England (1978), whose immense range of sound research makes it far more easy to draw out the cultural meanings of dress, on and off the stage. Nicoll’s capacity to deal with all the things he leaves out cannot be ...

Superior Persons

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1986

Travels with a Superior Person 
by Lord Curzon, edited by Peter King.
Sidgwick, 191 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 283 99294 8
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The Ladies of Castlebrae 
by A. Whigham Price.
Alan Sutton, 242 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 228 1
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Lizzie: A Victorian Lady’s Amazon Adventure 
by Tony Morrison, Anne Brown and Ann Rose.
BBC, 160 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 563 20424 9
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Miss Fane in India 
by [author], edited by John Pemble.
Alan Sutton, 246 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 240 0
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Explorers Extraordinary 
by John Keay.
Murray/BBC Publications, 195 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 7195 4249 9
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A Visit to Germany, Italy and Malta 1840-41 
by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Grace Thornton.
Peter Owen, 182 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 7206 0636 5
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The Irish Sketch-Book 1842 
by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Blackstaff, 368 pp., £9.95, December 1985, 0 85640 340 7
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Mr Rowlandson’s England 
by Robert Southey, edited by John Steel.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 202 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 907462 77 4
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... his nonsense about cannibals in Australia. In much the same class was his contemporary, A. Henry Savage Landor, grandson of the poet. As a boy he half-hanged himself, which, as Keay remarks, was excellent training for being towed by the throat behind Tibetan ponies. Worse things than that supposedly happened to him in the Himalayas, where he ‘took to heart ...


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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... cannot be sung. His operatic approach is, however, at the opposite pole to that of, say, the poet Anne Ridler, who meticulously produces ‘singing’ (syllabically integral) versions of Monteverdi’s stage works, and leaves her own artistic preoccupations to one side. The clarification of literary means effected by Muldoon, apparently on behalf of opera, is ...

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