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As deadly as the male

D.J. Enright, 12 September 1991

Women Who Kill 
by Ann Jones.
Gollancz, 482 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 0 575 05139 6
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... The woman who kills is exactly what she is supposed not to be,’ Beatrix Campbell declares in her foreword to Women Who Kill. Killing is reckoned unnatural in a woman, or downright impossible: if she does kill, she isn’t a woman. Unlike men, Ann Jones says, women usually confine themselves to killing their intimates, their husbands, lovers, children ...

Chinese Whispers

D.J. Enright, 18 June 1981

The Woman Warrior 
by Maxine Hong Kingston.
Picador, 186 pp., £1.50, March 1981, 0 330 26400 1
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China Men 
by Maxine Hong Kingston.
Picador, 301 pp., £1.50, March 1981, 0 330 26367 6
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... The subtitle of Maxine Hong Kingston’s first book, The Woman Warrior (now published in paperback), embodies a pun: ‘Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts’ – that is to say, among Chinese story-ghosts and also among non-Chinese, who by definition are ghosts, if not demons. ‘Those of us in the first American generations have had to figure out how the invisible world the emigrants built around our childhoods fits in solid America ...

One blushes to admit it

D.J. Enright, 11 June 1992

The Heart of Europe: Essays on Literature and Ideology 
by J.P. Stern.
Blackwell, 415 pp., £45, April 1992, 0 631 15849 9
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... There are European authors, notably those writing in German, whom we perceive to be important, intimidatingly so, but with whom we find it hard to come to grips, despite the existence of extremely skilled translations. Some of these authors are possibly less brilliant or wise than they appear to be, or than, given our nagging though commonly well-concealed sense of intellectual inferiority, we resignedly suppose them to be ...

How to Kowtow

D.J. Enright: The thoughts of China, 29 July 1999

The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds 
by Jonathan Spence.
Penguin, 279 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7139 9313 8
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... One aspect of a country’s greatness is surely its capacity to attract and retain the attention of others. This capacity has been evident from the very beginnings of the West’s encounter with China; the passing centuries have never managed to obliterate it altogether, even though vagaries of fashion and shifting political stances have at times dulled the sheen ...

Juliet

D.J. Enright, 18 September 1980

Flaubert and an English Governess 
by Hermia Oliver.
Oxford, 212 pp., £9.50, June 1980, 0 19 815764 9
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The Letters of Gustave Flaubert 1830-1857 
edited and translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Harvard, 270 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 674 52636 8
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... The English governess in question – very much in question – was Juliet Herbert, governess at the Flaubert home in Croisset to Flaubert’s much-loved niece, Caroline, between 1854/5 and 1857. Her acquaintanceship with the novelist lasted till his death in 1880, but the nature of the acquaintanceship is in dispute. The most tender of Flaubert’s affairs? Or a non-affair? Hermia Oliver believes that Juliet was ‘almost certainly’ Flaubert’s mistress: but the present book, a record of indefatigable research and meagre revelations, is stuffed with ‘probably’s’, ‘may’s’, ‘if’s’ and ‘just possible’s’, a case of seeking hopefully rather than arriving ...

Swift radiant morning

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1991

The Collected Letters of Charles Hamilton Sorley 
edited by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 310 pp., £25, November 1990, 9780900821547
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Ivor Gurney: Collected Letters 
edited by R.K.R Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 579 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 85635 941 6
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... Charles Sorley must have been the most brilliant of all the young poets who died in the First World War. Yet ‘brilliant’, with its flashy, brittle connotations, isn’t the right word. He was undeniably clever, and forthright, but also good-humoured and modest, often very funny, shrewd and serious, but never (the young man’s vice) priggish. His intelligence, far from bullying, evinced itself in a throwaway manner, and there was nothing calculated about his charm ...

A heart with testicles

D.J. Enright, 9 May 1991

Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Vol. I: The Poetry of Desire, 1749-1790 
by Nicholas Boyle.
Oxford, 827 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 19 815866 1
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... Not to know Goethe,’ A.W. Schlegel wrote poetically, ‘is to be a Goth.’ Nicholas Boyle begins the preface to Volume One of his biography of the great man by stating, altogether correctly alas, that more must be known, ‘or at any rate there must be more to know’, about him than about almost any other human being. A shilling life could never have given you all the facts about Goethe ...

The Honour of Defeat

D.J. Enright, 3 December 1981

The Life of Villiers de I’Isle-Adam 
by A.W. Raitt.
Oxford, 470 pp., £25, October 1981, 0 19 815771 1
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... Born in 1838, Jean-Marie-Mathias-Philippe-Auguste, Comte de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam came of an illustrious Breton line, latterly more distinguished for its poverty and eccentricity. His grandfather, who fought against the Revolution but failed to thrive under the Restoration, wrote to the Minister of Justice in 1815 that, had his name not been so long already, he would have asked the reigning monarch, Louis XVIII, ‘to add to it that of “poor devil”, and that is a name I really deserve ...

Omdamniverous

Ian Sansom: D.J. Enright, 25 September 2003

Injury Time: A Memoir 
by D.J. Enright.
Pimlico, 183 pp., £12.50, May 2003, 9781844133154
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... This is the end of something – although of what exactly it’s not quite clear. The death of D.J. Enright, in December 2002, makes one ask some serious questions about poets and about critics. To put it bluntly: there will be no more books from Dennis Enright. Does it matter? Should we be sad? Should we be bothered? Writing in the LRB just over twenty years ago, the near-omniscient Donald Davie pre-empted these questions and delivered a cruel judgment ...

Puck’s Dream

Mark Ford, 14 June 1990

Selected Poems 1990 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 176 pp., £6.95, March 1990, 0 19 282625 5
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Life by Other Means: Essays on D.J. Enright 
edited by Jacqueline Simms.
Oxford, 208 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 19 212989 9
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Vanishing Lung Syndrome 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by David Young and Dana Habova.
Faber, 68 pp., £10.99, April 1990, 0 571 14378 4
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The Dimension of the Present Moment, and Other Essays 
by Miroslav Holub, edited by David Young.
Faber, 146 pp., £4.99, April 1990, 0 571 14338 5
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Poems Before and After: Collected English Translations 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by Ewald Osers and George Theiner.
Bloodaxe, 272 pp., £16, April 1990, 1 85224 121 7
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My Country: Collected Poems 
by Alistair Elliot.
Carcanet, 175 pp., £18.95, November 1989, 0 85635 846 0
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1953: A Version of Racine’s ‘Andromaque’ 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 571 14312 1
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Andromache 
by Jean Racine, translated by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 571 14249 4
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... D.J. Enright recently celebrated his 70th birthday. In commemoration, Oxford University Press have prepared a rather lean Selected Poems, and a volume of personal reminiscences and critical essays about Enright’s life and work by a variety of writers. This festschrift’s title, Life by Other Means, derives from an Enright poem called ‘Poetical Justice’ which muses rather more ambiguously on the relations between art and life than the stirring phrase might suggest in isolation ...

Lyrics and Ironies

Christopher Ricks, 4 December 1986

The Alluring Problem: An Essay on Irony 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 178 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 19 212253 3
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Czeslaw Milosz and the Insufficiency of Lyric 
by Donald Davie.
Cambridge, 76 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 521 32264 2
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... Faintly repelled by elaborate theories of irony and by taxonomies of it, D.J. Enright has set himself to muster instances, observations, localities and anecdotes. There is no continuing argument, and not much argufying even, but there are plenty of penetrating glances. ‘Rather than theory, it is something resembling “practical criticism” that this book will concern itself with: the exploration of individual ironies as they are manifest in life as well as in literature ...

Hearing about Damnation

Donald Davie, 3 December 1981

Collected Poems 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 262 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 19 211941 9
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... it must be considered deliberately, and at some length. Twenty-four years ago, reviewing Enright’s Bread Rather than Blossoms (for all practical purposes his second collection – leaving aside, that is, his 1948 Season Ticket, published in Alexandria), I exhorted him to remember ‘the deeper reaches (and so the deeper humanity) of the art he ...

A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

A Martian sends a postcard home 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 46 pp., £2.95
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Arcadia 
by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 50 pp., £2.75
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Love-Life 
by Hugo Williams.
Whizzard Press/Deutsch, 40 pp., £2.95
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A Faust Book 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.25, September 1979, 0 19 211895 1
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Time 
by Yehuda Amichai.
Oxford, 88 pp., £3.50
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... Tee-tum, tee-tum. Poetry should not make one itch for a blue pencil in this way. D.J. Enright’s A Faust Book comes with a recommendation from the Poetry Book Society. For my part, I have always found Enright’s sense of humour, as revealed in his poetry, to be feeble. This time round – well, listen: Oi ...

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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... wider public attention, its defining genre was the anthology. Poets of the 1950s, edited by D.J. Enright, appeared in 1955, followed a year later by New Lines, edited by Robert Conquest. Enright’s volume contained work by eight poets: Robert Conquest, D.J. Enright, Kingsley ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... for an edition of 1981 (in relation to the Pléiade text of 1954), and revised again by D.J. Enright in 1993 (in response to what Prendergast calls ‘the curiously monstrous 1987 Pléiade edition’). Along the way the Shakespearean title Remembrance of Things Past turned into the more literal, and less literary, In Search of Lost Time. Hazzard is ...

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