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Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... several unpublished novels: the incomplete ‘Who Else Is Rank?’, written in 1944-45 with E. Frank Coles, a fellow officer in the Army Signals Corps; ‘The Legacy’, written in 1948-49, and ‘rejected by, I think, 14 publishers’ (its protagonist is ‘Kingsley Amis’, like the character ‘Martin Amis’ in Money); or the unfinished ‘Difficulties ...

Wright and Wrong

Peter Campbell, 10 November 1988

Many Masks: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright 
by Brendan Gill.
Heinemann, 544 pp., £20, August 1988, 0 434 29273 7
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... Those who have tried to make sense of Frank Lloyd Wright’s own account of his life will be grateful to Brendan Gill. He relieves us of doubts about our intelligence. As you read the Autobiography much does not quite fit. The feeling grows on you, as it must on the victims of confidence tricksters, that you cannot follow the story because you are stupid ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara, 20 July 2000

In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... Open Frank O’Hara’s Collected Poems at random, somewhere in the middle, and you may get what looks like a Post-It note to a friend, or versified notes on a Jackson Pollock painting, a James Dean movie or ‘the music of Adolphe Deutsch’. You may also get one of many enticing, informal, secretly-complex poems that sound like nobody else ever has: How can you start hating me when I’m so comfortable in your raincoat the apples kept bumping off the old gnarled banged-up biddy-assed tree and I kept ducking and hugging and bobbing as if you were a tub of water on Hallowe’en it was fun but you threw yourself into reverse like a tractor hugging the ground in spring that was nice too more rain more raincoat                                  (‘Adventures In Living’) Who was O’Hara, and how did he learn to write like that? Born in 1926, he grew up in small towns in Massachusetts, studied piano seriously throughout high school and served in the Navy at the close of World War II ...

Being that can be understood is language

Richard Rorty: H.-G. Gadamer, 16 March 2000

... the so-called ‘analytic’ tradition in philosophy – the tradition that goes back to Frege and Russell and whose most prominent living representatives are Quine, Davidson, Dummett and Putnam – must return a negative answer. For that tradition is often thought of as a sort of public relations agency for the natural sciences. Those who think of analytic ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... spring and by the imprisonment of the Crown’s principal critics within it. The lecture by Conrad Russell, the dominant historian of the politics of the period, found no place for such sentiments. To him the substance of early modern Parliamentary activity lies in the grind and details of the legislative process, not in the declamatory gestures of the ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... response to Coleman in the jazz world was captured with admirable candour by the composer George Russell, in Shirley Clarke’s documentary Made in America4, as ‘a feeling of apprehension. A feeling of being threatened by this mind of yours.’ Russell confessed to Coleman that ‘when I finally met you … my worst ...

Educating the planet

Frank Kermode, 20 March 1980

... that they could not possibly say what they mean.’ He held Wittgenstein in only moderate awe. Russell he dismissed in a brisk appendix to The Meaning of Meaning, though he had from time to time to repeat and revise his reasons for doing so. However, mention of The Meaning of Meaning is a reminder that in his first and seminal book (for The Meaning of ...

Made in Heaven

Frank Kermode, 10 November 1994

Frieda Lawrence 
by Rosie Jackson.
Pandora, 240 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 9780044409151
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The Married Man: A Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Brenda Maddox.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 631 pp., £20, August 1994, 1 85619 243 1
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Kangaroo 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 493 pp., £60, August 1994, 0 521 38455 9
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Twilight in Italy and Other Essays 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Paul Eggert.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £55, August 1994, 0 521 26888 5
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... theory of Mutterrecht had a vogue, long since ended, and also of Edward Carpenter and Bertrand Russell, as well as of her early lover Otto Gross and other pre-war German thinkers and doers. Her performance as a mother must also be shown to be impeccable. Of course it is right to say that Lawrence behaved very badly about the children, though whether her ...

The Savage Life

Frank Kermode: The Adventures of William Empson, 19 May 2005

William Empson: Vol. I: Among the Mandarins 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 695 pp., £30, April 2005, 0 19 927659 5
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... of religious questions’. Visiting speakers were of the calibre of G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, who told the meeting that the Ten Commandments were like an examination paper and should bear the rubric: ‘Only six need be attempted.’ Empson was also starting to be known as a poet and as an occasionally brilliant reviewer in Granta. He did some ...

Welly-Whanging

Thomas Jones: Alan Hollinghurst, 6 May 2004

The Line of Beauty 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 501 pp., £16.99, April 2004, 9780330483209
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... aristocrat of leisure. He lives in Holland Park, swims at the Corinthian Club, a gay gym on Great Russell Street (‘the masterpiece of the architect Frank Orme, whom I once met at my grandfather’s’), and picks up men everywhere. In a public lavatory in Hyde Park, he picks up, in a quite different sense, an elderly man ...

Self-Made Aristocrats

Adam Phillips: The Wittgensteins and Their Money, 4 December 2008

The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War 
by Alexander Waugh.
Bloomsbury, 366 pp., £20, September 2008, 978 0 7475 9185 6
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... person had suddenly become famous and an intellectual giant in England.’ The philosophers Frank Ramsey, Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore are described by Waugh as having ‘fallen under the spell of Ludwig’s striking looks, manner and extraordinarily persuasive personality’. Waugh certainly hasn’t fallen under ...

Advanced Thought

William Empson, 24 January 1980

Genesis of Secrecy 
by Frank Kermode.
Harvard, 169 pp., £5.50, June 1979, 0 674 34525 8
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... Frank Kermode’s new book contains a great deal of graceful and dignified prose, especially in the last chapter, and many of the examples are of great interest. It seems to argue that no history or biography can be believed, but must be regarded as a kind of novel. Any narrative is necessarily incomplete, and the details left out may for some readers be the important ones – what is taken for granted may become the crucial question ...

Oh God, what have we done?

Jackson Lears: The Strange Career of Robert Oppenheimer, 20 December 2012

Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 224 06262 6
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... toward Robert intensified when his little brother Lewis died in infancy. A third son, Frank, was born in 1912, too young to be a playmate for the lonely Robert, though they became companions as adults.* Isolated from other children at an early age, Robert developed keen intellectual abilities while his social skills remained stunted.That became ...

Not a Damn Thing

Nick Laird: In Yeats’s wake, 18 August 2005

Collected Poems 
by Patrick Kavanagh, edited by Antoinette Quinn.
Allen Lane, 299 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 7139 9599 8
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... In April 1959 Frank O’Connor wrote to his editor at the New Yorker to say that he had taken ‘the family up to Sligo to see how Yeats was getting on’. Since Yeats had been dead twenty years, he should have been getting on just fine. But: Even he seemed to be disgruntled. Kavanagh the ex-poet ran into me soon after I came home, and the following conversation took place exactly as recorded ...

Diary

Will Self: Walking out of London, 20 October 2011

... Travelodge because they’re ‘pet-friendly’ – on this walk we were accompanied by our Jack Russell instead of my usual black dog. Child and dog slept heavily, but I scrunched up by the small window, smoking illegally and staring out to the northwest where the sodium-lit realm of the airport showed up as an orange nimbus against the purple night sky. In ...

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