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The Bible as Fiction

George Caird, 4 November 1982

The Story of the Stories: The Chosen People and its God 
by Dan Jacobson.
Secker, 211 pp., £8.95, September 1982, 0 436 22048 2
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The Art of Biblical Narrative 
by Robert Alter.
Allen and Unwin, 195 pp., £10, May 1982, 0 04 801022 7
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The Great Code: The Bible and Literature 
by Northrop Frye.
Routledge, 261 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7100 9038 2
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... momentous realm of history.’ Northrop Frye regards the Bible as fiction because, like William Blake, from whom he derives his title, he comes near to identifying religion with creativity. To that extent he is an ally of Alter: but to him the focus of creativity is not in narrative but in myth; and myth is a construct – ‘it belongs to the world of ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

Acrimony 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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Idols 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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Opia 
by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... overtly political work in his hands than in Pasternak’s (or in the translation of the novella by George Reavey), with Pasternak himself putting in an appearance to comment on the sacrifice of lives to political causes. On the other hand, all the imaginative sympathies here are with those who stand for the preservation of family life. The central character is ...

Social Policy

Ralf Dahrendorf, 3 July 1980

Understanding Social Policy 
by Michael Hill.
Blackwell, 280 pp., £12, April 1980, 0 631 18170 9
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Poverty and Inequality in Common Market Countries 
edited by Vic George and Roger Lawson.
Routledge, 253 pp., £9.50, April 1980, 0 7100 0424 9
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Planning for Welfare: Social Policy and the Expenditure Process 
edited by Timothy Booth.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £12, November 1980, 0 631 19560 2
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The City and Social Theory 
by Michael Peter Smith.
Blackwell, 315 pp., £12, April 1980, 9780631121510
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The Good City: A Study of Urban Development and Policy in Britain 
by David Donnison.
Heinemann, 221 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 435 85217 5
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The Economics of Prosperity: Social Priorities in the Eighties 
by David Blake and Paul Ormerod.
Grant Mclntyre, 230 pp., £3.95, April 1980, 0 86216 013 8
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... who need the compassion of the rest to survive, and to live a decent life. Who are they? Vic George and Roger Lawson provide much valuable material on Poverty and Inequality in Common Market Countries, though their book is misleading in some respects and all too predictable in others. However hard they try, they cannot persuade one reader at least that ...

Forever Krystle

Nicholas Shakespeare, 20 February 1986

Watching ‘Dallas’: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination 
by Ien Ang, translated by Della Couling.
Methuen, 148 pp., £10.50, November 1985, 0 416 41630 6
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... 26,000 women stormed the New York store. The actor John Forsythe, who plays the Creon-like Blake Carrington, was beaten over the head at Atlanta airport by a woman who abused him for daring to treat his lovely wife so badly. More disturbing still is the way real life has been vacuumed into the fantasy. In Dynasty Alexis’s daughter is played by ...

Mysteries of Kings Cross

Iain Sinclair, 5 October 1995

Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... from The Waste Land, from Chaucer to Spenser and Shakespeare and Donne, through Milton and Blake and Keats, to David Jones, Gascoyne, Dylan Thomas, Nicholas Moore, to Lee Harwood’s Cable Street, Bill Griffiths’s Whitechapel and Brian Catling’s The Stumbling Block. London infected its interpreters, soliciting contributions to an open-ended ...

Unhoused

Terry Eagleton: Anonymity, 22 May 2008

Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
Faber, 374 pp., £17.99, January 2008, 978 0 571 19514 5
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... There is a difference between what Middlemarch is seeking to do at any particular point, and what George Eliot had in mind at the time, if she had anything particular in mind at all. The literary intentions that matter are those built into a work itself, rather as the structure of a chair ‘intends’ one’s sitting on it. If I say, ‘I promise to loan you ...

I don’t even get bananas

Madeleine Schwartz: Christina Stead, 2 November 2017

The Man Who Loved Children 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 528 pp., £10, April 2016, 978 1 78497 148 9
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Letty Fox: Her Luck 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 592 pp., £14, May 2017, 978 1 78669 139 2
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... an itinerant life on the fringes of European and American society. She met her life partner, Bill Blake, a Jewish-American banker, in England. He was lively, bright, devoted to socialism and to her. ‘A small Vesuvius,’ she called him. They left Europe for New York to escape the war, then travelled back to Europe during the McCarthy hearings. (In a letter ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... turned cattle herdsman), Sir Richard Bulkeley (an early 18th-century hunchback virtuoso), William Blake (‘I see so little of Mr Blake now,’ his wife once complained: ‘He is always in Paradise’), and James Pierrepont Greaves (damned by Carlyle as a ‘blockhead’ and an ‘imbecile’), preferred to leave the world ...

Motherly Protuberances

Blake Morrison: Simon Okotie, 9 September 2021

After Absalon 
by Simon Okotie.
Salt, 159 pp., £9.99, January 2020, 978 1 78463 166 6
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... germane to their investigation and must be exhaustively scrutinised before being ruled out. George Eliot talked about the human need to filter, lest madness ensue: ‘If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... may be as much a handicap to a poet seeking approval in Britain as to come from a sunny clime, and George MacBeth’s and Gavin Ewart’s books are likely to have to answer to the charge that they lack a vision of evil. Poems from Oby would have us believe that the poet has finally, at 50, come into his own, thanks in part to his acquisition of a rectory and ...

The Shoreham Gang

Seamus Perry: Samuel Palmer, 5 April 2012

Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer 
by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Bloomsbury, 382 pp., £25, June 2011, 978 0 7475 9587 8
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... art: they called themselves ‘The Ancients’, among whom the most gifted, besides Palmer, were George Richmond and Edward Calvert. Shoreham for the Ancients functioned as, in Henry James’s phrase, ‘the Great Good Place’ – ‘a valley so hidden,’ Calvert said, ‘that it looked as if the devil had not yet found it out.’ The Shoreham spirit that ...

Wolfish

John Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry, 5 May 2005

Publisher 
by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... Maschler’s achievements as a general trade publisher rank him with Archibald Constable, George Smith, John Blackwood, George Routledge, Frederick Macmillan, David Garnett, Ian Parsons, Allen Lane. It was one of the most highly regarded of today’s younger publishers, Peter Straus (now an agent), who commissioned ...

At the Royal Academy

Rosemary Hill: The Treasures of the Society of Antiquaries, 18 October 2007

... closet Catholicism, republicanism, even as late as 1797 the antiquaries could be denounced by George III as a ‘Popish cabal’. Still, they stuck to the motto associated with their emblem, the bronze Lamp of Knowledge: non exstinguere, it ‘shall not be extinguished’. The Lamp, which is ‘curious’ – to use a favourite antiquarian adjective ...
What is Love? Richard Carlile’s Philosophy of Sex 
edited by M.L. Bush.
Verso, 214 pp., £19, September 1998, 1 85984 851 6
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... on our range of sexual satisfactions. At first glance, the enterprise looks promising. Didn’t Blake and Shelley believe in free love? Didn’t Coleridge and Southey plan to establish a liberationist commune in America? Didn’t Byron and Hazlitt write with startling candour about sex? On closer inspection, things are more tricky. Whatever their views on ...

Make the music mute

John Barrell, 9 July 1992

English Music 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 241 12501 4
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... of a music lesson taught by William Byrd, a history of English poetry in the manner of one of Blake’s prophetic books, and a perambulation of London in which Hogarth repeats passages of The Analysis of Beauty and marches Timothy through the scenes of his engravings of London life. Most compendious and extraordinary of all, there is a kaleidoscopic ...

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