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The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... recently with a Cabinet Minister will know that it is not just the labourer who is thus incapable. John Buchan, whose grandson I am, was a late and flesh-and-blood representative of that lost epoch before economic expediency: a writer who not so much rejected the division of labour (Baudelaire and the Romantics do that) as overcame it. He fascinated his age ...

Shock Cities

Susan Pedersen: The Fate of Social Democracy, 2 January 2020

Thatcher’s Progress: From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town 
by Guy Ortolano.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £29.99, June 2019, 978 1 108 48266 0
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Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England 
by Jon Lawrence.
Oxford, 327 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 0 19 877953 7
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... the experiment, is never quite addressed. For help with these matters, we can turn, though, to Jon Lawrence’s Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England. The book is based on a careful rereading of the records of ten major community studies in postwar England (Lawrence doesn’t look at Scotland, Wales or ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites, 12 September 2013

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... on Eliot’s poetry given at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 1968 and another on Eliot and Lawrence from the early 1970s. Admittedly he was by then in his seventies and these performances can hardly represent him at his most potent. Any listener now will be struck by the peculiar voice: reedy, nasal, lisping. He reads in an incantatory monotone. In ...

May I come to your house to philosophise?

John Barrell: Godwin’s Letters, 8 September 2011

The Letters of William Godwin Vol. I: 1778-97 
by Pamela Clemit.
Oxford, 306 pp., £100, February 2011, 978 0 19 956261 9
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... during the darkest period of his mourning. The volume includes letters to Joseph Priestley, Thomas Lawrence, John Thelwall, Samuel Parr (‘the Whig Dr Johnson’), the great liberal advocate Thomas Erskine, R.B. Sheridan, Charles James Fox, the novelists and dramatists Elizabeth Inchbald, Thomas Holcroft, Amelia ...

Female Heads

John Bayley, 27 October 1988

Woman to Woman: Female Friendship in Victorian Fiction 
by Tess Cosslett.
Harvester, 211 pp., £29.95, July 1988, 0 7108 1015 6
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Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century 
by John Mullan.
Oxford, 261 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 19 812865 7
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The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. Vol. I: 1768-1773 
edited by Lars Troide.
Oxford, 353 pp., £45, June 1988, 9780198125815
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... Fanny Burney and Jane Austen, should have taken their feminine image from Richardson-Clarissa. As John Mullan shows in his useful and scholarly book, the early prestige of Richardson went underground, his ‘fairer and better sex’ taking on its vulgar Victorian form, but also appearing metamorphosed in George Eliot’s measured approval (‘we have fallen ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... people take little interest in it, or in the feel of what was being said and written at the time. Lawrence, Yeats and Eliot go marching on, attracting obedient attention from each new generation of students, but this form of academic perpetuity does not extend to the writers who give each literary age its actual and particular flavour. Once it was Sir ...
Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Murray, 320 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 7195 4910 8
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Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper 
by Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan.
Oxford, 218 pp., £30, August 1991, 9780198117858
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... outing to the races at Longchamps; ‘black-eyed Susan’, the New Mexican cow beloved by D.H. Lawrence: these are the things that stay in the mind when diagnoses and depreciations are forgotten. Jeffrey Meyers, who has done solid biographies of Lawrence and Hemingway and has now done one for Conrad, is particularly good ...

Manly Love

John Bayley, 28 January 1993

Walt Whitman: From Moon to Starry Night 
by Philip Callow.
Allison and Busby, 394 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 85031 908 0
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The Double Life of Stephen Crane 
by Christopher Benfey.
Deutsch, 294 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 233 98820 3
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... he mused later, ‘I might just as well have cut everything out.’ But he was never caught, as Lawrence was to be, in the trap of a readership that supposed sex to be his special thing. Openness about it was so happily equivocal with him that it became a kind of privacy: ‘shy and unseen’ indeed, but shedding a great glow of animation on everything the ...

What did Cook want?

Jon Lawrence: Both ‘on message’ and off, 19 February 2004

The Point of Departure 
by Robin Cook.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 7432 5255 1
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... Assembly and the London mayoral contest were notable examples. Well before the 2001 election, John Kampfner described Cook as an isolated figure forced to recognise both that he would never succeed Blair as party leader, and that he had been decisively out-manoeuvred by his long-term political rival Gordon Brown.* Strongly influenced by the media furore ...

Learning to speak

Gay Clifford, 21 February 1980

Gya/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism 
by Mary Daly.
Women’s Press, 485 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7043 2829 1
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The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 719 pp., £15.75, October 1980, 0 300 02286 7
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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Margaret Dickie Uroff.
Illinois, 235 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 252 00734 4
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Women Writing and Writing about Women 
edited by Mary Jacobus.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 85664 745 4
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... Lawrence felt that Hardy’s Sue Bridehead was ‘no woman’ because ‘that which was female in her she wanted to consume within the male force … in the fire of understanding, of giving utterance. Whereas an ordinary woman knows that she contains all understanding, that she is the unutterable which man must forever continue to try to utter ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties, 1 April 1999

The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... In 1916, D.H. Lawrence wrote to Lady Cynthia Asquith of his abiding ‘sadness’: ‘for my country, for this great wave of civilisation, 2000 years, which is now collapsing’. Driving to Garsington, Ottoline Morrell’s country seat, he was overwhelmed with a sense of so much beauty and pathos of old things passing away and no new things coming ...

On the Game

Kathryn Tidrick, 22 December 1994

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer 
by Patrick French.
HarperCollins, 440 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 00 215733 0
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... the great proconsuls, but young men representatively on the loose – James Brooke of Sarawak, John and Henry Lawrence of the Punjab, Charles Gordon, Lawrence of Arabia, William Sleeman who destroyed Thuggee, Frederick Lugard who conquered Northern Nigeria. If such men became ...

Bogey’s Clean Sweep

Michael Holroyd, 22 May 1980

The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... On 7 August 1922, in a letter for her husband John Middleton Murry to be opened after her death, Katherine Mansfield wrote: All my manuscripts I leave entirely to you to do what you like with. Go through them one day, dear love, and destroy all you do not use. Please destroy all letters you do not wish to keep and all papers ...

Facts and Makings

John Bayley, 21 February 1980

Moortown 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 176 pp., £5.25, October 1980, 0 571 11453 9
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Selected Poems 1955-1975 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 131 pp., £4.50, October 1980, 0 571 11512 8
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Collected Poems 1942-1977 
by W.S. Graham.
Faber, 268 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 571 11416 4
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... Ted Hughes has always possessed in his poetry the gift that D.H. Lawrence had whenever he took up his pen: the gift of joining his ego to the visible world so that both not only energise each other but seem aspects of the same display. The first poem in this collection, ‘Rain’, seems to give the essence of what actually happens when rain falls and falls on a bare modern English farming countryside ...

Sprawson makes a splash

John Bayley, 23 July 1992

Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero 
by Charles Sprawson.
Cape, 307 pp., £15.99, June 1992, 0 224 02730 1
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... his own watery infatuations, Sprawson is amused by the rich variety of incongruities involved. Lawrence despised the sight of Bertrand Russell in a bathing dress – ‘He’s all disembodied mind’ – at Garsington, but he was extremely reluctant to show himself in any state of undress, and insisted on Frieda wearing calico bloomers he had run up ...

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