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Venice-on-Thames

Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens, 7 February 2013

Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... ladies the gardens could never be fashionable. All this was to change under the proprietorship of Jonathan Tyers, a Bermondsey tradesman who managed to conceal his background in the leather industry and project himself as a man of learning and culture, establishing his family as lesser gentry in Surrey. He took on the Vauxhall lease in 1729, at the age of ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy, 9 April 2015

Hollywood 
by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... autobiographical (Goodbye to Berlin, Mr Norris Changes Trains), along with a biography of him by Jonathan Fryer. And so I had also long known – a bit – about Bachardy. I knew back then, for instance, that he was considerably more to Isherwood than just a protégé. They had been lovers since 1953, when the writer was 48 and the artist-to-be only 18. They ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... with Dorn. A tradition of strong poetry, leading back through Stevens to Coleridge, Keats and Wordsworth is implied. Up to a point this will help the anthology appeal to English readers. It certainly makes a better Faber Book than its American manifestation does a Harvard Book. But anyone looking for the full range of post-war US poetry will have to turn ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder, 28 January 1993

The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... to disguise the poverty of the present. This would condemn the medium of Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth to the status of a dead language. The compulsory canon of literary monuments now being championed by right-wing educationalists is, it goes without saying, an English-language canon. At a time when our politics are dominated by European ...

Talk about doing

Frank Kermode, 26 October 1989

Against Deconstruction 
by John Ellis.
Princeton, 168 pp., £13.70, February 1989, 0 691 06754 6
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The New Historicism 
by H. Aram Veeser.
Routledge, 318 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 415 90070 0
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Rethinking Historicism: Critical Essays in Romantic History 
by Marjorie Levinson, Marilyn Butler, Jerome McGann and Paul Hamilton.
Blackwell, 149 pp., £22.50, August 1989, 0 631 16591 6
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Towards a Literature of Knowledge 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 138 pp., £16.50, May 1989, 9780198117407
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The Stoic in Love: Selected Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Harvester, 209 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 7450 0614 0
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... that all interpretation is necessarily misinterpretation (reduced by calmer exponents such as Jonathan Culler to the uncontentious assertion that no interpretation can ever be final), and the dashing new formulation of the old problem of intention – Ellis argues with force and clarity. Moreover he happens to believe that some writings are more complex ...

Settling down

Karl Miller, 20 November 1980

Young Emma 
by W.H. Davies.
Cape, 158 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 224 01853 1
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... naive, but, as poetry, it is neither innocent nor natural. Davies was not long in liking Keats. Wordsworth, with his fondness for statistics, came later, and Davies wrote: I judged it was seven pounds in weight,    And little more than one foot long. A tremendous smoker of his pipe, Davies was blushingly mild and shy in his daily life, or so the new ...

Masters of Art

John Sutherland, 18 December 1980

Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... violence) they buy out. The poet Penfield, who once asserted his independence by semaphoring Wordsworth on the battlefield, ends a kept man whose sterile chef d’oeuvre is Loon lake, published by the Grebe Press: ‘Loon Lake NY 1939. No reviews’. Joe and Penfield, master and laureate of Loon Lake, are as possessed and exploited by the Bennett class ...

Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... Tamworth and Elford places him in the company of his hero, as well as those much younger walkers, Wordsworth and Coleridge.) Hermsprong finally marries Grondale’s daughter – expelled from home by her father for refusing to accept a husband of his choice – after revealing himself to be the true owner of Grondale’s ill-gotten estates. Little or nothing ...

Hobohemianism

Blake Morrison, 30 June 2011

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp 
by W.H. Davies.
Amberley, 192 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84868 980 0
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... poetry allots him more entries than it does Owen, Graves, Sassoon or Edward Thomas, and by Jonathan Barker, whose 1985 edition of the Selected Poems reprints more than a third of his 800 or so poems. But it was Larkin who made the best case for him, when he included five of Davies’s poems in the Oxford Book of 20th-Century English Verse. The choices ...

The Deconstruction Gang

S.L. Goldberg, 22 May 1980

Deconstruction and Criticism 
by Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller.
Routledge, 256 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 7100 0436 2
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... In reviewing a book on literary theory recently, a noted American structuralist, Jonathan Culler, drew a stern line between the sort of assumptions about literature that might do for ordinary ‘readers’ and those that are currently giving ‘vitality’, as he put it, to ‘literary studies’. The point is well taken; and it also casts a certain light on the present book, Deconstruction and Criticism, as well as on the general condition (and conditions) of American academic ‘vitality ...

Fielding in the dock

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1990

Henry Fielding: A Life 
by Martin Battestin and Ruthe Battestin.
Routledge, 738 pp., £29.50, October 1989, 0 415 01438 7
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New Essays 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin.
Virginia, 604 pp., $50, November 1989, 0 8139 1221 0
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The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. The True Patriot, and Related Writings 
edited by W.B. Coley.
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An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and Related Writings 
edited by Malvin Zirker.
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The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register Office 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Bertrand Goldgar.
Oxford, 446 pp., £50, December 1988, 0 19 818511 1
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Fielding and the Woman Question: The Novels of Henry Fielding and the Feminist Debate 1700-1750 
by Angela Smallwood.
Harvester, 230 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 7108 0639 6
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... as quoted from a letter to Harris, of prose against the heroic couplet is not in the least ‘like Wordsworth in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’, not even ‘a little’, and his dislike of the fetters of rhyme is similarly not a presage of Romanticism: the debate about rhyme was an old one, opponents of rhyme frequently appealed to the example of the ...

Cute, My Arse

Seamus Perry: Geoffrey Hill, 12 September 2019

The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 148 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 19 882952 2
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... power; although his victory doesn’t seem to have done much to soften the terrible end of Jonathan Swift, who died demented in 1745, unconsoled by his compatriot’s breakthrough in epistemology. Yeats saw Berkeley’s immaterialism as a return to ancient wisdom, a reinstatement of the proper sovereignty of the imagination, and thus, or so Hill seems ...

Kermode’s Changing Times

P.N. Furbank, 7 March 1991

The Uses of Error 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 432 pp., £18, February 1991, 9780002154659
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... theories. It lasted from 1967 to 1976, attracting what for us now are some very familiar names – Jonathan Culler, Christopher Norris, Annette Lavers, Stephen Heath etc – and under his guidance, we gather, they all got on extremely well, ‘preserving a tone of good humour in the midst of the most serious, even the most fierce, exchanges’. Kermode ...

Overindulgence

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: A.S. Byatt, 28 November 2002

A Whistling Woman 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 422 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 7011 7380 7
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... programme Frederica hosts is called Through the Looking-Glass, and its pilot episode features Jonathan Miller and Richard Gregory talking animatedly about mirrors and doubles, both of which figure prominently in A Whistling Woman’s own symbolic repertoire. (As she did in Babel Tower, where she brought on Anthony Burgess as a witness for the defence in ...
... Ableman(Spectator)Peter Conrad(Harpers & Queen)Alan Hollinghurst(New Statesman)Christopher Wordsworth(Guardian)UnfavourablePaul Ableman(Spectator)Robert Cottrell(Financial Times)Martyn Goff(Daily Telegraph)John Osborne(New Standard)John Sutherland(London Review of Books)Auberon Waugh(Daily Mail)In all three categories, there was some reviewing of value ...

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