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Hitting the buffers

Peter Wollen, 8 September 1994

Early Modernism: Literature, Music and Painting in Europe 1900-1916 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 318 pp., £27.50, April 1994, 0 19 811746 9
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... work’ as probably preventing them from ‘coming to terms with the early work of Wyndham Lewis’. As a result, they ‘ceased to be in the vanguard at the very point at which they had produced a potentially powerful and accommodating theory for its art.’ In the summer of 1913, however, Wyndham Lewis was still ...

Diary

Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... War in a fashion incomprehensible to those who view it only through the writings of the war poets. Lewis Hastings, born in 1880, had run away from Stonyhurst to South Africa aged 18, and roamed that country thereafter as hunter, policeman, prospector, star rugby player and not unsuccessful part-time politician. In 1914 he led a national recruiting campaign for ...

Heliotrope

John Sutherland, 3 December 1992

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dreams of Exile 
by Ian Bell.
Mainstream, 295 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 1 85158 457 9
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... Stevenson’s adolescent rebellion against his father. Unlike Pope-Hennessy, he does not highlight Thomas Stevenson’s agonised declaration on being told his son was an agnostic: ‘You have rendered my whole life a failure.’ When he discovered that his son was actually preaching atheism to other young men, Thomas went ...

An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi, 21 February 1985

The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... glance to St Augustine and 17th-century writers of spiritual self-examination like Bunyan and Sir Thomas Browne, Buckley focuses on the Romantic emergence of what he calls the ‘subjective impulse’, with Rousseau and Wordsworth as the founders of autobiography as we know it, where the interest is in the exploration of the self for its own sake, and not for ...

Wicked Converse

Keith Thomas: Bewitched by the Brickmaker, 12 May 2022

The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World 
by Malcolm Gaskill.
Allen Lane, 308 pp., £20, November 2021, 978 0 241 41338 8
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... bewitching a cow belonging to Pynchon’s servant Francis Pepper. Another of Pynchon’s servants, Thomas Miller, cut his leg with a saw and immediately assumed that Parsons was responsible. Up to this point, Mary had kept quiet about the fact that she had given herself to the devil and that her soul, leaving her body, had attended a witches’ meeting. But ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... and rancour. There is evidence that he enjoys walking, curlews, turtledoves, bullfinches, owls, Thomas Moore’s ‘Thee, Thee, Only Thee’ and much that France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my ...

Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages 
by Harold Bloom.
Harcourt Brace, 578 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 15 195747 9
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... As one thinks of Harold Bloom, Auden’s description of Wyndham Lewis as a lonely old volcano comes to mind. Though not, like Lewis, ‘of the Right’, or indeed claiming any political alignment, Bloom erupts with comparable regularity and force. He prefers to be a one-man cultural opposition, waving only the banner of aesthetics; he says there are no Bloomians, but everybody knows him and all wonder, usually with exasperated affection, what he will do next ...

Dislocations

Stephen Fender, 19 January 1989

Landscape and Written Expression in Revolutionary America: The world turned upside down 
by Robert Lawson-Peebles.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £35, March 1988, 0 521 34647 9
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Mark Twain’s Letters. Vol. I: 1853-1866 
edited by Edgar Marquess Branch, Michael Frank and Kenneth Sanderson.
California, 616 pp., $35, May 1988, 0 520 03668 9
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A Writer’s America: Landscape in Literature 
by Alfred Kazin.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £15.95, September 1988, 0 500 01424 8
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... and interesting exploration of his theme centres on the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who accessed over a third of the country’s land area in one purchase from the French, then ordered it to be surveyed by a government expedition led by army captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. For ...

Feast of St Thomas

Frank Kermode, 29 September 1988

Eliot’s New Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Oxford, 356 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 19 811727 2
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The Letters of T.S. Eliot 
edited by Valerie Eliot.
Faber, 618 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 571 13621 4
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The Poetics of Impersonality 
by Maud Ellmann.
Harvester, 207 pp., £32.50, January 1988, 0 7108 0463 6
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T.S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism 
by Richard Shusterman.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £19.95, February 1988, 0 7156 2187 4
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‘The Men of 1914’: T.S. Eliot and Early Modernism 
by Erik Svarny.
Open University, 268 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 335 09019 2
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Eliot, Joyce and Company 
by Stanley Sultan.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 504880 6
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The Savage and the City in the Work of T.S. Eliot 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 251 pp., £25, December 1987, 9780198128694
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T.S. Eliot: The Poems 
by Martin Scofield.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 30147 5
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... admiration for his prose style. Not everybody agrees, and it can still be maintained, as by Lewis Freed in his book The Critic as Philosopher (1979), that Eliot’s critical theories are Bradleyan almost through and through. Now, however, we have Richard Shusterman with a new view of the whole matter. He believes that Eliot is much more interesting as a ...

In the Teeth of the Gale

A.D. Nuttall, 16 November 1995

The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation 
edited by Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule.
Oxford, 606 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 19 214209 7
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... are read all over the world while Pushkin, despite the efforts of John Fennell, Antony Wood. DM. Thomas and Vladimir Nabokov, remains primarily a writer for readers of Russian. The myriad imperfections of rendering in any translation of a novel do not seriously impede what looks like genuine literary enjoyment: we weep for Anna Karenina and tremble at ...

Diary

Yonatan Mendel: At the Herzliya Conference, 22 February 2007

... How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism. The second speaker was Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University. I knew his work well – who didn’t? The title of one of his books encapsulates his views: What Went Wrong? The Clash between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East. Clash of Civilisations: here we come. The third speaker was ...

Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

... I am paranoid about the word ‘paranoia’, and the previous researches of, above all, Sir Aubrey Lewis have helped me indulge my fear. Lewis’s famous paper, ‘Paranoia and Paranoid: A Historical Perspective’, provides a framework around which some further historical speculations can be built. ‘Paranoia’ is a ...

Uncle Vester’s Nephew

Graham Coster, 27 February 1992

Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
by Greil Marcus.
Viking, 256 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 670 83846 2
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Rythm Oil: A Journey through the Music of the American South 
by Stanley Booth.
Cape, 254 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 224 02779 4
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... Beale Street where the rackety blues clubs are, and the streetsweepers who ply it every day. Furry Lewis, one of his most affecting portraits, was one of the Deep South’s most important country blues artists. But blues doesn’t pay you a living, so, even though handicapped by an artificial leg, Lewis had to earn his ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Phantom Thread’, 22 February 2018

Phantom Thread 
directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
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... which this scene occurs, and in which a whole series of versions of it are offered to us, is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, hailed as a masterpiece by some critics and viewers and deemed an annoying waste of time by others. I would say it’s a staring contest we can’t win. But we can’t lose either. The film is too wandering and awkward to be a ...

Mad to Be Saved

Thomas Powers: The Kerouac Years, 25 October 2012

The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac 
by Joyce Johnson.
Viking, 489 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 0 670 02510 7
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... and his art. His first novel, The Town and the City, written in 1947-48, was deeply indebted to Thomas Wolfe but otherwise a conventional narrative of a young man in a backwater city tortured by hope and hesitation, swept along by history. Cassady never hesitated, was always ready for the next thing, shrugged at rules, compelled attention. His comings and ...

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