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Flossing

Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... every line a piece of advice, and every word a note to self. ‘The Compassionate Fool’ by Norman Cameron is therefore not a poem in which the scheme of rhyme and half-rhyme, the sound of the words and the weight of the stanzas, is the better part of the message; only an elitist would say that the shape of the poem somehow carries the sense of ambush ...

The Uncommon Reader

Alan Bennett: A Story, 8 March 2007

... knew that. Have you come far?’ ‘Only from Westminster, maam.’ ‘And you are …?’ ‘Norman, maam. Seakins.’ ‘And where do you work?’ ‘In the kitchen, maam.’ ‘Oh. Do you have much time for reading?’ ‘Not really, maam.’ ‘I’m the same. Though now that one is here I suppose one ought to borrow a book.’ Mr Hutchings smiled ...

Great Thoughts

E.S. Turner, 7 May 1981

The Macmillan Treasury of Relevant Quotations 
edited by Edward Murphy.
Macmillan, 658 pp., £3.95, August 1980, 0 333 30038 6
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... name relate to works by the unindexed George F. Woodberry (another English humorist, D. B. Wyndham-Lewis, has his entries indexed under Percy Wyndham Lewis). The genuine Wodehouse entries are not really vintage, which may well be the result of trying to find unhackneyed passages. Indeed, the search for the unhackneyed has ...
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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... During or just after the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned out to be Connolly not producing ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... revolt’: ‘his attack is nothing less than the raising of a revolutionary call,’ ‘Professor Norman [sic] Godden, the new Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, is totally opposed to the idea.’ Cunningham’s ‘Maldon’-joke about the teachers of Old English moving ‘across Faculty business in the tight Germanic wedge formation they’ve ...

Godmother of the Salmon

John Bayley, 9 July 1992

‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ and other Laureate Poems 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 64 pp., £12.99, June 1992, 0 571 16605 9
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... Cibber, Whitehead, Warton, Pye, Southey, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Austin, Bridges, Masefield, Day-Lewis, Betjeman ... In 1921 E.K. Broadus wrote a book, The Laureateship. After the First War there must have been a need in the public mind for some good official stuff, like Spring-Rice’s ‘I vow to thee, my country’, set to a tune from Holst’s ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... and atmosphere are still rich in hints of the life savoured by its great authors, from Dunbar to Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch. The heyday of its literary, cultural and philosophic life lasted for a hundred years to the death of Scott and left its mark on Europe and America. An ancient city, a capital, with authors of all kinds, from Gavin Douglas to ...

Yoked together

Frank Kermode, 22 September 1994

History: The Home Movie 
by Craig Raine.
Penguin, 335 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 0 14 024240 6
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... Spenser’s heavy pace and patches of opacity with the more athletic movement of Ariosto. C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, thought the whole poem moved along pretty briskly. Other critics, without necessarily denying either view, waste their lives, though they may also secure tenure, in trying to explain just what is really going on in Spenser’s ...

Misappropriation

Colin Kidd: Burke, 4 February 2016

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke 
by Richard Bourke.
Princeton, 1001 pp., £30.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 14511 2
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Training Minds for the War of Ideas: Ashridge College, the Conservative Party and the Cultural Politics of Britain, 1929-54 
by Clarisse Berthezène.
Manchester, 214 pp., £75, June 2015, 978 0 7190 8649 6
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, Vol. IV: Party, Parliament and the Dividing of the Whigs, 1780-94 
edited by P.J. Marshall and Donald Bryant.
Oxford, 674 pp., £120, October 2015, 978 0 19 966519 8
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... the few intellectual stars on the Conservative backbenches, the free-range MP for Hereford, Jesse Norman, has published studies of The Big Society (2010) and of Edmund Burke (2013). However, within political traditions the complexities of past politics tend to be viewed through the lens of simplifying mythologies. In fact, Burke was neither a member of the ...

Carré on spying

John Sutherland, 3 April 1986

A Perfect Spy 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 463 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 9780340387849
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The Novels of John le Carré 
by David Monaghan.
Blackwell, 207 pp., £12.50, September 1985, 0 631 14283 5
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Taking sides: The Fiction of John le Carré 
by Tony Barley.
Open University, 175 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 335 15251 1
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John le Carré 
by Peter Lewis.
Ungar, 228 pp., £10.95, August 1985, 0 8044 2243 5
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A Servant’s Tale 
by Paula Fox.
Virago, 321 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 86068 702 3
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A State of Independence 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 158 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 571 13910 8
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... in their own kind of espionage) soon turned up interesting privacies. An article by Norman Moss in the Sunday Telegraph, for instance, disclosed that the little drummer girl Charlie was at least in part based on le Carré’s half-sister Charlotte Cornwell. A Perfect Spy doubles back to unfold more of le Carré’s private world than any of his ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... the English department at Upper St Clair High School, however, the writing of David Halberstam, Norman Mailer, Larry King and Marshall Frady, to name just a handful of the Morris Boys, was considered precocious troublemaking, and duly expelled from class as stylistically, politically and just about every other way-ally unfit for consumption or ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Personal and Public Affairs, 4 November 1982

... letters, telegrams, personal expostulations and, above all, telephone calls – what the late Sir Lewis Namier called ‘the terror by telephone’. He was himself a skilled operator of this weapon and claimed to have reduced more than one critic of Zionism to a nervous breakdown. The only safe course is never, never, never to have any opinion about the ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... in the competition.) Entitled ‘The Hell It Can’t’, the story was intended to rebuke Sinclair Lewis’s Popular Front novel It Can’t Happen Here. I once went to the labour of digging up this un-anthologised tale, which describes an episode of vicious fascist violence, and could see in it, if I chose, premonitions of Bellow’s later impatient ...

Terrorism

Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... but it would be honest. The recent past is not the only sufferer in this book. Professors Lewis, Kedourie and Vatikiotis come on stage to tell us that Islam is in effect a terrorist religion and that the term ‘Islamic terrorists’ is therefore legitimate. Elie Kedourie even says that ‘the old history’ of Islamic terrorism ‘will serve to ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... to serious non-fiction, from the days of André Maurois’s romanticised version of Shelley to Norman Mailer’s pastiche of Marilyn Monroe, have seemed more dubious. With Peterley Harvest there was an additional problem because, unlike recent fictional diaries such as Nazi Lady: The Diaries of Elisabeth von Stahlenberg 1933-1948, or fictional ...

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