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Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... so troubled and so overwhelmed he seems only to regret what he has accomplished. 24 February. To a Faber meeting for their sales reps at the Butchers’ Hall, which is just by the back door of Barts, bombed presumably and rebuilt in undistinguished neo-Georgian some time in the 1960s. Doorman sullen and no advertisement for the supposed cheerfulness of the ...

That’s what Wystan says

Seamus Perry, 10 May 2018

Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography 
by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 912 pp., £27.95, May 2017, 978 0 691 17249 1
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... deepened, the face was captured by some remarkable photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and Jane Bown, and a string of artists. The vigorous scribble of Feliks Topolski naturally found him a good subject, as did the heroic sculptural instincts of Henry Moore, who drew Auden’s skin from memory on hearing of his death – ‘the ...

In Fiery Letters

Mark Ford: F.T. Prince, 8 February 2018

Reading F.T. Prince 
by Will May.
Liverpool, 256 pp., £75, December 2016, 978 1 78138 333 9
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... accepted a number of his early poems for publication in the Criterion, and Prince was only 26 when Faber issued his first collection (austerely entitled Poems) in 1938. Alas, Eliot turned down his second volume, Soldiers Bathing, feeling Prince’s poetry of the 1940s was ‘straining after something too grandiose’ – a verdict echoed in later judgments of ...

Public Works

David Norbrook, 5 June 1986

The Faber Book of Political Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 481 pp., £17.50, May 1986, 0 571 13947 7
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... all the more so in the final text from which the poet dropped those conservative martyrs Richard III and the Duke of Wellington. Paulin has described Geoffrey Hill as being ‘parasitic’ on Eliot’s imagination, but has always claimed to like the sonnet ‘Idylls of the King’ which provoked all the London Review controversy, and he reprints it ...
Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition 
by James Joyce, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior.
Garland, 1919 pp., $200, May 1984, 0 8240 4375 8
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James Joyce 
by Richard Ellmann.
Oxford, 900 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 19 281465 6
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... where Stephen says: ‘Tell me the word, mother, if you know now. The word known to all men.’ Richard Ellmann virtually solved it in Ulysses on the Liffey (1972) with his chapter called ‘The Riddle of Scylla and Charybdis’, which argues that ‘the answer to the sphinx’s riddle was man, the answer to Scylla-Charybdis’s is the act of love.’ But ...

A New Twist in the Long Tradition of the Grotesque

Marina Warner: The monstrousness of Britart, 13 April 2000

High Art Lite: British Art in the 1990s 
by Julian Stallabrass.
Verso, 342 pp., £22, December 1999, 1 85984 721 8
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This is Modern Art 
by Matthew Collings.
Weidenfeld, 270 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 297 84292 7
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... remains blank, with the super-title, ‘Permission to reproduce denied’. This happens in Richard Billingham’s case as well, although his pictures of his family escape Stallabrass’s everlasting fire. Concurrently with last year’s Turner Prize show at the Tate, Ana Maria Pacheco, a Brazilian artist long resident in this country, showed the works ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means, 11 August 2016

Hystopia 
by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... time, Means has delivered not one novel but two. The first is Hystopia, which was published by Faber and blurbed by Richard Ford and is being reviewed right here in front of your very eyes. The second is also called ‘Hystopia’, but this one, as that shift in typography suggests, purports to be a posthumously ...

Hitler at Heathrow

E.S. Shaffer, 7 August 1980

The Memoirs of Bridget Hitler 
edited by Michael Unger.
Duckworth, 192 pp., £4.95, March 1979, 0 7156 1356 1
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The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. 
by George Steiner.
Granta, 66 pp., £1.50
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Young Adolf 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 174 pp., £6.95, November 1978, 0 7156 1323 5
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... deadpan account of the tracking and capture of Eichmann in The House on Garibaldi Street; Richard Deacon, The Israeli Secret Service, which tells the story, among others, of Wolfgang Lotz, the Israeli spy with unassailably Aryan looks who infiltrated Egyptian government circles to get plans for rocket sites and the names of German technicians: a story ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... I’m the proud owner of four or five copies (whenever I come across one, I buy it), and moreover Faber had the grace to publish an enlarged version in 1988, Fifty Poems, so the library will be back in business too. Greetings, borrowers. What I admire – not the word – about the poems is their intensity. John Berryman once said: write as short as you ...

Homage to Ezra Pound

C.K. Stead, 19 March 1981

The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound 
by Michael Alexander.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.95, April 1979, 0 571 10560 2
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Ezra Pound and the Pisan Cantos 
by Anthony Woodward.
Routledge, 128 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 7100 0372 2
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Ezra Pound and the Cantos: A Record of Struggle 
by Wendy Stallard Flory.
Yale, 321 pp., £12.60, July 1980, 0 300 02392 8
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Ezra Pound and His World 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Thames and Hudson, 127 pp., £5.95, February 1981, 0 500 13069 8
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End to Torment: A Memoir of Ezra Pound with Poems from Ezra Pound’s H.D. Book 
edited by Norman Holmes Pearson and Michael King.
Carcanet, 84 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85635 318 3
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... hostility,’ and that may be so. But there has been some excellent work done on Pound recently: Richard Sieburth’s Instigations, Leon Surette’s A Light from Eleusis, and now Alexander’s manageably-sized study of the whole corpus of the poetry, and Woodward’s of The Pisan Cantos. My feeling is that Pound’s stock is rising, and that one reason for ...

‘Stravinsky’

Paul Driver, 23 January 1986

Dearest Bubushkin: Selected Letters and Diaries of Vera and Igor Stravinsky 
edited by Robert Craft.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 500 01368 3
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Stravinsky: Selected Correspondence Vol. III 
edited by Robert Craft.
Faber, 543 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 571 13373 8
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... of the man stays stamped on his photographed features till the end – strongly marked in Richard Avedon’s famous portrait of 1969. Vera passes photographically through the book like royalty, always exuding grace, joy and beauty. Igor’s snapshot of her by a lake in Wiesbaden in 1930 is particularly fetching, with the remote glow of a legend. The ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... of Bate’s biography as well, ‘The Unauthorised Life’. The book was initially to be issued by Faber, Hughes’s main publisher and rights holder, but in March 2014 Bate learned that the Hughes Estate, run by his widow, Carol, was withdrawing its co-operation. So he had to find a new publisher, and his right to quote Hughes’s own words was severely ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... May, ‘an eclectic blend of ulysses, kilroy, icarus, neptune, ishmael, noah, jonah, columbus, and richard halliburton! So you must, in all kindness, emphasise your mortal finitude when next we meet!’ He had leave in June, and it is through Gordon’s faithful eyes that we see Plath on the cover of the first volume of the letters: blonde hair, red lipstick ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... the entry on Mary Kennard where the Companion records that she was the daughter of one Charles Faber ‘not Samuel Laing, as sometimes claimed’. The Laing claim is made in my Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (which also has a grotesquely wrong date of death for Kennard) and in R.L. Wolff’s Nineteenth-Century Fiction, A Bibliographical ...

Blue Suede Studies

Hugh Barnes, 19 December 1985

Elvis and Me 
by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Sandra Harman.
Century, 320 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1131 2
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Are you lonesome tonight? 
by Alan Bleasdale.
Faber, 95 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 571 13732 6
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Elvis and Gladys 
by Elaine Dundy.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 9780297782100
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The Johnny Cash Discography 
by John Smith.
Greenwood, 203 pp., £29.95, May 1985, 0 313 24654 8
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Horse’s Neck 
by Pete Townshend.
Faber, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1985, 9780571138739
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Like Punk Never Happened 
by Dave Rimmer.
Faber, 191 pp., £4.95, October 1985, 0 571 13739 3
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Starlust: The Secret Fantasies of Fans 
by Fred Vermorel and Judy Vermorel.
Comet, 253 pp., £4.95, August 1985, 0 86379 004 6
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The Beatles 
by Hunter Davies.
Cape, 498 pp., £12.95, December 1985, 0 224 02837 5
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... career as the avatar of the good and the not-so-good, still travelling in the wake of Little Richard. The history of rock ’n’ roll focuses on the white triumvirate – Presley, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis, who have at different times heaped contumely on themselves – neglecting its roots in Jazz and the Blues, and a sibling relationship with ...

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