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John Bayley, 7 December 1989

Coleridge: Early Visions 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 409 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 340 28335 1
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Wordsworth: Romantic Poetry and Revolution Politics 
by John Williams.
Manchester, 203 pp., £29.95, November 1989, 0 7190 3168 0
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Sara Coleridge, A Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays 
by Bradford Keyes Mudge.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04443 7
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... perpetually present – and never more so than in this almost incredibly vivid biography. Richard Holmes has a genius for the job, as he showed fifteen years ago in his biography of Shelley. In a sense, there is no need to bring Coleridge to life, but in this compelling narrative of those early years of the poet Holmes makes us seem actually to be ...

Make mine a Worcester Sauce

John Bayley, 23 June 1994

Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... in attainments, would be T.E. Lawrence, Robert Graves, Peter Fleming (perhaps both Flemings) and Richard Hughes. It makes no difference that Lawrence was half-Irish, the Flemings mostly Scottish, and Hughes partly Welsh. The presidential or father figure of the group would be John Buchan, another Scot, whose innings was over before the younger ones started ...

Saved by the Ant’s Fore-Foot

David Trotter: Pound’s Martyrology, 7 July 2005

The Pisan Cantos 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
New Directions, 159 pp., $13.95, October 2003, 9780811215589
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Poems and Translations 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
Library of America, 1363 pp., $45, October 2003, 1 931082 41 3
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... birds on the wire: and as for the solidity of the white oxen in all this perhaps only Dr Williams (Bill Carlos) will understand its importance, its benediction. He wd/ have put in the cart. There is poetry in the white oxen (all the more, perhaps, for the cart’s omission), and humility. The poet, as Read put it, ‘contemplates the world of nature ...

Whose Nuremberg Laws?

Jeremy Waldron: Race, 19 March 1998

Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race 
by Patricia Williams.
Virago, 72 pp., £5.99, April 1997, 1 86049 365 3
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Colour Conscious: The Political Morality of Race 
by Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann.
Princeton, 200 pp., £11.95, May 1998, 0 691 05909 8
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Race: The History of an Idea in the West 
by Ivan Hannaford.
Johns Hopkins, 464 pp., £49.50, June 1996, 0 8018 5222 6
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... the good intentions of those whose ancestors did their best to destroy it. In 1997, Patricia Williams, a colleague of mine at Columbia Law School, was invited to deliver the Reith Lectures. Before she gave them, she was targeted by sections of the British media as ‘a militant black feminist who thinks all whites are racist’ (Daily Mail). It was said ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Among the Balls, 20 July 2006

... them, the pass was slipped through to Ze Roberto. As he prepared to slip the ball past the goalie, Richard Kingson, the excitement became too much to handle, and the commentator, cracking under the strain, came right out with the n-word. He just said it. With just five lousy minutes to go … It’s so easy to dream of what might have been. But there’s no ...

Gentlemen Travellers

D.A.N. Jones, 15 September 1983

George Borrow: Eccentric 
by Michael Collie.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 521 24615 6
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A World of his Own: The Double Life of George Borrow 
by David Williams.
Oxford, 178 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 19 211762 9
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Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jan Morris.
Oxford, 279 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 19 281361 7
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Eothen 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jonathan Raban.
Century, 226 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 7126 0031 0
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... Bible into Chinese. (‘He boned up feverishly on Manchu,’ enthuses his other biographer, David Williams, in his schoolboyish way.) Borrow had to argue in Russian with the Tsar’s board of censors, hire and supervise ill-educated Estonian compositors to set up Mongolian print (which, he said, ‘differs little from the Mandchou’) and prepare to ...

Cockaigne

Frank Kermode, 24 October 1991

Orwell: The Authorised Biography 
by Michael Shelden.
Heinemann, 563 pp., £18.50, October 1991, 0 434 69517 3
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... There is already a lot of biographical writing about Orwell, including the memoir of Richard Rees and The Unknown Orwell by William Abrahams and Peter Stansky (lamed by the late Soni Orwell’s refusal of permission to quote), and, more recently, the expansive Life by Bernard Crick, at first authorised by the widow to emphasise her rejection of Stansky and Abrahams, and later de-authorised by her to indicate disapproval of Crick, who, much to her annoyance, had lawyers good enough to ensure that he was able to publish it anyway, quotations and all ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... and drew support from the other players in this drama: the Imagists – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Aldington, T.E. Hulme, F.S. Flint, John Gould Fletcher, Amy Lowell – as well as scores more who had a stake in the continuing vitality of literature, including Yeats, Lawrence, Ford Madox Ford, Wyndham Lewis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. The ...

Desire

Raymond Williams, 17 April 1986

Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Virago, 164 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 86068 559 4
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... childhood which have been written by men, within a particular mode. She has especially in mind Richard Hoggart’s Uses of Literacy, which she describes as representing a ‘passivity of emotional life in working-class communities’, where ‘the streets are all the same; nothing changes.’ More sharply, Carolyn Steedman also chal-challenges Jeremy ...

Terrestrial Thoughts, Extraterrestrial Science

Bernard Williams, 7 February 1991

Realism with a Human Face 
by Hilary Putnam.
Harvard, 347 pp., £23.95, October 1990, 0 674 74950 2
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... equally conclusively, that formulations in this relativistic style that have been popularised by Richard Rorty, in particular, simply tear themselves apart. If, as Rorty is fond of putting it, the correct description of the world (for us) is a matter of what we find it convenient to say, and if, as Rorty admits, we find it convenient to say that science ...

Why Philosophy Needs History

Bernard Williams: On Truth, 17 October 2002

... is, whether it can be other than relative or subjective or something of that sort. (Some, such as Richard Rorty, say that ‘truth’ is not really the object of our inquiries or our concerns at all: what we should aim at is rather something like solidarity.) The first of these impulses of course fuels the second: the demand for honesty and truthfulness turns ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell, 19 June 2003

George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... of the human spirit, which there is no reason to believe he ever entirely abandoned. For Raymond Williams, Establishment-bred leftists who finally revert to type can be seen as cases of what he calls in Culture and Society ‘negative identification’. The dissident offspring of the upper middle class throws in his lot with the militant proletariat, largely ...

Art of Embarrassment

A.D. Nuttall, 18 August 1994

Essays, Mainly Shakespearean 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 386 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 40444 4
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English Comedy 
edited by Michael Cordner, Peter Holland and John Kerrigan.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 521 41917 4
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... Barton, ranging from American luminaries like Jonas Barish and Stephen Orgel to newcomers like Richard Rowland (who contributes a thumpingly good piece on Heywood). Shakespeare is still the most challenging object in the literary canon, the most generous with meaning and, at the same time, the most apt to find out folly in those who would interpret ...

Off-Screen Drama

Richard Mayne, 5 March 1981

European Elections and British Politics 
by David Butler.
Longman, 208 pp., £9.95, February 1981, 0 582 29528 9
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Political Change in Europe: The Left and the Future of the Atlantic Alliance 
edited by Douglas Eden.
Blackwell, 163 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 631 12525 6
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... the extreme Left would like to go. Since then, the cameras have zoomed in unrelentingly on Shirley Williams and the Council for Social Democracy. When the mass media wake up to an issue, they seldom give it a rest. Is it too late for them to wake up to Europe, and dispel the public ignorance which all demagogues ...

The Court

Richard Eyre, 23 September 1993

The Long Distance Runner 
by Tony Richardson.
Faber, 277 pp., £17.50, September 1993, 0 571 16852 3
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... had written Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge and All My Sons, Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie, Streetcar, Camino Real and The Rose Tattoo, but if Osborne shows any American influence it is from the earlier generation of O’Neill, or even Odets. There were intermittently fine productions on the London stage: ‘revivals’ of ...

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