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Bring out the lemonade

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite: What the Welsh got right, 7 April 2022

Brittle with Relics: A History of Wales, 1962-97 
by Richard King.
Faber, 526 pp., £25, February, 978 0 571 29564 7
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... Tip 7 was not an act of God but an avoidable tragedy.These two submerged villages are central to Richard King’s oral history of Wales – or, really, of Welsh-language activism and Welsh nationalism – in the late 20th century. The injustices and catastrophes caused by the government in Westminster weren’t the only thing that stimulated Welsh activism ...

Gold-Digger

Colin Burrow: Walter Ralegh, 8 March 2012

Sir Walter Ralegh in Life and Legend 
by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams.
Continuum, 378 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 1 4411 1209 5
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The Favourite: Sir Walter Ralegh in Elizabeth I’s Court 
by Mathew Lyons.
Constable, 354 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84529 679 7
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... But his career – described with immense care and judiciousness by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams in what will surely become the standard biography – is still almost unbelievable even when the ornaments of myth are stripped from it. Ralegh started with very little. As a younger son of his father’s third marriage and his mother’s second he ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Making It Up

Raphael Samuel, 4 July 1996

Raymond Williams 
by Fred Inglis.
Routledge, 333 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 415 08960 3
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... This biography opens with a vivid chapter on Raymond Williams’s funeral. Entitled ‘Prologue, in Memoriam’, it transports the reader to Clodock Church, ‘a plain little building’ in the foothills of the Black Mountains. It is a comfortless day, Fred Inglis tells us. ‘The light fell crooked and the road fell wrong ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... The cover of The Fellowship flourishes the names of two of them – Owen Barfield and Charles Williams – alongside those of Tolkien and Lewis. Barfield had become friends with Lewis when they were undergraduates, and was later a frequent companion on his walking tours of rural England and his favourite antagonist in debates. Barfield’s chief passions ...

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 ...

Hard Eggs and Radishes

Thomas Jones: Shelley at Sea, 21 July 2022

The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley: Vol. VII 
edited by Nora Crook.
Johns Hopkins, 931 pp., £103.50, May 2021, 978 1 4214 3783 5
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... their surviving son and their servants, the household included their new friends Edward and Jane Williams, their children and servants, and Mary’s half-sister, Claire Clairmont.Clairmont’s five-year-old daughter with Byron, Allegra, had died of typhus (or possibly malaria) only a few days earlier, in the convent near Ravenna where her father had more or ...

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 ...

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