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Nothing for Ever and Ever

Frank Kermode: Housman’s Pleasures, 5 July 2007

The Letters of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 1228 pp., £180, March 2007, 978 0 19 818496 6
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... would now (at 71) ‘do nothing for ever and ever’. In his well-known essay on Housman, Edmund Wilson made a special point of the author’s giving up work on a poet as interesting as Propertius in order to spend his life with Manilius. Wilson regarded the switch from love poems to obsolete science as evidence of an ...

With a Da bin ich!

Seamus Perry: Properly Lawrentian, 9 September 2021

Burning Man: The Ascent of D.H. Lawrence 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 488 pp., £25, May, 978 1 4088 9362 3
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... my most puzzled admiration.’The line about trusting tales appears as an epigraph to Frances Wilson’s vivid and unusual new book. The quotation runs on to Lawrence’s next sentence, which constitutes a peculiar sort of commission: ‘The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.’ Its application to his own ...

Liza Jarrett’s Hard Life

Paul Driver, 4 December 1986

The Death of the Body 
by C.K. Stead.
Collins, 192 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 00 223067 4
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Kramer’s Goats 
by Rudolf Nassauer.
Peter Owen, 188 pp., £10.50, August 1986, 0 7206 0659 4
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Mefisto 
by John Banville.
Secker, 234 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780436032660
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The Century’s Daughter 
by Pat Barker.
Virago, 284 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780860686064
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Love Unknown 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 202 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 241 11922 7
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... understand how one can be enslaved by it without hating it bitterly’). It is typical of A.N. Wilson’s insouciance that the death scene in his Love Unknown is the breeziest possible – the abrupt demise of a character merely inserted so that she can be killed off (though not before she can be mocked). These two novels are more conventionally devised ...

Community Relations

Daniel Finn: In Belfast, 27 August 2009

... there are real foreigners to hassle, and respectable politicians happy to provide cover. Sammy Wilson of the DUP weighed in this January: ‘When it comes to a downturn, I think if jobs are becoming vacant . . . preference should be given to people from Northern Ireland.’ Wilson’s colleague Jeffrey Donaldson backed ...

Must they twinkle?

John Sutherland, 1 August 1985

British Literary Magazines. Vol. III: The Victorian and Edwardian Age 1837-1913 
edited by Alvin Sullivan.
Greenwood, 560 pp., £88.50, December 1984, 0 313 24335 2
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The Book Book 
by Anthony Blond.
Cape, 226 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 224 02074 9
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... For the moment, I want to consider its historical evidence against a provocative assertion by A.N. Wilson, quoted in Anthony Blond’s Book Book. According to Wilson (don, novelist, Sunday Telegraph reviewer, Young Fogey and former literary editor of the Spectator), there is now no literary reviewing worth the name in ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... a little bit of success, and would have done more if it hadn’t been for bankers or, as Harold Wilson used to call his hidden enemies, “speculators”.’ Only Tony Benn, even as he was signing papers in the red dispatch boxes, travelling round in chauffeur-driven limousines and dining at Lockets, began to realise that he was playing a lead part in a ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum, 25 October 2018

Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... the reassuring story of the UK’s first Euro-referendum in 1975. Then, the prime minister, Harold Wilson, had gone through the motions of a renegotiation of Britain’s place in the European Economic Community and, with that token effort behind him, shepherded the forces of pragmatism to a resounding victory for remaining in the Common Market. The ...

Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim, 16 December 2010

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... Stephen Sondheim is America’s master of musical theatre, as long as we are prepared for the work to be brilliant but not relaxed. His is a voice of solitude struggling to believe in company, and that of a lifelong game-player, so be careful about taking this book at face value as an autobiography, or as giving the whole story ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1982

The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... ever condemned to our discourses. And so, says Foucault, with the ‘sexual revolution’ itself. Stephen Heath never mentions Foucault. Yet his point in exposing the ‘Sexual Fix’ is almost exactly the same. It is to show that when we believe ourselves at last to be able to express our real selves in sex, when we claim our Right to Sex Happiness, go to ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon, 7 August 2003

Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... John Stuart Roberts’s compact and readable single volume of 1999, we now have Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s double-header, with Max Egremont’s somewhat shorter Life expected soon. Sassoon’s story has also reached a wider audience through television re-creations and through Pat Barker’s novel Regeneration. The image of the gallant officer who sickens of ...
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... problem is not so much to explain the rise of the so-called ‘New Historicism’ associated with Stephen Greenblatt and his friends and followers, as to account for the hostile reactions to it. Why should it be considered subversive to replace literary texts in their historical contexts? Is the movement dangerous because it is historicist or because it is ...

At Tate Modern

Julian Stallabrass: Conflict, Time, Photography, 19 February 2015

... a great deal of contrasting art photography – by Luc Delahaye, Agata Madejska, Simon Norfolk, Stephen Shore, Shomei Tomatsu, Jane and Louise Wilson and many others – in skilful juxtaposition.) McCullin reappears later in the show, this time photographing in Berlin in 1961 as the Wall is erected: curious US troops peer ...

The Eerie One

Bee Wilson: Peter Lorre, 23 March 2006

The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre 
by Stephen Youngkin.
Kentucky, 613 pp., $39.95, September 2005, 0 8131 2360 7
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... what he called the ‘latrine’ of Hollywood, Lorre’s place in the theatre world was eccentric. Stephen Youngkin’s reverent and scholarly new biography shows that the recurring themes of Lorre’s acting life were already set before he fled to Paris from Vienna in 1933: his distinctive mixture of comedy and creepiness, his struggle to avoid being ...

Merely a Warning that a Noun is Coming

Bee Wilson: The ‘Littlehampton Libels’, 8 February 2018

The Littlehampton Libels: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Mystery about Words in 1920s England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 256 pp., £30, June 2017, 978 0 19 879965 8
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... By the time of the libels, most of her older siblings had left home. Only two brothers, Stephen and Ernest, both of them labourers but often unemployed, remained. Edith’s mother is described by Hilliard as ‘quiet and unobtrusive’ whereas her father was irritable and quick to meddle in the affairs of others. At the time of the libels, Edith was ...

Warfare State

Thomas Meaney, 5 November 2020

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities 
by John J. Mearsheimer.
Yale, 320 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 0 300 23419 0
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Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition 
by David Hendrickson.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25.49, December 2017, 978 0 19 066038 3
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... them with fancy-dress pageants.The first signs of a new American dispensation came with Woodrow Wilson, who considered Central America a field for democratic tutelage, with interventions between 1913 and 1916 in Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. ‘We have with armed force invaded, made war upon, and conquered the two small republics,’ Teddy ...

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