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Ismism

Evan Kindley: Modernist Magazines, 23 January 2014

The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 976 pp., £35, May 2013, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume II: North America 1894-1960 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 1088 pp., £140, July 2012, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume III: Europe 1880-1940 
edited by Peter Brooker, Sascha Bru, Andrew Thacker and Christian Weikop.
Oxford, 1471690 pp., £145, March 2013, 978 0 19 965958 6
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... Fin-de-siècle periodicals like the Yellow Book, the Chameleon and the Savoy took inspiration from William Morris, Charles Ricketts and other luminaries of the Arts and Crafts movement, favouring medieval typefaces, elaborate woodcut illustrations, uncut pages and plenty of white space. An equivalent international vogue for ‘ephemeral bibelots’ was ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake, 20 August 1981

The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... venomous and virulent, as well as being frequently obscene and licentious. The reigns of William III and Queen Anne were marked by intense political partisanship, and the language used in attacks on government and parliament provoked retaliation. The Stamp Duty Act of that year caused Swift to lament ‘that all Grub Street is ruined.’ This was an ...

Everybody wants a Rembrandt

Nicholas Penny, 17 March 1983

The Rare Art Traditions 
by Joseph Alsop.
Thames and Hudson, 691 pp., £30, November 1982, 0 500 23359 4
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... art Alsop gives us a previously unpublished quatrain by Dorothy Parker on a picture given by William Randolph Hearst to his mistress: Upon my honour, I saw a Madonna Hanging within a niche Above the door of the private whore Of the world’s worst son of a bitch. I’m not sure that this is so inappropriate (whores have often had devotional ...

Down among the press lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

The Life and Death of the Press Barons 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 288 pp., £12.50, December 1982, 0 436 06811 7
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... they sold the news. No, as it happens, we are not talking about the Sun. We are talking about William Randolph Hearst’s Journal. The war is against Spain rather than Argentina, and it is April 1898 rather than April 1982. But we might just as well have been talking about the Sun. Like the Journal, it is a paper that makes up stories, manufactures ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes, 18 June 1998

Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... stop with Eliot,’ he trumpeted. ‘He is merely the first. It is the restart of civilisation.’ William Carlos Williams, working fairly happily as a doctor in New Jersey, was to be Pound’s second escapee. Marianne Moore might be his third. At one stage, he envisaged annual liberations – assuming, of course, that a sufficient supply of stifled talent was ...

An Address to the Nation

Clive James, 17 December 1981

... and of all its farce, And think of all those books gone down the drain By Amis, Amis, Bainbridge, Barnes, Bragg, Braine ... But artists of all kinds can be excused For cherishing a stratified society. Their privilege, which exists to be abused, Is to lay hold of life in its variety. Granted they do it well, we are amused And readily forgive the note of piety ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... purposive, energetic-sounding verb ‘moved into’, is meaningless unless it is explained that William Golding’s The Paper Men was a late, and lame, novel of remarkable thinness by an old famous author about being a famous author. It was metafictional only in the way that reality TV is metatelevisual. Stevenson never reflects on a writer’s aesthetic ...

Poet at the Automat

Eliot Weinberger: Charles Reznikoff, 22 January 2015

... and George Oppen. The three, all Jewish New Yorkers, shared an admiration for Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and a belief, along with Williams, that American modernism should be relocated from Paris and London to the US. Asked to edit an issue of Poetry in 1931, Zukofsky put them together, along with Williams, Carl Rakosi, Basil Bunting, Kenneth ...

NHS SOS

James Meek, 5 April 2018

... And there’s another financial pressure, perhaps the biggest of all. In 1966 the US economist William Baumol noted a divergence in modern rich-world economies between industries in which people could easily be replaced by technology, such as manufacturing, and industries fundamentally reliant on people, like healthcare and education and, the subject of ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... Ask who the leading young British novelists are and you may well be told Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, William Boyd, Julian Barnes. Given that writers typically have long careers and get better with age, ‘young’ is not entirely a misnomer applied here. Like politicians, novelists can be youthful long after the point at which ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... of the mid-Forties got the Third Programme right straight off. The BBC’s Director-General, William Haley, credited himself with having created the network by two decisions. Programmes should take as long as they needed to, and not be curtailed to make way for, say, a fixed news bulletin. Schedulers were urged to be as creative as they liked with an ...

Shockers

Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... Richler prints a vivid – and typically too-brief – extract from Staring at the Sun by Julian Barnes (b. 1946), although nothing from Shuttlecock, by Graham Swift (b. 1949), which gives the best description I know of the territory, real and psychological, in which his generation grew up in Britain: What attracted me then about Camber was less its ...
Ransom 
by Jay McInerney.
Cape, 279 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 224 02355 1
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Bright Lights, Big City 
by Jay McInerney.
Flamingo/Fontana, 182 pp., £2.75, April 1986, 0 00 654173 9
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... has a quotation from The sun also rises as its epigraph, and Ransom does a passable Jake Barnes for the benefit of a couple of tourists who come – a nice touch, if a bit obvious – from Rochester, ‘the home of Kodak’: He introduced his wife, Elizabeth, and said: ‘This young man here is an old Japan hand.’    ‘Oh, wonderful. We ...

Little Lame Balloonman

August Kleinzahler: E.E. Cummings, 9 October 2014

E.E. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 
edited by George James Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £36, September 2013, 978 0 87140 710 8
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E.E. Cummings: A Life 
by Susan Cheever.
Pantheon, 209 pp., £16, February 2014, 978 0 307 37997 9
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... a Harvard professor and Unitarian minister, his mother came from a distinguished Boston family. William James introduced the pair and became one of Edward Estlin’s godfathers. As well as the grand house at 104 Irving Street where he was born, Cummings’s family had a summer house in New Hampshire, which he would enjoy until the end of life. He died there ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

Heroines 
by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... who don’t need to live something in order to write it, who use their ‘imaginations’. William Vollmann, with whom Zambreno professes a sympathy, intentionally puts himself in extreme situations, then writes about them. David Foster Wallace (to whom Zambreno doesn’t relate) in his fiction seemingly did not. So when Keeler, offended by ...

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