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Peter Robinson, 20 February 1986

Collected Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 351 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 19 211974 5
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Selected and New Poems: 1939-84 
by J.C. Hall.
Secker, 87 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 436 19052 4
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Burning the knife: New and Selected Poems 
by Robin Magowan.
Scarecrow Press, 114 pp., £13.50, September 1985, 0 8108 1777 2
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Englishmen: A Poem 
by Christopher Hope.
Heinemann, 41 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 434 34661 6
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Selected Poems: 1954-1982 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 175 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 436 16754 9
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Writing Home 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 19 211970 2
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... Tomlinson’s pronouns are also more unstable than I had granted. He acknowledges in ‘Over Elizabeth Bridge ...’                                 that uncertainty And restless counterpointing of a verse ‘So wary of its I’, Iván, is me. In his 1978 collection, ‘The Scream’ has the poet dragged out of sleep by ...

Why Goldwyn Wore Jodhpurs

David Thomson, 22 June 2000

The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper 
by Dominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp., £17.99, October 1999, 0 609 60388 4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers 
by Maria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp., £22, November 1999, 0 8109 4130 9
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... always a bit of a snob, and once chucked out of Andover, was impressed that Dunne had been to Williams College. He invited the nobody kid to a party at his home in the Holmby Hills. Dunne knew he was out of his element there, but he took it all in: Judy Garland and Sinatra singing ‘impromptu’ with a hired piano player. All the stars. ‘Before the ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... poet with atrophied tastes, he can expect a commission to do something tasteful on Glynn Williams. The Commander has become the ashy residue of Neo-Romanticism, out there in the Fens, a John Piper with backbone, silhouetted against lowering skies, fretting to escape the inconvenience of some vulgar stiff and get at those rough flint churches. Philip ...

God’s Iceberg

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 December 1986

The ‘ Titanic’: The Full Story of a Tragedy 
by Michael Davie.
Bodley Head, 244 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780370307640
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The IT Girls: Elinor Glyn and Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon 
by Meredith Etherington-Smith and Jeremy Pilcher.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11950 2
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... bystander and suggested he run along the deck to see if any stray pieces of ice had come on board. Elizabeth Eustis and Martha Eustis Stevenson, sisters from Haverford, Pennsylvania, travelling first-class, were asleep in their cabin. The collision, though almost soundless – ‘like tearing a strip of calico, nothing more’ – woke them up. ...

A Terrible Bad Cold

John Sutherland, 27 September 1990

Dickens 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 1195 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 1 85619 000 5
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... through his fiction just as it flowed through the city itself. There’s a strong whiff of Emlyn Williams ham in all this and one reaches for Trollope’s prissy ‘Of Dickens’s style it is impossible to speak in praise. It is jerky, ungrammatical, and created by himself in defiance of rules ... No young novelist should ever dare to imitate the style of ...

What did she do with those beds?

Thomas Keymer: Eliza Haywood, 3 January 2013

A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood 
by Kathryn King.
Pickering and Chatto, 288 pp., £60, June 2012, 978 1 85196 917 3
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... in earlier scholarship on Haywood, the Rev. Valentine Haywood, a hapless clergyman whose wife Elizabeth absconded in 1721, prompting him to advertise for leads in a London newspaper. This Elizabeth, it seems, was someone else. More important than the biographical red herrings are the enduring assumptions that flow from ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... girls, but doesn’t follow this up by examining the remarkable letters written by Mrs Thrale, the Elizabeth Montagu set, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the Duchess of Devonshire or Lady Elizabeth Foster; the Duchess’s novel Sylph is not treated, either. In the second half of the book, ‘Literary Achievements’, we are on ...

Broken Knowledge

Frank Kermode, 4 August 1983

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 383 pp., £9.50, March 1983, 0 19 214111 2
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The Travellers’ Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
Routledge, 1022 pp., £24.95, April 1983, 0 7100 0992 5
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... degree of overlap between Auden and Gross. Auden fancies aphorists like Simone Weil and Charles Williams, neither to be found in Gross, and Gross has his pets – Sherrington, for instance, and Thomas Szasz, unknown to Auden. The earlier book has a useful thematic index, Gross’s has not. Gross is more specific about his sources. Both classify their ...
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... cure even the most Irish of us of our Englishness. In The Occasions of Poetry there are essays on Williams, Snyder and Robert Duncan, and in Shelf Life on Whitman, H.D., Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg and two essays on Robert Duncan. He reprints his review of Helen Vendler’s book of contemporary poetry (published by Harvard in the ...

Punch-up at the Poetry Reading

Joanna Kavenna: Dorothy Porter’s verse novel, 7 May 1998

The Monkey's Mask 
by Dorothy Porter.
Serpent’s Tail, 264 pp., £9.99, October 1997, 1 85242 549 0
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... exclusion has made the genre ripe for feminist and lesbian reworking. Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Elizabeth George, Mary Wings and Katherine Forrest have re-created the detective as a single or Sapphic thirty-something woman, brandishing a handgun. The shape-shifting and self-suppression which most women, and especially lesbian women, perform daily have ...

Real isn’t real

Michael Wood: Octavio Paz, 4 July 2013

The Poems of Octavio Paz 
edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger.
New Directions, 606 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 8112 2043 9
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... of the translations are by Weinberger himself, but there are also versions of individual poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Muriel Rukeyser and Charles Tomlinson. In the notes Weinberger has glossed allusions, and brought together, as my quotations have suggested, an illuminating set of comments by Paz himself. Paz’s recurring ...

Zounds

Frank Kermode: Blasphemy, 14 January 2002

Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... suffered a shortage of torturers when they were needed, men who don’t even have the excuse of Elizabeth I or Calvin that to diminish the horror of the punishment was somehow to condone or even share in the offence. Sometimes ecclesiastical authorities, in milder mood, asked only for public penance, but up to about 1700 there was a preference for judicial ...

Two Hares and a Priest

Patricia Beer: Pushkin, 13 May 1999

Pushkin 
by Elizabeth Feinstein.
Weidenfeld, 309 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 297 81826 0
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... has been said about either Pushkin or his wife in this country, but in a recent broadcast Gwyn Williams described Natalya as a ‘good-natured bimbo’, not a very fierce comment but not a tribute one would choose to have on one’s tombstone. Well-informed about the problems of Natalya’s upbringing, Feinstein is balanced in her presentation of her ...

Rat Poison

David Bromwich, 17 October 1996

Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Beacon, 143 pp., $20, February 1996, 0 8070 4108 4
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... certain sharers of her aims: among literary critics, Wayne Booth; among philosophers, Bernard Williams and Stanley Cavell; among social scientists, Amartya Sen. Nussbaum explains her discovery of virtues eloquently, volubly, in the manner of a belated Victorian moralist. The reverse of a dry writer, she is fairly often deeply moved, and you come to know ...

May I come to your house to philosophise?

John Barrell: Godwin’s Letters, 8 September 2011

The Letters of William Godwin Vol. I: 1778-97 
by Pamela Clemit.
Oxford, 306 pp., £100, February 2011, 978 0 19 956261 9
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... the publication of An Enquiry concerning Political Justice in 1793 and The Adventures of Caleb Williams the following year, and ends shortly after the death in September 1797 of Mary Wollstonecraft, six months after their marriage, during the darkest period of his mourning. The volume includes letters to Joseph Priestley, Thomas Lawrence, John ...

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