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Give Pot a Chance

Roy Porter, 8 June 1995

Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine 
by Lester Grinspoon, edited by James Bakalar.
Yale, 184 pp., £7.95, April 1995, 0 300 05994 9
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... This is not hard to explain. In studies of traditional contraception and abortion practices, John Riddle has demonstrated how often knowledge of therapeutic agents formerly possessed by the folk memory and by medical practitioners has been lost. Urbanisation obliterates hand-me-down lore. Medicine’s growing claims to ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... I found a weed that had a mirror in it and that mirror looked in at a mirror in me that had a weed in it Language is bent so decisively towards realising solipsism here that its energies are lost in scription. What the Dainty Device requires is blank assent; and if someone answers ‘no’ they precipitate a philosophical rather than poetic ...

True Bromance

Philip Clark: Ravi Shankar’s Ragas, 15 July 2021

Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar 
by Oliver Craske.
Faber, 672 pp., £12.99, June, 978 0 571 35086 5
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... that, there is something very deep that is yet to be appreciated by Westerners.’ George Harrison and Ravi Shankar at the Royal Albert Hall on 23 September 1974. Images of Shankar – sitting cross-legged on a carpet, playing his sitar – have become synonymous with Indian classical music, yet when his story is told it too often focuses on his ...

Votes for Women, Chastity for Men

Brian Harrison, 21 January 1988

Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... to name only a few. Yet almost at once there came rumblings from Cambridge. Maurice Cowling, John Vincent, Andrew Jones and others rightly emphasised the Victorian politician’s relative autonomy from popular pressure, and cleverly unveiled the feebleness of provincial and popular reformers when they tried to operate at Westminster or Whitehall. Since ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where was I in 1987?, 10 December 1987

... the Pyramids. Not expecting much, I am not put off by the litter and trash, and even the dead dog my camel steps round does not seem out of place. The Sphinx, like a personality seen on TV then met in the flesh, is smaller than one had imagined and it’s quite hard to tell how tall the Pyramids themselves are. In the distance stand the towers and skyscrapers ...

Public Works

David Norbrook, 5 June 1986

The Faber Book of Political Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 481 pp., £17.50, May 1986, 0 571 13947 7
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... of poetry must always take account of genre. I must gratefully acknowledge Paulin’s praise of my own study of Renaissance poetry and politics, but would add that many, including Fowler, have been unpersuaded by my emphasis on Jonson’s conservatism: while standing by my own ...

Good Things: Pederasty and Jazz and Opium and Research

Lawrence Rainey: Mary Butts, 16 July 1998

Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life 
by Nathalie Blondel.
McPherson, 539 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 929701 55 0
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The Taverner Novels: ‘Armed with Madness’, ‘Death of Felicity Taverner’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 18 6
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The Classical Novels: ‘The Macedonian’, ‘Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 384 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 42 9
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‘Ashe of Rings’ and Other Writings 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £18.50, March 1998, 0 929701 53 4
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... from the lift. When they begin, Butts is living with a lover named Eleanor Rogers but also seeing John Rodker, an aspiring writer who is chiefly known today for his activities as a publisher of deluxe editions: a portfolio of Fifteen Drawings by Wyndham Lewis (1919), Ara Vos Prec by Eliot (1920), and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and Cantos 17-27 by Pound ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... home? Answering the pulls and torsions of that question produces much of the verse of Heaney, Harrison and Dunn, but it also produces very different kinds of poetry. Martianism had nothing to do with Mars, everything to do with home, the place where Craig Raine (like Murray or Dunn) feels richest. Surely Martianism comes from the ‘Ithaca’ section of ...

Save it for HBO

Jenny Diski: Stanley Fish and ‘The Fugitive’, 17 March 2011

The Fugitive in Flight: Faith, Liberalism and Law in a Classic TV Show 
by Stanley Fish.
Pennsylvania, 152 pp., £16.50, November 2010, 978 0 8122 4277 5
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... revealed (can anyone now remember?). In 1993 The Fugitive was made into a huge action movie with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, and then briefly resuscitated in modern dress for TV and DVD in 2001. In the original, the story starts before the series begins. Richard Kimble, a paediatrician, got home one night, having left to cool down after an argument ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII, 26 April 2012

Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... In a chapter on animals in his Description of England, the Elizabethan antiquary William Harrison told not one but two stories about Henry VII. ‘As the report goeth’, he wrote, the king had had all the mastiffs in England put to death because ‘they durst presume to fight against the lion, who is their king and sovereigne ...

The road is still open

David Wootton: Turpin Hero?, 3 February 2005

Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 258 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 1 86197 418 3
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... into the last century as a folksong, ‘Turpin Hero’, the chorus of which is: ‘For I’m the hero, the Turpin hero, I am the great Dick Turpin Ho.’ ‘Turpin Hero’ is the source of Joyce’s title for the forerunner to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ‘Stephen Hero’. Turpin is no hero to James Sharpe, who sets out to cut him down to ...

Star Warrior

John Sutherland, 6 October 1983

Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas 
by Dale Pollock.
Elm Tree, 304 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 241 11034 3
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Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided 
by Leslie Fiedler.
Oxford, 236 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 503086 9
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... back have sold getting on for $900m worth of tickets. C-3PO and R2-D2 are as well known as Pope John Paul or Mickey Mouse. Lucas’s second movie and first hit, American Graffiti (produced by Francis Coppola, conceived and directed by Lucas), was the most profitable investment in Hollywood history: it brought in $117m against a production cost of ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... North Uist’, and Keith Bosley’s ‘Corolla’; Aidan Carl Mathews’s ‘Severances’, and John Levett’s ‘The Photographs of Paris’. The first two are longish, the others shorter. The only one that won a prize – and that the smallest, £100 – is ‘Corolla’, a sequence of nine exactly rhymed and metred sonnets, culminating in a stunning ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Unpopular Culture, 5 June 2008

... tight-lipped woman who, accompanied/By all she knows of love on leather leash’), Tony Harrison (‘In each of our Blackpool photos from those years/and, I’ll bet, in every family’s South Pier snap’) and Philip Larkin (‘We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls/In parodies of fashion, heels and veils’) hit the same sweetly rasping note ...

Dome Laureate

Dennis O’Driscoll: Simon Armitage, 27 April 2000

Killing Time 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 52 pp., £6.99, December 1999, 0 571 20360 4
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Short and Sweet: 101 Very Short Poems 
edited by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 112 pp., £4.99, October 1999, 9780571200016
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... rather than reporting from them, distinguishes his work from that of his fellow Yorkshireman, Tony Harrison. He offers a vivid and witty eyewitness account of the solar eclipse, as seen through his protective glasses, but handles the more tragic stories of 1999 with protective layers of metaphor. In the case of the high school shootings in Colorado, for ...

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