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MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... milieu which nourished this remarkable writer. For instance, Bold mentions that MacDiarmid knew Patrick Geddes, the Edinburgh polymath and pioneer of modern town planning. But no attention is paid to MacDiarmid’s own suggestion that Geddes’s literary magazine the Evergreen inspired the Scottish Chapbook. In the 1890s Geddes had espoused a Scots ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... approach is his reading of ‘The Dead’ from Dubliners, which dominates not just the entry for Joyce but for several other writers, too. When Gabriel Conroy arrives at the Morkans’ party, their West of Ireland maid pronounces his name in three syllables, reminding us of its Irish original ‘Conaire’. For Muldoon, this is only one of many signs of the ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... tracts excoriated by Yeats. O’Malley tells his story in cadences influenced by the early Joyce, D.H. Lawrence and American writer friends like Hart Crane, but with a dry assurance all his own. The heroics come through all the more powerfully in his highly-polished but economical style. The supreme example can be found in the closing paragraph of the ...

Sweaney Peregraine

Paul Muldoon, 1 November 1984

Station Island 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 123 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 571 13301 0
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Sweeney Astray: A Version 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 85 pp., £6.95, October 1984, 0 571 13360 6
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by Craig Raine.
Faber, 109 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 571 13215 4
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... Heaney’s sixth collection finds him on Station Island, Lough Derg, more commonly known as St Patrick’s Purgatory. It’s the setting for a pilgrimage undertaken by thousands of Irish men and women each year. For three days they fast and pray, deprive themselves of sleep, and walk barefoot round the station ‘beds’ – circles of rough stones said to ...

Like Heaven

Lorna Scott Fox, 22 May 1997

by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis.
Granta, 401 pp., £15.99, March 1997, 1 86207 007 5
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School Days 
by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Nebraska, 156 pp., $13, March 1997, 0 8032 6376 7
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... What would an English translator need at her elbow? Shakespeare, Sterne, Lewis Carroll again and Joyce, at least. She would have to be able to handle as many registers as her author. It says nothing for the respect of the Anglophone world for the literature of other countries when a novel as important as this is so poorly served by what may be its only ...

What’s wrong with that man?

Christian Lorentzen: Donald Antrim, 20 November 2014

The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories 
by Donald Antrim.
Granta, 158 pp., £12.99, November 2014, 978 1 84708 649 5
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... One way to think about Antrim is as a stoic comedian, the term Hugh Kenner applied to Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett (as well as Buster Keaton). ‘The stoic,’ Kenner wrote, ‘is one who considers, with neither panic nor indifference, that the field of possibilities available to him is large perhaps, or small perhaps, but closed.’ Such an artist ...

Neil Corcoran confronts the new recklessness

Neil Corcoran, 28 September 1989

Manila Envelope 
by James Fenton.
28 Kayumanggi St, West Triangle Homes, Quezon City, Phillipines, 48 pp., £12, May 1989, 971 8647 01 5
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New Selected Poems 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 190 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15482 4
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The Mirror Wall 
by Richard Murphy.
Bloodaxe, 61 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9781852240929
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Selected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 85635 741 3
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The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 47 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3455 0
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... visual and verbal punning puts me in mind of Frank O’Connor’s account of a picture he saw in Joyce’s Paris flat: the city of Cork in a cork frame. An instance, no doubt, of Joyce’s compulsive punning, the picture can also be viewed as the manifestation of an ambiguous attitude. The visual pun depreciates the city ...

The Sacred Cause of Idiom

Frank Kermode: Lady Gregory, 22 January 2004

Lady Gregory's Toothbrush 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 127 pp., £7.99, September 2003, 0 330 41993 5
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... declined. The case against the Gregory circle was most emphatically stated by the youthful James Joyce, who, as Tóibín puts it, would have pointed out that ‘there was a whole world under Lady Gregory’s nose – of clerks and servants and lower middle-class Catholics and Dublin loungers and layabouts – which she never noticed.’ Gregory had a busy ...

What you see is what you get

Terry Eagleton: Bishop Berkeley, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of George Berkeley 
edited by Marc Hight.
Cambridge, 674 pp., £75, November 2012, 978 1 107 00074 2
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... of a spiritual dialogue. Substance is really signification, a notion that crops up as late as Joyce’s sense of objects as signatures of the invisible. The idea is really eucharistic, though Berkeley would probably not have thought so: in the eucharist, the bread and wine cease to be material entities and become a medium of pure presence. Much of this is ...

So, puss, I shall know you another time

Peter Campbell, 8 December 1988

The World through Blunted Sight 
by Patrick Trevor-Roper.
Allen Lane, 207 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7139 9006 6
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Visual Fact over Verbal Fiction 
by Carl Goldstein.
Cambridge, 244 pp., £40, September 1988, 0 521 34331 3
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Hockney on Photography: Conversations with Paul Joyce 
Cape, 192 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 224 02484 1Show More
Portrait of David Hockney 
by Peter Webb.
Chatto, £17.95, November 1988, 0 7011 3401 1
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... a little too short makes close ones blurred. Short and long sight are the first disabilities which Patrick Trevor-Roper discusses in The World through Blunted Sight, his newly-revised exploration of the effect of eye-defects on personality, art and literature. He endorses T. Rice’s epitomes of short and long-sighted personalities which, made some sixty years ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... summer visitors. Published by Jack Kahane’s Obelisk Press in Paris (alongside work by Joyce, Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin), The Dead Bury the Dead features a lustful and predatory young grave-digger, who races around in a borrowed car, forcing himself on his shop-girl fiancée, overriding the more sophisticated embraces of the wife of an absent ...

Brooke’s Benefit

Anthony Powell, 16 April 1981

... when he entered King’s School, Canterbury (alma mater of Christopher Marlowe, Somerset Maugham, Patrick Leigh-Fermor), from which Brooke ran away in the first week. He was sent back. The second week he ran away again. The second withdrawal marked the termination of his residence there, which had lasted less than a fortnight. Brooke’s parents – whom he ...


Barbara Everett, 10 November 1988

A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Barrie and Jenkins, 290 pp., £16.95, September 1988, 0 7126 2197 0
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... its two chief characters, who mainly share the narration, are continuations of the late-Fifties Patrick and Jenny from Take a girl like you, thus giving the story its own recessive and wistful casting-back posture. In addition, though a light and easy and genuinely funny book, Difficulties with girls has a good deal of commerce with violence, darkness and ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... of it, or the title of the second anyway. Finn. Finnegan. It was here on 10 June 1904 that James Joyce met Nora Barnacle, who worked in the hotel. The two young strangers who had locked eyes stopped to talk, and they arranged to meet four days later outside the house where Sir William Wilde, eye surgeon to the queen in Ireland, if she should have ever needed ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... Nor was the father a tyrant; he introduced his son to the works of Hardy and, more surprisingly, Joyce, did not regard jazz as the work of the devil, bought him a subscription to the magazine Downbeat (a signpost here) and also helped him invest in a drum-kit. What if anything he bought his daughter Kitty and what Mrs Larkin thought of it all is not ...

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