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Peter Howarth: Robert Frost’s Prose, 6 November 2008

The Collected Prose of Robert Frost 
edited by Mark Richardson.
Harvard, 375 pp., £25.95, January 2008, 978 0 674 02463 2
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The Notebooks of Robert Frost 
edited by Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 809 pp., £25.95, January 2007, 978 0 674 02311 6
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... the Frost of the anthologies, the author of ‘guidebooks for the spirit of individualism’, as Robert Faggen puts it, attracted to empty woods and roads less travelled, and suspicious of New Deals and other easy offers of a lift. But real individualists don’t read guidebooks, and Frost wasn’t writing them. On receiving the Emerson-Thoreau medal in ...

Vigah

Elizabeth Drew: JFK, 20 November 2003

John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917-63 
by Robert Dallek.
Allen Lane, 838 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7139 9737 0
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... by toadying family retainers or by people bent on destroying the Camelot myth. The historian Robert Dallek is neither; he decided to enter the field, as he explains in his introduction, in part because documents had become available that threw new light on several aspects of Kennedy’s life, and in part because he thought the old ones should be given a ...

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Andrew O’Hagan: If something happens to me…, 5 May 2005

... if it would happen. And it did.”’ Something happened to my second ever schoolteacher, Mrs Wallace. We saw her totally somethinged in her coffin under a huge crucifix of Jesus Christ, to whom, by the look of the nails and the blood running down his arms and toes, there might also have been a question of something happening. Mrs ...

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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... Vendler to distort major figures helps her discriminate among lesser planets. Her inclusion of Robert Hayden, for example, is bold and welcome. Moreover, her promise to present writers ‘whole’ has more chance of being fulfilled with subsidiary figures. When Eliot judged anthologies less just to major than minor poets, he was, as often, lending his ...

Dunbar’s Disappearance

Sally Mapstone: William Dunbar, 24 May 2001

The Poems of William Dunbar 
edited by Priscilla Bawcutt.
Association for Scottish Literary Studies, £70, May 1999, 0 948877 38 3
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... as ‘oure Inglisch’. Most Lowland Scots – including the anglophobic Hary, author of the Wallace, a patriotic epic about the exploits of William Wallace – called their language ‘Inglis’ or ‘Inglisch’ until the early 16th century, when Gavin Douglas made a conscious point of maintaining that his ...

Slice of Life

Colin Burrow: Robin Robertson, 30 August 2018

The Long Take 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, February 2018, 978 1 5098 4688 7
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... 1944. The Long Take is laced with references to film noir, and to the work of the directors Robert Siodmak and Joseph H. Lewis in particular. The title alludes to the shot in Lewis’s Gun Crazy (1950) in which a getaway car is filmed in a long continuous shot ‘near three-and-a-half minutes straight through with no cuts’. The Long ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South).’ The book they were talking about was Douglas Crase’s The Revisionist. Out of print for almost forty years, it has now been reissued (Carcanet, £12.99) in a volume that also includes ...

Two Americas and a Scotland

Nicholas Everett, 27 September 1990

Collected Poems, 1937-1971 
by John Berryman, edited by Charles Thornbury.
Faber, 348 pp., £17.50, February 1990, 0 571 14317 2
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The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Faber, 427 pp., £17.50, February 1990, 0 571 14318 0
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Poems 1959-1979 
by Frederick Seidel.
Knopf, 112 pp., $19.95, November 1989, 0 394 58021 4
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These Days 
by Frederick Seidel.
Knopf, 50 pp., $18.95, October 1989, 0 394 58022 2
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A Scottish Assembly 
by Robert Crawford.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.99, April 1990, 0 7011 3595 6
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... while still an undergraduate at Columbia, where Mark Van Doren was his teacher and mentor; and Robert Penn Warren was the editor (at Southern Review) whom he first sought to impress. But if the New Critical aesthetic disciplined Berryman it also inhibited him. It gave him a good technical training, but its insistence on what he later called ‘Eliot’s ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... by established names, among them Frank Conroy, Stuart Dybeck, Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Stone and Amy Tan. Those writers known partly for formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected, engage with the question of how a story convinces us of ...

Why do you make me do it?

David Bromwich: Robert Ryan, 18 February 2016

... verb, no explanation – it is the first line of ‘Dutch Graves in Bucks County’, a poem that Wallace Stevens published in 1943. The image may have come from a march-of-time documentary of Americans training to fight in the Second World War. Probably the machines included tanks and a lorry convoy, possibly a squadron of fighter planes. What became of the ...

Riparian

Douglas Johnson, 15 July 1982

The Left Bank: Writers in Paris, from Popular Front to Cold War 
by Herbert Lottman.
Heinemann, 319 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 434 42943 0
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... by the exiled Madame de Staël, that it was this street that she missed most of all – whilst Robert Brasillach lived in the more elongated ugliness of the Rue Lecourbe, not far removed. But when they were in Spain, at the time of the Civil War, they were on different sides, and the books they wrote about the war were in sharp contrast one to the ...

A Human Kafka

Gabriel Josipovici, 5 March 1981

The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 297 77845 5
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... of Kafka’s art. Chief among these were the voices of Walter Benjamin, Maurice Blanchot, Marthe Robert and Erich Heller. Heller’s essay on The Castle in The Disinherited Mind (1952) marked a real turning point. He argued persuasively that it was folly to go on debating whether Kafka was religious or anti-religious, Marxist or bourgeois, Calvinist or ...

A Talented Past

Linda Colley, 23 April 1987

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. I: Survey 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 400 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. II: Constituencies 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 704 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. III: Members A-F 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 852 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. IV: Members G-P 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 908 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. V: Members P-Z 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 680 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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... the past by Harold Macmillan and is protected now by the enthusiasm of men such as Roy Jenkins and Robert Rhodes James. But why should those of us who are excluded from this desirable club at Westminster want such an extended work of collective biography? In the case of these volumes one obvious reason lies in the period that they cover. They begin one year ...

Knives, Wounds, Bows

John Bayley, 2 April 1987

Randall Jarrell’s Letters 
edited by Mary Jarrell.
Faber, 540 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 571 13829 2
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The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore 
edited by Patricia Willis.
Faber, 723 pp., £30, January 1987, 0 571 14788 7
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... Barzun, R.P. Blackmur, Alfred Kazin, Lionel Trilling, Delmore Schwartz, Allen Tate, Kenneth Burke, Robert Fitzgerald, Leslie Fiedler and John Crowe Ransom – this last its founder as a school of literary criticism ‘to teach those who teach it’. Marianne Moore, in Brooklyn, had a quieter time, but was just as much in touch with them all through friends and ...

It’s slippery in here

Christopher Tayler: ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’, 21 September 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 
created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.
Showtime/Sky Atlantic, 18 episodes, 21 May 2017 to 3 September 2017
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... At first glance the new series was just as disconnected from public concerns. James Comey and Robert Mueller might be on people’s minds, but on Twin Peaks the salient FBI boss is still Gordon Cole, a hearing-impaired, gee-whizzily cryptic character played by Lynch himself. We first caught up with him in a conference room, where a subordinate ...

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