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Frank Kermode

Mary-Kay Wilmers: On Frank Kermode, 9 September 2010

... event the ‘shudder’ turned out to have little to do with Shakespeare and much to do with T.S. Eliot, and also with Frank. When we printed the piece in the paper, Don Coles, a Canadian poet, wrote in to say that he thought ‘the four pages of this essay the finest I have read in the LRB, this issue or any other’. Before publishing the letter we sent it ...

In Russell Square

Peter Campbell: Exploring Bloomsbury, 30 November 2006

... a London publishing house was very often just that – a business run from a house. When T.S. Eliot was with them, Faber and Faber were on the corner of Russell Square opposite the SOAS extension (it is marked by a blue plaque; SOAS now occupies that building too). Thinking back to what such offices were like, you realise that an 18th-century division of ...

Dark Tom

Christopher Ricks, 1 December 1983

Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley 1933-1980 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 323 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 28852 4
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Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Fontana, 274 pp., £2.50, October 1983, 0 00 636644 9
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... biography is itself a notable contribution to ‘The Literature of Fascism’ which T.S. Eliot was judging with that sentence in 1928. In 1928 Oswald Mosley was still an up-and-coming Labour MP. It was the year after Eliot had made manifest that the something which satisfied his own craving to believe was ...


Christopher Tayler: Muriel Spark’s Essays, 25 September 2014

The Golden Fleece: Essays 
by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine.
Carcanet, 226 pp., £16.99, March 2014, 978 1 84777 251 0
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... and Roy Campbell as potential allies, Geoffrey Grigson lurking threateningly in the wings and T.S. Eliot a very distant god. The former Muriel Camberg joined this cast in 1944 after a stint in southern Africa, where she’d ended a short marriage to the unstable if catchily named Sydney Spark. She was armed with an education from James Gillespie’s School for ...

Grey Eminence

Edward Said, 5 March 1981

Walter Lippmann and the American Century 
by Ronald Steel.
Bodley Head, 669 pp., £8.95, February 1981, 0 370 30376 8
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... cart in Central Park’ before going off to Harvard, where his classmates included John Reed, T.S. Eliot and Conrad Aiken. From birth to death, Fortune – in the form of knowing nearly everyone who counted and being able to defend at least two sides of every major public issue of his time – always favoured him. The list of his friends, his associates, the ...

The Wives of Herr Bear

Julia Briggs: Jane Harrison, 21 September 2000

The Invention of Jane Harrison 
by Mary Beard.
Harvard, 229 pp., £23.50, July 2000, 0 674 00212 1
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... properly, a matrilineal society), preceding the rule of Zeus and the Olympians. T.S. Eliot drew on her sense of the rituals underlying Greek drama, incorporating it into his own plays, where he integrated the modern primitive (desert islands and sex murders) into Sweeney Agonistes. In The Family Reunion he transformed the Erinyes from fearful ...

Will to Literature

David Trotter: Modernism plc, 13 May 1999

Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture 
by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 227 pp., £16.95, January 1999, 0 300 07050 0
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Modernism, Technology and the Body: A Cultural Study 
by Tim Armstrong.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £14.95, March 1998, 0 521 59997 0
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Body Ascendant: Modernism and the Physical Imperative 
by Harold Segel.
Johns Hopkins, 282 pp., £30, September 1998, 0 8018 5821 6
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Solid Objects: Modernism and the Test of Production 
by Douglas Mao.
Princeton, 308 pp., £32.50, November 1998, 0 691 05926 8
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... fellows spent their lives. This feeling was most fully and influentially articulated by T.S. Eliot, when he argued, in ‘Ulysses, Order and Myth’ (1923), that the novel had in effect ‘ended’ with Flaubert and James: the very formlessness which had once made it the adequate ‘expression’ of a previous age, an age not yet formless enough to ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: What Writers Wear, 27 July 2017

... which include ‘Glasses’, ‘Hats’ and ‘Suits’, the latter bringing Gay Talese and T.S. Eliot into unlikely proximity. There are also pull quotes with such fun facts as that Jacqueline Susann’s ambition as a schoolgirl ‘was to own a mink coat’, and in the early 1970s Samuel Beckett used a ‘now classic leather Gucci hobo holdall as his ...

Faulting the Lemon

James Wood: Iris Murdoch, 1 January 1998

Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 546 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7011 6629 0
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... of their awareness of others ... for the novelist this is at the highest level the most crucial test.’ That her own fiction fails this test, indeed that it commits many of the sins she has proscribed, is not lost on her. The struggle between breviary and right conduct, the wrestle to turn a plan into a real city, is one ...

In theory

Christopher Ricks, 16 April 1981

... harm in that, unless you announce there is harm in that), as when he suggests that T.S. Eliot’s ‘dissociation of sensibility’ really shows ‘that social and intellectual issues have gotten confused in a characteristic English way.’ Annulling even the possibility of a principled alternative to theory – namely, principles – Hartman slides ...


Christopher Ricks, 3 May 1984

Swift: The Man, His Works and the Age: Vol III. Dean Swift 
by Irvin Ehrenpreis.
Methuen, 1066 pp., £40, December 1983, 0 416 85400 1
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Swift’s Tory Politics 
by F.P. Lock.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £18, November 1983, 0 7156 1755 9
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Jonathan Swift: Political Writer 
by J.A. Downie.
Routledge, 391 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 7100 9645 3
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The Character of Swift’s Satire 
edited by Claude Rawson.
Associated University Presses, 343 pp., £22.50, April 1984, 0 87413 209 6
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... to emulate the supreme Swiftian manner, does nevertheless command the steely style which T.S. Eliot praised. Deploring the symptoms of decay in the wording of the preface to the Revised Prayer Book, Eliot concluded: ‘And there was once a Dean (of St Patrick’s) who formed the purest, the most supple, the most useful ...


David Trotter, 14 September 1989

The Rainbow 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 672 pp., £55, March 1989, 0 521 22869 7
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D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World 
edited by Peter Preston and Peter Hoare.
Macmillan, 221 pp., £29.50, May 1989, 0 333 45269 0
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D.H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreading 
by Peter Balbert.
Macmillan, 190 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 333 43964 3
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... to denigrate ‘the greatest imaginative novelist’ of his generation. A bored highbrow, T.S. Eliot, at once protested that he didn’t know what was meant by ‘greatest’, ‘imaginative’ or ‘novelist’. Twenty years later, F.R. Leavis was still having to contend with Eliot’s insistence that Lawrence had been ...

Hink Tank

Nicholas Penny, 19 July 1984

The Gymnasium of the Mind: The Journals of Roger Hinks 1933-1963 
edited by John Goldsmith.
Michael Russell, 287 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 85955 096 6
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... that he was one of the handful of highbrows. He is careful to record not only a joke made by T.S. Eliot in allusion to a maxim by La Rochefoucauld but also the fact that he, Hinks, shared it, whereas an ‘egregious’ American professor failed to see the point. In Rome he sits near Jean-Paul Sartre at dinner and we are made to feel that the Frenchman was ...

Save us from the saviours

Slavoj Žižek: Europe and the Greeks, 7 June 2012

... fear. They will not succumb; they will not be blackmailed.’ Syriza have an almost impossible task. Theirs is not the voice of extreme left ‘madness’, but of reason speaking out against the madness of market ideology. In their readiness to take over, they have banished the left’s fear of taking power; they have the courage to clear up the mess ...

Dead Cats and Fungi

Robert Taubman, 20 March 1980

by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 255 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 340 24565 4
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The Mirror of the Giant 
by Penelope Shuttle.
Marion Boyars, 165 pp., £5.95, January 1980, 0 7145 2679 7
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Another Part of the Wood 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 7156 1458 4
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Wild Oats 
by Jacob Epstein.
Alison Press/Secker, 267 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 436 14826 9
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In the Secret State 
by Robert McCrum.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 241 10322 3
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... to change colour, according to the time of night or day.’ Hardly more than a ghost herself, her task is to exorcise the spirit of a drowned woman haunting her husband Theron. The Cerne Abbas giant, who counsels her, has the tones of T.S. Eliot: ‘I only know it is from you the knowledge will come.’ Since the ghost is ...

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