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Adam Thorpe, 8 September 1994

... For every booming bittern there are ten, for every cliff-stacked gannet mass there is at least one with his clingfilmed lunch-pack, wringing his socks on St Kilda. This is surety of sorts. That the index finger will go on twitching till the loch gives up its greylag, the moor its merlin, that even the chough has its hangers-on grim-jawed on outcrops where the breakers’ sting assures Him that all the aeons’ messy fuss holds some of them in thrall, despite the mockery ...

The Nine Ladies on Stanton Moor

Adam Thorpe, 18 February 1999

... We know you’ve got a thing about us, scuffing the earth at our feet, giving us a voice. Like this. We know about the groans we’ve heard, the yelps in moonlight, rumours of progeny. Bellies keep pressing us; we decline. Thunder on the moor and your effeteness assured, we think of us as crown whetted on the storm, not bald queans. We know about the influx of coach parties; the way their crisp-packet ordinariness ruffles you, the way they laugh as they count us ...

Two Poems

Adam Thorpe, 6 March 2003

... Prints The dollardom shore of big Lake Michigan finds him doing what he did as a boy by real seas, running alongside them: the land’s hem stitched, he’d look back upon a long beach emptied by twilight (his spoor blurred as if already old), and turn it to Avalon, or Crusoe’s island. Even on the edge of Central Africa he had to change into somewhere else what they would always be alone with after the bush-drive; imagining this not ever seen, not watched, kept locked from eyes like a schoolgirl’s journal – older than lungs, earlier even than gill slits or the hair-like cilia of bivalves, the sea-edge stroking backwards through deep time and the blasts of geology, silvering his prints from laval sand with the stands of palm-trees cupped from sight by his hand ...


Adam Thorpe, 15 December 2016

... The Strandir coast begins with a dirt track, the guttural end of tarmac in a waste of bared rock, grass and scree, and empty coves where great white trunks have floated from Siberia: they litter the vast and stony strands like matches if seen from afar, but down among them now they block our way in booms of perimeter barriers, logs pale as the long drowned, stripped of bark to the white of washed-up sea-tangle, unburied thigh-bones ...

Two Poems

Adam Thorpe, 30 November 2006

... Drombeg County Cork Between the portals and the axials lay the central slab with its flotsam of euro-cents and hair-bangs, wet-scarred words, a Ryanair boarding pass kept from flight by a pebble. Just when the grey rain cleared enough to take a photograph and find the atmospherics I’d so looked forward to, your mobile rang. Our teenage son in Corsica, wild-camping with a hammock in the heatwave ...

Under Witchwood

Adam Thorpe, 10 September 1992

Power of the Witch: A Witch’s Guide to her Craft 
by Laurie Cabot, with Tom Cowan.
Arkana/Penguin, 294 pp., June 1992, 0 14 019368 5
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by Leslie Wilson.
Picador, 168 pp., £15.99, August 1992, 0 330 32427 6
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... A modern witch is a Witch. The upper case denotes a self-consciousness born of safer times: Witchcraft is now a minority faith to be taken seriously (at least in the States), and there is even a Witches’ League for Public Awareness. They need it. For the broomsticks, black cats, green-hued hags with pointy hats – all the paraphernalia people remember from childhood – have been joined by rumours about something deeply sinister and very adult going on in the suburbs ...


Jonathan Heawood: Adam Thorpe’s new novel, 18 August 2005

The Rules of Perspective 
by Adam Thorpe.
Cape, 341 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 224 05187 3
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... Adam Thorpe’s first novel, Ulverton (1992), was set in a fictional downland village, and traced its history from 17th-century isolation to M4 dormitory town. Thorpe told the story of this small English utopia in a mixture of letters, diaries and interviews. Each of the 12 sections of the novel is written in a different idiom, and can be read as a short story ...
Pieces of Light 
by Adam Thorpe.
Cape, 478 pp., £16.99, August 1998, 0 224 03988 1
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... and the ‘strong magic’ of his African relics, puzzling over his mother’s disappearance. Adam Thorpe’s extraordinary first novel, Ulverton, laid the past down like sediment, each chapter a slice of time, beginning in 1650 and ending ‘Here’, and in that way producing a wholly convincing village history in which distant events continue to ...

Palimpsest History

Jonathan Coe, 11 June 1992

by Adam Thorpe.
Secker, 382 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 436 52074 5
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by Leslie Dick.
Secker, 244 pp., £13.99, May 1992, 0 436 20011 2
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Frankie Styne and the Silver Man 
by Kathy Page.
Methuen, 233 pp., £13.99, April 1992, 0 413 66590 9
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... this same landscape, that Britain can never produce films of world stature). But here, anyway, is Adam Thorpe to prove the assumption triumphantly wrong, because his first novel is indeed a ‘palimpsest history’ of exceptional resonance and scope, even though its focus rests entirely on a single (fictional) English village, viewed over a period of ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... 1957) and Alan Moore (born 1960), and from the two outstanding contributors to New Chatto Poets, Adam Thorpe (born 1956) and Alan Jenkins (born 1955). One might call these four poets ‘sophisticated’, though this perhaps means no more than that they are all, in one way or another, Francophiles, and that they write without inhibition of affaires de ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... during the 1979 general election. This was part of his ‘oblique, crablike’ pursuit of Jeremy Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal Party. Allegations that Thorpe had hired a hit man to dispose of his former lover Norman Scott had been cropping up since 1975, nowhere more persistently than in Private Eye. ...


Theo Tait: Tom Wolfe’s Bloody Awful Novel, 6 January 2005

I am Charlotte Simmons 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 676 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 224 07486 5
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... important to the scheme of the book – and three suitors are homing in on her virtue: Hoyt Thorpe, one of the obnoxious frat boys; Jojo Johanssen, the only white boy on the college basketball team; and Adam Gellin, a poor, resentful, Jewish scholarship student. Hoyt gets there first, when, after several hundred pages ...


Hugh Honour, 13 November 1997

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... are 310 artists – painters, sculptors, architects, gem-carvers and engravers – from the Adam brothers to Wright of Derby. In Britain as elsewhere in Northern Europe and, indeed, in the states of Northern Italy, a visit to Rome was deemed an important if not an essential part of an artist’s education, although some who did not make it – Hogarth ...

Powers of Darkness

Michael Taylor: Made by Free Hands, 21 October 2021

Not Made by Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition 
by Bronwen Everill.
Harvard, 318 pp., £31.95, September 2020, 978 0 674 24098 8
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... and guns, thereby beginning the cycle of trade all over again. In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith ascribed the relative lack of African economic development to the ‘continual danger’ that supposedly confronted the continent’s inhabitants. In a sentence that defined the problem legitimate commerce sought to address, Thomas Malthus went ...

Jane Austen’s Word Process

Marilyn Butler, 25 June 1987

Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels and an Experiment in Method 
by J.F Burrows.
Oxford, 245 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 812856 8
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... Austen’s sizeable band of (mainly female) fools and vulgarians, including Mrs Jennings, Isabella Thorpe and Miss Bates. The diagram sums up Burrows’s Austen, an artist remarkably in command of her medium. Whether by labour or by intuition, she controls her creatures and their language, down to the lowest and least of its parts. If there is to be argument ...

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