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Fiction and Failure

Adrian Poole, 15 April 1982

Blind Understanding 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 159 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 0 09 146990 2
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Fifty Stories 
by Kay Boyle.
Penguin, 648 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 14 005922 9
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Unsolicited Gift 
by Jacqueline Simms.
Chatto, 151 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 7011 2616 7
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Nellie without Hugo 
by Janet Hobhouse.
Cape, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 01969 4
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Levitation: Five Fictions 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 436 25482 4
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... There is a point in Stanley Middleton’s Blind Understanding at which a man does not eat a dry biscuit. Listening to the sound of the nine o’clock television news from the distance of his kitchen, a 70-year-old retired solicitor remarks his immunity to the sad record of violent death, industrial disorder and foreign famine in worlds elsewhere. ‘Such did not touch him nearly; he could be disgruntled without adventitious help ...

Getting back

Adrian Poole, 1 July 1982

A crowd is not company 
by Robert Kee.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, May 1982, 9780224020039
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Bedbugs 
by Clive Sinclair.
Allison and Busby, 109 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 85031 454 2
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New Writing and Writers 19 
John Calder, 262 pp., £6.95, April 1982, 0 7145 3811 6Show More
Zhenia’s Childhood 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Alec Brown.
Allison and Busby, 115 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 85031 466 6
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... In what is by far the most rewarding item in Calder’s New Writing and Writers 19, the main character of Harry Mulisch’s ‘Antique Air’ thinks of the war as ‘an almost impenetrable barrier of death, fear, hunger’, separating him from his childhood. Yet paradoxically, the war is ‘perhaps his most precious possession, without which he can hardly imagine himself ...

In the Teeth of the Gale

A.D. Nuttall, 16 November 1995

The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation 
edited by Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule.
Oxford, 606 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 19 214209 7
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... but Robert Lowell needs ‘liberum’ to rhyme with ‘rhythm’ at the end of the next line). Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule allow themselves a similar donnish sharp intake of breath, in their Introduction, at the notorious howlers of Ezra Pound. The compilers of the Oxford Book have made an admirable collection for our time. Presumably, with the ...

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