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22 January 1987
... i.m. David Douglas, 1798-1834 Accompanied by eagles, David Douglas trecked Through forests and rivers in search of seed. Wet or wounded, he remained undaunted: His roots in Scone, his crown outside. The Indians called him ‘grassman’, Watched him paddle his own canoe. He went through rapids, escaped from a whirlpool, There seemed nothing he wouldn’t do ...
5 April 1984
Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmid: The Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... in the hitherto unpublished Aesthetics in Scotland and from the trammels of which the editor Alan Bold cannot cut himself entirely free. Oxenhorn recognises the national character of MacDiarmid’s poetry, but he is seeking to judge it in international terms. This involves a certain deflation of the undeniable element of bombast and overwriting in ...
10 November 1988
MacDiarmid 
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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... Hugh MacDiarmid did not exist. And only Christopher Murray Grieve would have dared to invent him. Alan Bold’s valuable biography points out that when the 30-year-old Grieve began to write in the Scottish Chapbook under the pseudonym ‘M’Diarmid’, he was already editing the magazine under his own name, reviewing for it as ‘Martin ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie

7 March 1985
The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... areas, MacDiarmid’s right principles are not backed up by, in Poundian phrase, ‘a sufficient phalanx of particulars’. He had not read enough, never found enough time or patience, to check his intuitions against the evidence. Thus, whereas he rightly recognised in Norman MacCaig a Scottish poet who wrote better in English than others had done in braid ...

The Fug o’Fame

David Goldie: Hugh MacDiarmid’s letters

6 June 2002
New Selected Letters 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Dorian Grieve.
Carcanet, 572 pp., £39.95, August 2001, 1 85754 273 8
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... worked hardest to argue for a division between the role of MacDiarmid and the person of Grieve was Alan Bold, MacDiarmid’s biographer. He knew Grieve in the later stages of his life and respected the sometimes tender, gentlemanly man he knew. These views inform his 1984 edition of the Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid, a fact he emphasised in the introduction ...

Travelling Hero

G.R. Wilson Knight

19 February 1981
Coriolanus in Europe 
by David Daniell.
Athlone, 168 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 485 11192 6
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... Berlin, Munich and Zurich. The company were known to Europe from previous visits, but it was a bold adventure, the bolder for the play chosen. It is far from easy in style, and only too likely to baffle a foreign audience, but if fully understood it is instead likely to channel fierce political passions. It had already ...

Bad Nights

D.A.N. Jones

23 October 1986
The Casualty 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Chatto, 189 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780701129286
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Augustus 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 339 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 370 30757 7
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Gabriel’s Lament 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 331 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 224 02823 5
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The Mind and Body Shop 
by Frank Parkin.
Collins, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 217695 5
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... of Virgil, Horace and Cicero. Allan Massie is a Scotsman, applauded for his Scottishness by Alan Bold and Douglas Dunn, and he has adopted one of Scott’s devices for excusing the excesses of his imagination. Sir Walter would insert into his historical romances the pedantic objections of some imaginary fool, called Dryasdust or Cleishbottom: after ...
10 November 1988
Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution 
by John Mason Hart.
California, 478 pp., $35, January 1988, 0 520 05995 6
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... peasant rebellion in south-western Mexico is important here). But he works on a big canvas, with bold brushstrokes. He does not involve himself much with the finer nuances of Mexican rural society, which have absorbed the attention of many recent historians (peasant subgroups, regional and local variations, considerations of mentalité); nor does he address ...
3 December 1981
... of The White Hotel offered itself: he knew Lisa would end up there. But why was it so obvious? The bold Eros/Thanatos diagram Thomas is intent on constructing is achieved at the expense of the sympathetic realism of the later parts of the novel, and the details of Lisa’s end conform to a literary and superimposed scheme. Thomas tries to justify this by ...
20 July 2000
... jaded, just more discriminating than he gave them credit for. He thought he was saying something bold and new in Britannia Hospital but even in 1982 he wasn’t – not in England anyway. One of his Polish friends said: ‘It’s the best Polish film I’ve seen in a long time.’ Of course his films provoked and when Britannia Hospital was shown at the ...

Dialect does it

Blake Morrison

5 December 1985
No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... colonels’ who want ‘to get this Great Country back on its feet’. A difficult balancing act, but Reading is one of our most technically inventive poets – the new book uses and discusses a form called Alcmanics (or is it Alcaics?) – and one of the few to describe our current impoverishments. Christopher Reid’s interrogation of language ...
23 April 1987
Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... This is the first of two volumes in which Alan Heuser is making a selection of Louis MacNeice’s occasional writings. The first is mainly his reviews of Classical and modern literature; the second will bring together his fugitive pieces on philosophy, history, travel and autobiography. The currently renewed interest in MacNeice arises from two considerations: one, that he deserves better than to be regarded as merely one of Auden’s acolytes; two, that he may be seen as precursor to the young poets in Northern Ireland who have been making a stir, if not a Renaissance, since 1968 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’

25 March 2010
Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... it works for Alice, who interprets it, at the end of the film, to mean that she should become a bold entrepreneur like her father, and sell some sort of unnamed goods to China, which apparently no one has thought of doing. You would have to believe in Wonderland, perhaps, in order to believe in China. Even Alice, though, wonders about having had the same ...

Modern Masters

Frank Kermode

24 May 1990
Where I fell to Earth: A Life in Four Places 
by Peter Conrad.
Chatto, 252 pp., £16, February 1990, 0 7011 3490 9
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May Week was in June 
by Clive James.
Cape, 249 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 224 02787 5
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... an undergraduate as slightly odd, was an interesting man, among other things a perfectly sane and bold gardener. Graham Hough, who won his pupil’s respect while trying to supervise a non-existent graduate thesis, is bafflingly and offensively described as ‘saintly’. But James wasn’t much interested in dons except in so far as they were legitimate ...

Fairy Lights

Jenny Turner

2 November 1995
Morvern Callar 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 224 pp., £9.99, February 1995, 0 224 04011 1
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... mixed arising from the every sight of that capital H for Him. What sort of novel do you suppose Alan Warner imagined himself first writing? A young boy’s life among the mountains he loved and which constrained him? A piece of social realism, about how hard life is for the isolated, economically marginal clumps of working-class people scattered here and ...

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