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Regrets

Michael Wood, 17 December 1992

The Art of Cinema 
by Jean Cocteau, André Bernard and Claude Gauteur, translated by Robin Buss.
Marion Boyars, 224 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 7145 2947 8
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Jean Renoir: A Life in Pictures 
by Célia Bertin, translated by Mireille Muellner and Leonard Muellner.
Johns Hopkins, 403 pp., £20.50, August 1991, 0 8018 4184 4
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Jean Renoir: Projections of Paradise 
by Ronald Bergan.
Bloomsbury, 378 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 7475 0837 2
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Malle on Malle 
edited by Philip French.
Faber, 236 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 571 16237 1
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Republic of Images: A History of French Film-Making 
by Alan Williams.
Harvard, 458 pp., £39.95, April 1992, 0 674 76267 3
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... 1969: ‘It’s not that I consciously went back to my childhood; my childhood came back to me.’ Alan Williams’s Republic of Images will become a standard work on the French cinema, and deservedly so. It is thorough, and intelligent, and its generalisations have clearly been hesitated over, thought about. It’s called a history of ...

Moooovement

R.W. Johnson, 8 February 1990

Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism 
by Raymond Williams, edited by Robin Gable.
Verso, 334 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 86091 229 9
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The Alien Mind of Raymond Williams 
by Jan Gorak.
Missouri, 132 pp., $9.95, December 1988, 0 8262 0688 3
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Raymond WilliamsWriting, Culture, Politics 
by Alan O’Connor.
Blackwell, 180 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 631 16589 4
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Raymond Williams on Television: Selected Writings 
edited by Alan O’Connor.
Routledge, 223 pp., £7.95, April 1989, 9780415026277
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News from Nowhere: No 6. Raymond Williams: Third Generation 
edited by Tony Pinkney.
Oxford English Limited, 108 pp., £3.50, February 1989
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Raymond WilliamsCritical Perspectives 
edited by Terry Eagleton.
Polity, 235 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 9780745603841
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... Raymond Williams’s death in January 1988 has been followed by an avalanche of obituarial tribute. To some extent, the tributes were a matter of the Left giving a last, sad cheer for one of its most versatile and prolific heroes. Alan O’Connor’s bibliography of works by and about Williams covers an extraordinary 47 pages and includes 29 critical works, five novels, five short stories and five plays by Williams (which, together, have sold over a million copies in Britain alone), as well as perhaps a thousand articles ...

Crisis at Ettrick Bridge

William Rodgers, 12 October 1989

A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-88 
by Chris Cook.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £9.95, August 1989, 0 333 44884 7
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Against Goliath 
by David Steel.
Weidenfeld, 318 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 9780297796787
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Labour’s Decline and the Social Democrats’ Fall 
by Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 46541 5
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Penhaligon 
by Annette Penhaligon.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0501 2
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Citizens’ Britain: A Radical Agenda for the 1990s 
by Paddy Ashdown.
Fourth Estate, 159 pp., £5.95, September 1989, 1 872180 45 0
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... and then the grace to accept the outcome of a membership ballot. We were wrong. In their book, the Williams brothers discuss the character of David Owen, of whom they are warm admirers. Straying onto very dangerous ground, they refer to Owen as ‘certainly the cleverest and toughest politician out-of-power since the days of Sir Oswald Mosley’. Unable to ...

Hard Man

Ian Hamilton, 16 October 1980

Walk Don’t Walk The Camp From Scenes Like These 
by Gordon Williams.
Allison and Busby, 264 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 85031 309 0
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... Gordon Williams, formerly Gordon M. Williams: born 1934, educated at the John Neilson Institution in Paisley. Worked in Scotland as a farm labourer and newspaper reporter before undergoing National Service in Germany with the RAF. Has worked as a novelist for 16 years, based mainly in Soho but with a spell of rural isolation on the edge of Dartmoor ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams Made it Work, 19 December 2019

The Man who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’ and the Writing Life 
by Charles Shields.
Texas, 305 pp., £23.99, October 2018, 978 1 4773 1736 5
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Nothing but the Night 
by John Williams.
NYRB, 144 pp., $14.95, February 2019, 978 1 68137 307 2
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... the appearance of Thomas Pynchon’s first book and the Beatles’ second long-player, John Williams, a professor at the University of Denver, sent his agent in New York a draft of his latest novel, which detailed the unhappy marriage, undistinguished career and early death from cancer of an imagined professor at the University of Missouri a generation ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

Acrimony 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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Idols 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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Opia 
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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... footsteps of Tony Harrison’s Continuous, Craig Raine’s Rich, Paul Muldoon’s Quoof and Hugo Williams’s Letters Home, all of which voyage round the paterfamilias: that tradition is much more pious and affectionate. The Williams offers the closest comparison: it too is about an overbearing writer-father and adopts a ...

Imbalance

Michael Hofmann: The Charm of Hugo Williams, 22 May 2003

Collected Poems 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 288 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 571 21233 6
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... It is a curious thing that of the three judges offering superlatives on the jacket of Hugo Williams’s Collected Poems – Edna Longley, Douglas Dunn and Peter Porter – none is English. And yet Williams, born in Windsor during World War Two, the son of the English actor Hugh Williams, schooled by Life and Eton, a youthful toiler for Alan Ross’s London Magazine, an erstwhile globetrotter and a lifelong London resident, seems as English as they come ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... romantic socialism of Aneurin Bevan, and for the romantic sociology of Michael Young and Raymond Williams, as the views of these three have been characterised. One of the best sayings culled for the new volume is drawn from Bevan, and is as good as the ‘poetry’ heard by someone in his speeches. ‘Lazy? Lazy?’ Bevan responded to a sneer about the ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen Walsh: Constant Lambert, 22 January 2015

Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... greatest symphonist since Beethoven, had no interest in folksong (though he studied with Vaughan Williams and liked and respected him), adored jazz for its virtuosity and instrumental sound but had little patience with most of the so-called symphonic jazz of the 1920s. The key to this apparent ragbag of a pantheon is that Lambert had come to music from ...

Half-Timbering, Homosexuality and Whingeing

Ian Sansom: Julian Barnes, 1 October 1998

England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... schoolboy knows ...’: Macaulay out of Auden). The central plot device is borrowed (from Clough Williams-Ellis’s terrible vision in On Trust for the Nation). The central character is a composite caricature (part Robert Maxwell, part Mohamed al-Fayed). The story is as old as the hills (love, betrayal, the search for happiness). The plot structure is both ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... At Birmingham I have a session with David Edgar’s playwrights’ class, then do another ‘Our Alan’ performance for a more general audience. 26 January. Run into Tristram Powell. Andrew Devonshire (sic) has done a diary for the Spectator mentioning the memoir of Julian Jebb (edited by Tristram) as one of the books he was putting in the guest bedrooms at ...

Community

Raymond Williams, 24 January 1985

The Taliesin Tradition: A Quest for the Welsh Identity 
by Emyr Humphreys.
Black Raven, 245 pp., £10.95, April 1984, 0 85159 002 0
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Jones: A Novel 
by Emyr Humphreys.
Dent, 144 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 460 04660 8
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Wales! Wales? 
by Dai Smith.
Allen and Unwin, 173 pp., £9.95, March 1984, 0 04 942185 9
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The Matter of Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country 
by Jan Morris.
Oxford, 442 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 19 215846 5
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... o hyd.                                            Alan Llwyd This englyn, as so often, is dependent on particular Welsh assonances, but in at least some cases, and certainly in Dafydd ap Gwilym and the Mabinogi, the achievements are accessible in translation. Consider only this brief extract from the technique ...

Mortal on Hooch

William Fiennes: Alan Warner, 30 July 1998

The Sopranos 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 336 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05108 3
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... Morvern Callar, the narrator of Alan Warner’s Morvern Callar (1995) and These Demented Lands (1997), reacts to the suicide of her boyfriend by lighting a Silk Cut, opening her Christmas presents and shaving her legs in a hot bath. The boyfriend is lying in a pool of blood but Morvern remains emotionally numb: ‘Trying to get in the oven to heat up the pizza ...

Keep quiet about it

Alan Ryan: Henry Sidgwick’s Anxieties, 2 June 2005

Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe 
by Bart Schultz.
Cambridge, 858 pp., £40, June 2004, 0 521 82967 4
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... he asked his readers to consider matters ‘from the point of view of the universe’. Bernard Williams was only one of the recent critics who have argued that the universe has no point of view. In any case, the question is not what the universe thinks, but what we think, and even if the universe had a point of view, it is not obvious that we are under any ...

The Pain of History

Stephen Brook, 19 February 1981

The Star-Apple Kingdom 
by Derek Walcott.
Cape, 58 pp., £2.50, March 1980, 0 224 01780 2
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Selected Poems 1961-1978 
by David Holbrook.
Anvil, 143 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 85646 066 4
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Death Valley and Other Poems in America 
by Alan Ross.
London Magazine Editions, 92 pp., £3, June 1980, 0 904388 32 8
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Poems 1955-1980 
by Roy Fisher.
Oxford, 193 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 211935 4
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A.R.T.H.U.R. & M.A.R.T.H.A. 
by Laurence Lerner.
Secker, 69 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 436 24440 3
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... or on ‘My Father’s Gay Funeral’. Death Valley grew out of various journeys in America that Alan Ross made in the 1970s. The sense of travel is constant: Ross delights in place names, highway numbers, lists, descriptions. Too much so: the effect is often that of jottings in a notebook (to which he refers in a number of poems); in ‘West from ...

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