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The End of British Farming

Andrew O’Hagan: British farming, 22 March 2001

... in something of a swoon at the heavenliness on offer. ‘People want to be interested,’ said Alison Austin, a technical adviser, ‘you’ve just got to capture their imagination.’ We were standing by the sandwiches and the takeaway hot foods lined up in front of the whooshing doors. Alison swept her hand over the ...

Getting on

Humphrey Carpenter, 18 July 1985

In the Dark 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 230 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780224022927
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A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 153 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 241 11532 9
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Midnight Mass 
by Peter Bowles.
Peter Owen, 190 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 7206 0647 0
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The Silver Age 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 186 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02316 0
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The House of Kanze 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7126 0850 8
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... is set in the form of Raymond’s rather plodding confessional letter to his real love. She is Alison, an ambassador’s wife, a county girl from Somerset whose own horizon was more modest than Raymond’s, but who, as she seeks to disentangle herself from marriage to her stuffy diplomat, proves the more ambitious dreamer. The whole thing doesn’t quite ...

Bad John

Alan Bennett: John Osborne, 3 December 1981

A Better Class of Person 
by John Osborne.
Faber, 285 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 571 11785 6
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... am not I; thou art not he or she; they are not they.’ His first wife, Pamela Lane, becomes Alison at her ironing-board and her hapless parents leap onto the stage with her. She is she. They are they. And he himself makes no bones about coming on as Jimmy Porter, in 1956 anyway. Newspapers won’t believe he’s come on as anything else since. Much of ...

Toolkit for Tinkerers

Colin Burrow: The Sonnet, 24 June 2010

The Art of the Sonnet 
by Stephanie Burt and David Mikics.
Harvard, 451 pp., £25.95, May 2010, 978 0 674 04814 0
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... quatrain, or break up the quatrains into couplets in quizzical dialogue with each other – as Alison Brackenbury does in her mischievous sonnet of 2004 called ‘Homework. Write a Sonnet. About Love?’ When poets have written about the sonnet they have tended to represent it as a small orderly space. Samuel Daniel is often quoted as having said: ‘is it ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan, 16 February 1984

The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... remarkable for its intelligence and verve – one thinks of Angela Carter on writing fiction, Alison Hennegan on lesbian journalism, Fay Weldon interviewing herself – Ms Roberts’s piece stands out, and stands central. Honest, unflustered and incisive, it offers a feeling but unsentimental account of a feminist poet’s predicament, and the grounds of ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... with Garland, who resigned with her but returned in 1932, or her illegitimate daughter, Helen. Alison Settle was brought in from the women’s pages of the Observer to help shift things down-brow: less poetry, more movie stars, and – fashion was shifting too – less couture and more ready-to-wear. The copyists – the wholesale manufacturers – had ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip Roth: The Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip Roth: A Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... had her: how the phrase just rolls off the wrist. Memories of Ava weren’t enough to warm Roth on winter nights, as the string of candidates for the role of Jane Eyre dwindled to one. ‘Twelve years ago,’ Taylor writes,I saw him through his last love, for a young person less than half his age whose family strongly disapproved of the association and who ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... the trees below were green; people came and went from the new leisure centre.At 4 p.m. that day, Alison Moses got home to her flat on the fourth floor, flat number 11. She’d gone to the bank to get money out for her daughter and then the two of them had gone to pick up Alison’s grandson from school. ...

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