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Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift

7 October 2010
The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... on the difference. What if Clift had died then? For many, he did, the later films better ignored, seen as staining the magical purity of those early performances. In The Passion of Montgomery Clift, AmyLawrence idiosyncratically prefers those neglected post-accident films, resistant to their mood of dejection, but alive to Clift’s quieter genius. It’s a preference that fits her method. We all ...

Westward Ho

Frank Kermode

7 February 1985
The Letters of D.H. Lawrence. Vol. III: October 1916 - June 1921 
edited by James Boulton and Andrew Robertson.
Cambridge, 762 pp., £25, November 1984, 0 521 23112 4
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Brett: From Bloomsbury to New Mexico 
by Sean Hignett.
Hodder, 299 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 9780340229736
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... This, the third of seven volumes in the Cambridge collection, contains 942 letters written by Lawrence in something under five years. Harry T. Moore’s Collected Letters of 1962 did the whole job in less than twice as many pages, though it’s true he didn’t print quite everything; and many more ...

Bert’s Needs

Patricia Beer

25 March 1993
Lawrence’s Women: The Intimate Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Elaine Feinstein.
HarperCollins, 275 pp., £18, January 1993, 0 00 215364 5
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... The modish title of Elaine Feinstein’s excellent book need not make readers fear that they are being lured to yet another study of the great man himself. Lawrence’s Women really is about the women in his life. They are not just lining the route. Neither should readers suspect that the word ‘intimate’ in the subtitle means that they are going to be told ...

Hug me, kiss me

Penelope Fitzgerald

6 October 1994
Such Devoted Sisters: An Anthology of Stories 
edited by Shena Mackay.
Virago, 330 pp., £6.99, August 1994, 1 85381 755 4
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When the World Was Steady 
by Claire Messud.
Granta, 270 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 14 014099 9
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... this anthology, which could have been presented in quite a different way. Edna O’Brien’s small-town girl was fascinated, as a child, by the two grotesque Miss Connors, Miss Lucy and drunken Miss Amy. When she comes home on an awkward visit from England with her short-tempered husband, he makes their little boy return Miss Amy’s gift of sweeties from her coat-pocket. He has no way of knowing ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism

25 March 2010
The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... Woolf’s famous aperçu, ‘On or about December 1910, human character changed.’ But by the time we get to Vorticism, with which Pound was hoping to render Imagism – now led by his arch-enemy Amy Lowell – passé, a question irresistibly presents itself. When a poet has made it his life’s work to change a period’s style, and pursues his aim by means of confrontation and relentless ...


Peter Howarth: Robert Frost’s Prose

6 November 2008
The Collected Prose of Robert Frost 
edited by Mark Richardson.
Harvard, 375 pp., £25.95, January 2008, 978 0 674 02463 2
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The Notebooks of Robert Frost 
edited by Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 809 pp., £25.95, January 2007, 978 0 674 02311 6
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... The first and last pieces in this new Collected Prose have never been reprinted before, but they have a misleadingly familiar ring. In 1891, Frost got himself elected to the editorship of the Lawrence, Massachusetts High School Bulletin, and his opening salute to his classmates insists that ‘this chair, when not acting as a weapon of defence, will be devoted to the caprices of its occupant.’ A ...
7 May 1981
... the characters’ names. Mr Prince was a minor favourite, Mary Lamb the major one (no one I think mentioned the real Mary Lamb, though the Listener review was headed ‘Lamb’s tale from Amis’). Amy Hide, her alter ego, was quickly linked to Jekyll and Hyde. Auberon Waugh kept calling her Hyde, though the novel stuck pointedly to Hide. Paul Ableman, as you might expect, used both spellings. I ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison

6 September 1984
Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy​ Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... and Bell Telephone Laboratory Time Vault, is a plea for punctuality and punctiliousness:     The lemur-student can see       that an aye-aye is not an angwan-tibo, potto or loris. Amy Clampitt can probably tell an aye-aye from an angwan-tibo and might well have chosen those lines as an epigraph for The Kingfisher. Hers is a poetry of minute discriminations. Unlike those ...

Lithe Pale Girls

Robert Crawford: Richard Aldington

22 January 2015
Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier and Lover 1911-29 
by Vivien Whelpton.
Lutterworth, 414 pp., £30, January 2015, 978 0 7188 9318 7
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... as war began and their child was stillborn in May 1915: ‘The nurse said it was a beautiful child & they can’t think why it didn’t live,’ Aldington wrote to the Imagist poet and anthologist Amy Lowell hours after the birth. ‘It was very strong but wouldn’t breathe.’ A year later he began an affair with Florence Fallas, another young mother who had lost a child. Writing of ‘forbidden ...

He wants me no more

Tessa Hadley: Pamela Hansford Johnson

21 January 2016
Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times 
by Wendy Pollard.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 500 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 0 85683 298 7
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... marvellously! Raging success’ and had ‘awfully good notices’ in the local paper. She was born in 1912 and grew up the adored only child in a fractious household of women, with her mother, Amy, her aunt and grandmother. Her father, ‘R.K.’ Johnson, was a minor colonial administrator, chief storekeeper on the Baro-Kano railway (you couldn’t make this up). He was usually in Nigeria ...


Gary Indiana: Nymphomania, antic incest and metaphysical torment

14 December 2006
Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker 
edited by Amy​ Scholder, Carla Harryman and Avital Ronell.
Verso, 120 pp., £10.99, May 2006, 9781844670666
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... mediating between the reader and the text … Writing sex as Kathy does also works to bring the reader back to her body in a way no other literary strategy quite does. The voices of Ronell and Lawrence Rickels are the driest in Lust for Life: Ronell’s because she articulates her grief over a friend’s loss in etiolated academic language interspersed with lachrymose, though sincere, intertitles ...

White Hat/Black Hat

Frances Richard: 20th-Century Art

6 April 2006
Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism 
by Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh.
Thames and Hudson, 704 pp., £45, March 2005, 0 500 23818 9
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... when James Van Der Zee began taking photographs of middle-class and ‘high society’ Harlem residents, and Aaron Douglas was making prints and paintings. Not only that, but Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, two of the most distinguished African American painters, lived until 1988 and 2000 respectively; landmark retrospectives were held for Bearden at MoMA in 1971, and Lawrence at the Whitney in 1974 ...
7 November 2019
... might, and the results are as mixed as the methods: the connections range from the inspired to the whimsical. An instance of self-aware pseudomorphism is a gallery curated by the American painter Amy Sillman; titled ‘The Shape of Shape’, it is a mélange of 71 works, some old, some new, by 71 artists, some familiar, some not, that feature mostly abstract forms suggestive of body parts. An ...

The Only Alphabet

August Kleinzahler: Ashbery’s Early Life

20 September 2017
The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life 
by Karin Roffman.
Farrar, Straus, 316 pp., £25.50, June 2017, 978 0 374 29384 0
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... and how easily their achievements might never have happened. Ashbery’s parents were unremarkable, if you leave aside his father’s unpredictable, foul temper. But his maternal grandfather, Henry Lawrence, was indeed a remarkable man, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester, who had written his PhD on the new field of X-ray technology. He was also fluent in Greek and Latin and a good ...

Shuffling off

John Sutherland

18 April 1985
Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction 
by Garrett Stewart.
Harvard, 403 pp., £19.80, December 1984, 0 674 19428 4
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Forms of Feeling in Victorian Fiction 
by Barbara Hardy.
Owen, 215 pp., £12.50, January 1985, 9780720606119
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Language and Class in Victorian England 
by K.C. Phillipps.
Basil Blackwell in association with Deutsch, 190 pp., £19.50, November 1984, 0 631 13689 4
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... is in multiple ways founded on death, or figured by its extremity.’ Moving forward, the book covers the later Victorian rhetoric of death scenery, through Modernist modulations in Conrad, Forster, Lawrence (a romantic throwback) and Woolf, to a conclusion in the Post-Modernist and supra-national fictions of Beckett, Pynchon and Nabokov. The strongest element in Death Sentences, as in Stewart’s ...

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