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Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... Pound (‘the pathos of the loony, traitorous, filthslinging poet in his cage at Pisa or in his ward in the Washington asylum’), to ‘restricted and jejune Eliot’ – Over the Missouri, over the Seine,   Over the Thames, and over the Severn, The soul of white Tom   Shall float to Heaven – to Hardy’s ‘rather monotonously small follower ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... her mother, and with her ruddy cheeks and her unpredictability she ended up in the psychiatric ward at UCLA. Jane wasn’t a star, but her craziness activated a fear in many of those who knew her, a fear of being suffocated by a stronger, commanding parent. The artist Ed Moses was hired to take her on outings. ‘My mother’s life never ...

Blights

Patricia Craig, 23 April 1987

A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... of his few female characters is a prostitute – driven to it, we’re to gather, by the need to ward off hardship from her ‘terrified mother’, whose husband has been carted off to Long Kesh. Isn’t Power aware of the funds set aside for prisoners’ dependents? The business of being precipitated into prostitution, or terrorism: it is all very ...

No Longer Merely the Man Who Ate His Boots

Thomas Jones: The Northwest Passage, 27 May 2010

Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage 
by Glyn Williams.
Allen Lane, 440 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 84614 138 6
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Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation 
by Andrew Lambert.
Faber, 428 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 571 23160 7
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... to keep his men healthy and occupied: there was regular exercise, lemon juice and sauerkraut to ward off scurvy (not entirely successfully), music and dancing, reading and writing lessons, a weekly newspaper and fortnightly plays put on by the officers to entertain the men. The officers also kept themselves busy making scientific observations. All in ...

Not all that Keen

John Bayley, 16 March 1989

Chekhov: A Spirit Set Free 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Hodder, 235 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 340 37409 8
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... Cherry Orchard, and who evades all attempts to trap him into marriage with Madame Ranevskaya’s ward. Chekhov, as Pritchett says, ‘admired this self-made man’, and sharply warned Stanislavsky that he must not be played as the traditional grasping vulgarian of a stock stage part. Pritchett intuits that Chekhov himself had ‘an unusually ...

Howard’s End

John Sutherland, 18 September 1986

Redback 
by Howard Jacobson.
Bantam, 314 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 593 01212 7
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Coming from behind 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 250 pp., £2.95, April 1984, 0 552 99063 9
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Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 351 pp., £2.95, October 1985, 0 552 99141 4
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... are three weeks’ massive priapism. The spiritual effect is longer-lasting. Lying in the sting ward of Wangaratta hospital, his testicles swollen to the size of melons, he now has the balls to tell a visiting princess of the blood royal exactly what satyriasis syndrome is (‘having a hard-on as long as a polo stick’). It is, for Leon, a momentous ...

Social Arrangements

John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... Penguin of 1962, The New Poetry, selected and introduced by A. Alvarez. Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion are well aware that there is something comically factitious about the stance that has to be adopted by each new spokesman on the poetry scene – ‘we are not,’ they say, ‘the first anthologists this century to have made such a claim.’ Indeed ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... of the 20th century. They may be right. Norma Jeane Mortensen was born in June 1926 in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital. Her mother Gladys Baker was now and again mad, leaving her daughter troubled but free to dream up an alternative life, and to develop her vital allure reading movie magazines. Norma Jeane had a keen sense of how to conquer ...

Beast of a Nation

Andrew O’Hagan: Scotland’s Self-Pity, 31 October 2002

Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland 
by Neal Ascherson.
Granta, 305 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 1 86207 524 7
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... historian and poet, an old friend of the Aschersons, was lying in a bed nearby. ‘Later in the ward,’ Ascherson writes, I was talking to my mother about the Ballymeanoch stones, and the one that fell, and saying that nobody seemed sure when it had fallen. A muffled voice came from behind me. ‘Well, I know!’ said Marion, suddenly awake. ‘It was in ...

Brief Encounters

Andrew O’Hagan: Gielgud and Redgrave, 5 August 2004

Gielgud's Letters 
edited by Richard Mangan.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 297 82989 0
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Secret Dreams: A Biography of Michael Redgrave 
by Alan Strachan.
Weidenfeld, 484 pp., £25, April 2004, 0 297 60764 2
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... of his days, ill in his hospital bed with the curtains drawn, Redgrave assumed the noise in the ward was, as Strachan writes, ‘the buzz of an anticipatory audience’. At one point his daughter Vanessa told her father it was not really a theatre at all but a hospital. Reality had its position by the bed but reality is never alone. A while passed and ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... the mere thought of liberated sex: Thursday, 26 September 1963: The Denning Report on the Profumo-Ward case is out. Apparently it says that well-known actors were at these filthy parties. It is a disgrace that such people should bring our profession into disrepute in this vile way. Thank the powers that my own private fantasies have been left to wrestle with ...

Russell and Ramsey

Ray Monk, 29 August 1991

Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship 
by Nicholas Griffin.
Oxford, 409 pp., £45, January 1991, 0 19 824453 3
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Philosophical Papers 
by F.P. Ramsey, edited by D.H. Mellor.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 521 37480 4
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The Philosophy of F.P. Ramsey 
by Nils-Eric Sahlin.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, November 1990, 0 521 38543 1
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... of its editorial team. Two years ago we had Bertrand Russell: The Psychobiography of a Moralist by Andrew Brink, a lecturer in English at McMaster who helped to edit Volumes I and XII of the Collected Papers. This presented a Freudian analysis of the personal papers published in those volumes. Nicholas Griffin’s Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship has ...

Vienna discovers its past

Peter Pulzer, 1 August 1985

Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and their Experiences 
by Lewis Coser.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, October 1984, 0 300 03193 9
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The Viennese Enlightenment 
by Mark Francis.
Croom Helm, 176 pp., £15.95, May 1985, 0 7099 1065 7
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The Jews of Vienna, 1867-1914: Assimilation and Identity 
by Marsha Rozenblit.
SUNY, 368 pp., $39.50, July 1984, 0 87395 844 6
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... as the names of William Johnston, William McGrath, Carl Schorske, Allan Janik, Stephen Toulmin, Andrew Whiteside and John Boyer testify.* There are a number of plausible reasons for this. The first and most obvious is the great diaspora of Central European scholars brought about by the rise of Nazism in the 1930s – though some intellectuals, like ...

Nohow, Worstward, Withersoever

Patrick Parrinder, 9 November 1989

Stirrings Still 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 25 pp., £1,000, March 1989, 0 7145 4142 7
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Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 128 pp., £10.95, February 1989, 0 7145 4111 7
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‘Make sense who may’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works 
edited by Robin Davis and Lance Butler.
Smythe, 175 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 86140 286 3
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... poems. The language here is less difficult and disrupted than in such pieces as Ping and Worst-ward Ho, where normal syntax and logical sequence are more or less dispensed with. In the new work a solitary figure who has sat hunched at a table, head on hands, for a long time sees himself stirring, one night, and going out of the room. The ‘outer ...

Homage to the Provinces

Michael Wood, 28 May 1992

Barcelona 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 575 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 00 272078 7
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Barcelonas 
by Manuel Vazquez Montalban, translated by Andrew Robinson.
Verso, 210 pp., £17.95, May 1992, 0 86091 353 8
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Cities of Spain 
by David Gilmour.
Murray, 214 pp., £17.95, March 1992, 0 7195 4833 0
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Red City, Blue Period: Social Movements in Picasso’s Barcelona 
by Temma Kaplan.
California, 266 pp., $30, April 1992, 0 520 07507 2
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... and a man of great personal austerity. He was run over by a tram in 1926, and put in a public ward at the hospital because no one knew who he was. His architecture – the Palau Güell, the Parque Güell, the Casa Mila, the ill-fated and still unfinished Sagrada Familia – was, in Hughes’s terms, ‘the delayed baroque that Barcelona never ...

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