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Madd Men

Mark Kishlansky: Gerrard Winstanley, 17 February 2011

The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley 
by Thomas Corns, Ann Hughes and David Loewenstein.
Oxford, 1065 pp., £189, December 2009, 978 0 19 957606 7
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... the editors, David Loewenstein and Thomas Corns, both professors of English, and a historian, Ann Hughes, have brought to bear on them deep learning about textual and editorial matters. This is everything one could ask for in a scholarly edition. There may be room to question the inclusion of The True Levellers Standard Advanced or A Declaration from ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder, 17 April 1986

Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... novels I doubt if anyone would complain very much. Edmund White, Garrison Keillor and Bobbie Ann Mason belong to the generation of American writers born during the Second World War. White’s Caracole is set in an imaginary country, part European and part Third World, in the midst of a pre-industrial Belle Epoque. The characters are decaying ...

I blame Foucault

Jenny Diski: Bush’s Women, 22 September 2005

Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species 
by Laura Flanders.
Verso, 342 pp., £10, July 2005, 1 84467 530 0
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... W. stands for women,’ cried Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Elaine Chao and Gale Ann Norton at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and in case the Good Ol’ Boy’s good old ladies didn’t get it, a banner explained: ‘The country and my administration have benefited from the strong women who serve as senior members of my White House team ...

Damn all

Scott Malcomson, 23 September 1993

Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America 
by Robert Hughes.
Oxford, 224 pp., £12.95, June 1993, 0 19 507676 1
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... or I find I lose ground ‘I am nothing, if not critical.’ The predicament is one which Robert Hughes shares with Hazlitt, of whom Keats gamely wrote: ‘if ever I am damn’d – damn me if I shouldn’t like him to damn me.’ In Culture of Complaint (a bestseller in the US), Hughes damns damn near everybody. He ...

No wonder it ached

Dinah Birch: George Eliot, 13 May 1999

The Journals of George Eliot 
edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston.
Cambridge, 447 pp., £55, February 1999, 0 521 57412 9
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George Eliot: The Last Victorian 
by Kathryn Hughes.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 85702 420 6
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... But Mary Anne sounds rather like a servant’s name (the White Rabbit’s housemaid is called Mary Ann). As the rising fortunes of the family gave her a lady’s education, she began to experiment and adapt – trying out Marianne, losing the final ‘e’, and later settling on Marian. Throughout her life, she accumulated ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... 1962, after she’d torn the phoneline out of the wall during an argument with her husband, Ted Hughes, and he had left her and their two infant children in Devon, there were only letters. ‘I am fine,’ she wrote to her mother in America. ‘Just need a settled nanny & to rest & write & letters. I love & live for letters.’ Sylvia Plath and Frieda ...

Picassomania

Mary Ann Caws: Roland Penrose’s notebooks, 19 October 2006

Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose 
by Elizabeth Cowling.
Thames and Hudson, 408 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 500 51293 0
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... Picasso was a force of nature, whose unique vitality was just as evident in his late work. Robert Hughes was scathing in Time magazine: The last Picassos are also the worst. It seems hardly imaginable that so great a painter could have whipped off, even in old age, such hasty and superficial doodles. One enters in homage and leaves in embarrassment ...

Jihad

James Wood, 5 August 1993

TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... far from the political decline of England.’ Later, in a sudden frenzy, they claim that ‘Carol Ann Duffy’s work is written out of a conviction that poetry must get its hands dirty if it is to take on the enemy and help preserve a liberal society and humanist culture.’ Of course, they don’t intend to sound grudging about politics – on the ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... drama that is to be found in Fighting Terms. Gunn’s first Selected, a volume shared with Ted Hughes, came out in 1962, when he had published only three books of poetry. It was to sell more than eighty thousand copies. The original idea was also to include Philip Larkin, a poet both Gunn and Hughes admired – in a ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... been one of my strongest, most lasting influences.’ Readers might wonder where the poetry of Hughes, Heaney or Hill would be without some filtering of the tradition of Old English accentual poetry through Auden or Hopkins. Hopkins’s use of Old English is well-known (‘a vastly superior thing to what we have now’), but perhaps not the fact that ...

In Farageland

James Meek, 9 October 2014

... the rent and service charge to Bilfinger Berger’s diffuse cloud of global investors. This year Ann Gloag, the Perthshire castle-dwelling Scottish demi-billionaire, bought Thanet’s airport at Manston for £1, then closed it down; 144 people lost their jobs. Hornby, the model-train maker, which has been in Margate for sixty years, moved its distribution ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... such as Gillian Allnutt’s ‘Alien’, Eavan Boland’s ‘The Oral Tradition’, Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Telephoning home’ and ‘Foreign’, Selima Hill’s ‘Crossing the Desert in a Pram’, Maria Jastrzebska’s ‘Bi-lingual’, and Evangeline Paterson’s ‘Dispossessed’. There is some very interesting work here, and the star poem has to ...

Sex’n’Love

Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

The Chatto Book of Love Poetry 
edited by John Fuller.
Chatto, 374 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3453 4
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The Faber Book of Blue Verse 
edited by John Whitworth.
Faber, 305 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14095 5
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Self-Portrait with a Slide 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 62 pp., £5.95, June 1990, 0 19 282744 8
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The Virago Book of Love Poetry 
edited by Wendy Mulford.
Virago, 288 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 1 85381 030 4
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Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing 
edited by Margaret Reynolds, foreword by Jeanette Winterson .
Pandora, 362 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 9780044406723
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Daddy, Daddy 
by Paul Durcan.
Blackstaff, 185 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 85640 446 2
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... your feelings. There is no room in this tradition for a poem about sexual compulsion such as Ted Hughes’s ‘A Childish Prank’. Instead of Hughes, we get (three times) Kingsley Amis’s nonplussed Evans, who straight after his father’s funeral arranges to meet his mistress in the pub: You’ll know me easy, because ...

Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels, 31 October 2002

Fingersmith 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... his (appropriately massive) novel. Some think it time well spent. Faber’s American publisher, Ann Patty, prefaces her edition of The Crimson Petal and the White with the declaration: ‘Dear Reader, You hold in your hands the first great 19th-century novel of the 21st century. In my 25 years this may be the most magnificent, courageous novel I have ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... masses of publicity, these books tend to languish on the shelves. The commercial flop of Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s Baby Hunger (published in the US as Creating a Life) was noted on the front page of the New York Times. But why the surprise? Only women buy this kind of book about women, and women know perfectly well that it’s hard to find love, that offices ...

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