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Digging up the Ancestors

R.W. Johnson, 14 November 1996

Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... paragraph to go, to deny the evident rationale of his book. And Brivati needs a rationale: Philip Williams’s monumental biography of Gaitskell is unlikely to be equalled, let alone surpassed. Not only was Williams the greatest political analyst of his time but he had access to the voluminous private papers which, since ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans, 3 June 2004

The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... You had your 1917 in 1066,’ a Russian diplomat was once said to have told his British counterpart. The ruling class of England, and much of the rest of Britain, was re-created by the Norman Conquest. Most of the nobly born have at one time or another sought to find progenitors among the Companions of the Conqueror, and the words ‘noble’, ‘gentle’ and ‘aristocrat’ themselves come from French ...

What Life Says to Us

Stephanie Burt: Robert Creeley, 21 February 2008

The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1945-75 
California, 681 pp., £12.55, October 2006, 0 520 24158 4Show More
The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1975-2005 
California, 662 pp., £29.95, October 2006, 0 520 24159 2Show More
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay 
by Robert Creeley.
California, 89 pp., £12.95, April 2006, 0 520 24791 4
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Selected Poems: 1945-2005 
by Robert Creeley, edited by Benjamin Friedlander.
California, 339 pp., $21.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25196 0
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... one abortive dust-up with Jackson Pollock. Partly to escape urban temptation, Creeley, his wife, Ann, and their two young sons relocated in 1948 to a farm in New Hampshire, where he bred pigeons and poultry and tried to write. ‘I learned more about poetry as an actual activity from raising chickens,’ he said, ‘than I did from any professor.’ The ...

Persons outside the Law

Catherine Hall: The Atlantic Family, 19 July 2018

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 
by Daniel Livesay.
North Carolina, 448 pp., £45, January 2018, 978 1 4696 3443 2
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... charity. She was determined they must not carry the family name and consequently they became the Williams sisters. Illegitimacy was an infringement of the social and racial order, indeed an attack on it. It raised the question of who was entitled to belong and in what ways. When Allan, aged six, arrived in Scotland, he became Allan ...

Her Body or the Sea

Ian Patterson: Ann Quin, 21 June 2018

The Unmapped Country: Stories and Fragments 
by Ann Quin.
And Other Stories, 192 pp., £10, January 2018, 978 1 911508 14 4
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... There​ is something generational about the recent revival of interest in the novelist Ann Quin. After scarcely even maintaining a cult reputation among writers in the years since her death, she’s reappeared like a revenant who’d been lurking in dark corners, and now everybody’s writing about her. Since the rediscovery of B ...

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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... that love and writing have little to do with each other, one is inclined to believe him. Hugo Williams, who has a good poem about the sticky relationship between making love and making verse (LRB, 8 December 1988), is one of the few contemporary English poets who makes a good showing in both the Whitworth and the Fuller. That particular poem appears in ...

Anti-Anti-Racism

Ann Dummett, 9 July 1987

Anti-Racism: An Assault on Education and Value 
edited by Frank Palmer.
Sherwood, 210 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 907671 26 8
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The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain 
by Ron Ramdin.
Gower, 626 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 566 00943 9
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... they may all be opposed to racism, but they have different ideas about how to overcome it. Joe Williams, a black councillor in Reading who has been a forthright campaigner for racial equality for many years, recently opposed a council proposal to spend money on racism-awareness training. There was some bewilderment among white councillors. How could a ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... Ann Douglas’s The Feminisation of American Culture, first published in 1977, now appears in Britain at the same moment as its long-delayed successor, Terrible Honesty. Looking back at the earlier book, Douglas remarks that her ‘excavation and re-evaluation of American feminine 19th-century literature’ has been continued by many other historians, mostly women, who have rebelled against what she calls, in tones more civil than those of some of her successors, a literary canon consisting ‘of almost exclusively male-authored, conspicuously shaped and achieved works ...

Just one more species doing its best

Richard Rorty, 25 July 1991

The Later Works 1925-1953. Vol. XVII: Miscellaneous Writings, 1885-1953 
by John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann Boydston.
Southern Illinois, 786 pp., $50, August 1990, 0 8093 1661 7
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Dewey 
by J.E. Tiles.
Routledge, 256 pp., £35, December 1988, 0 415 00908 1
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John Dewey and American Democracy 
by Robert Westbrook.
Cornell, 608 pp., $32.95, May 1991, 0 8014 2560 3
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Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank and Lewis Mumford 
by Casey Blake.
North Carolina, 370 pp., $38.45, November 1990, 0 8078 1935 2
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... volumes of the magnificent new edition of his published works – an edition which it has taken Jo Ann Boydston and her collaborators 25 years to produce. The final volume contains a miscellany of pieces which were omitted from earlier volumes. The earliest (written in the mid-1880s) include ‘The Health of Women and Higher Education’ (women can get ...

Mexxed Missages

Elaine Showalter: A road trip through Middle America, 4 November 2004

... and huge parking lots. In Branson you can find the Osmond Brothers, the Lennon Sisters, Andy Williams and Ann-Margret, and many country and western stars of yore. The disgraced evangelical preacher Jim Bakker has set up shop too, and broadcasts a TV show featuring other local preachers and gospel singers. Branson ...

Constable’s Plenty

John Barrell, 15 August 1991

Constable 
by Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams.
Tate Gallery, 544 pp., £45, June 1991, 1 85437 071 5
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Romatic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition 
by Jonathan Bate.
Routledge, 131 pp., £8.99, May 1991, 0 415 06116 4
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... of the work of a British artist. It is also one of the dullest. Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams have resisted the tendency of the last fifteen years or so by which the catalogues of major exhibitions have often been presented as major interpretative studies of the artist and his times. Constable is a catalogue, nothing more. It maximises our ...

Boundary Books

Margaret Meek, 21 February 1980

Kate Crackernuts 
by Katharine Briggs.
Kestrel, 224 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 7226 5557 6
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Socialisation through Children’s Literature: The Soviet Example 
by Felicity Ann O’Dell.
Cambridge, 278 pp., £14, January 1979, 9780521219686
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Divide and Rule 
by Jan Mark.
Kestrel, 248 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 7226 5620 3
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... Briggs investigates folklore in Shakespeare as a musicologist would examine folk-song in Vaughan Williams. She is not concerned to tell children stories, but in Abbey Lubbers, Banshees and Boggarts she sets us on our way towards the more exacting erudition of Propp’s morphology of the folk tale and the work of Aarne and Thompson. She is neither populariser ...

Memphis Blues

Karl Miller, 5 September 1985

The Old Forest 
by Peter Taylor.
Chatto, 358 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 7011 3967 6
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... The maidenliness of some of the narrators lets us know that this is not the South of Tennessee Williams. But it neither contradicts nor is contradicted by the works of Williams, who has his own sweet bird of youth, and his Aunt Grace. A story which might seem to promise an account of sexual conduct is the one that gives ...

Bunny Hell

Christopher Tayler: David Gates, 26 August 2015

A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me 
by David Gates.
Serpent’s Tail, 314 pp., £12.99, August 2015, 978 1 78125 491 2
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Jernigan 
by David Gates.
Serpent’s Tail, 339 pp., £8.99, August 2015, 978 1 78125 490 5
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... came out and had last been in proximity to book-world fame in the 1970s, when his then wife, Ann Beattie, was routinely described as the voice of their generation on the strength of the stories she was publishing in the New Yorker. (It was Gates who suggested calling her first novel, published in 1976, Chilly Scenes of Winter, a title borrowed – like ...

Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... in 1771. Among his contemporaries, only Frances Burney was at the height of her powers. Neither Ann Radcliffe, whose Gothic romances would soon enjoy immense popularity, nor the younger radical novelists such as Godwin, Wollstonecraft and Holcroft – with whom Bage is most commonly linked – had yet begun to publish. In these circumstances, Bage’s ...

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