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Updating Freud

Mary Midgley

16 September 1982
Narcissus and Oedipus: The Children of Psychoanalysis 
by Victoria Hamilton.
Routledge, 284 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 7100 0869 4
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Archetype: A Natural History of the Self 
by Anthony Stevens.
Routledge, 295 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 7100 0980 1
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Freud on Femininity and Faith 
by Judith van Herik.
California, 216 pp., £17.50, June 1982, 0 520 04368 5
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... dominance, stupidity, which were then made inevitable. Anyone prepared to notice a rather wider model naturally looked at the Freudian one, which still usually struck him as too narrow. It is so. As AnthonyStevens puts it, ‘the fundamentally reductive approach which characterised the Freudian attitude to the phenomena of life – what Jung lampooned as the “nothing but” approach ... helped to ...

In Service

Anthony​ Thwaite

18 May 1989
The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... of the private life. And then the sestet chillingly spells out what the results of all this are likely to be, as The armies waited for a verbal error With all the instruments for causing pain. Stevens, the elderly butler in Kazuo Ishiguro’s third novel, The Remains of the Day, would never be so vulgar as to price anyone’s shoes, but much of his earlier life was discreetly spent in the presence ...

The Devilish God

David Wheatley: T.S. Eliot

1 November 2001
Words Alone: The Poet T.S. Eliot 
by Denis Donoghue.
Yale, 326 pp., £17.95, January 2001, 0 300 08329 7
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Adam’s Curse: Reflections on Religion and Literature 
by Denis Donoghue.
Notre Dame, 178 pp., £21.50, May 2001, 0 268 02009 4
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... somehow more forgivable, to the huddled ranks of Poundians at least. Critics unimpressed by the psychodrama of Eliot’s Christianity, such as Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler, much prefer Yeats and Stevens. And as a glance at any anthology of 20th-century British poetry will show, the prewar voices most audible today belong to Auden and MacNeice. From the maudlin Tom and Viv to Peter Ackroyd’s ...


Denis Donoghue

21 June 1984
Selected Essays 
by John Bayley.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 521 25828 6
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Collected Poems: 1941-1983 
by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 9780856354977
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Poems: 1953-1983 
by Anthony​ Thwaite.
Secker, 201 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 52151 2
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... One of Anthony Thwaite’s poems, ‘Tell it slant’, swerves from Emily Dickinson’s line ‘Tell all the Truth but tell it slant’ to settle upon an aesthetic procedure she would have been too nervous to ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony​ Howard

25 January 1996
Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... third Viscount Rothermere – and no proud proprietor likes to see too much praise being given to a predecessor. Nevertheless, to speak of the present Lord Rothermere – or, worse, of Sir Jocelyn Stevens or the late Lord (‘Whelks’) Matthews – in the same tone of voice as Beaverbrook is a substantial affront to natural justice. Fortunately, Griffiths is more generous to the other main agent in ...

Belfryful of Bells

Theo Tait: John Banville

19 November 2015
The Blue Guitar 
by John Banville.
Viking, 250 pp., £14.99, September 2015, 978 0 241 00432 6
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... I failed.’ The mid to late Banville template has given us some very good novels as well as some less impressive ones. The original, and surely the best, is The Untouchable (1997): his reworking of Anthony Blunt’s life, by way of Louis MacNeice, which stands out among the vast literature inspired by the Cambridge spies. Ten years ago he published The Sea, a sometimes mesmerising novel that won the ...

Inside Out

John Bayley

4 September 1980
The Collected Ewart 1933-1980 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 412 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 09 141000 2
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Selected Poems and Prose 
by Michael Roberts, edited by Frederick Grubb.
Carcanet, 205 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 85635 263 2
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... Ewart knows just how wrong. ‘It’s hard to dislike Ewart’ was the comment of a reviewer in the New Review, and the poem shows, with the kind of grim undemonstrative intelligence the novels of Anthony Powell know well how to reveal in horsey men, military men or men in bars (one of his characters called Odo Stevens writes Ewart-type poems), just how much Ewart as a poet owes to his attitude to ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis

25 November 2019
... The most interesting book of first poems in many years’, Richard Howard proclaimed in 1981. James Merrill, John Hollander and John Ashbery spoke in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for many,’ David Kalstone wrote, ‘in saying it appeared with that ...
4 August 1988
... Meulen. It was rather good. There was only one issue: it was rather squat – a small, thick, yellow thing, with a ghastly woodcut on it. Nobody knew how this woodcut got on it. There was a piece by Anthony Powell called ‘A Reference for Mellors’, which was about somebody coming to Lady Chatterley for a reference for a gamekeeper. The magazine sort of launched me on a career, because Alan Pryce ...


Mark Ford: Donald Justice

16 November 2006
Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... he devoted his life to the perfection of a small body of deceptively modest poems. His work exhibits little of the ostentatious virtuosity of better-known formalists such as Richard Wilbur and Anthony Hecht, with whom he is so often, and rather unfortunately, grouped. Rather, Justice’s poems delicately induce the hypnotic state that Bishop described as her artistic ideal in a letter to Anne ...


Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington

16 April 1998
... different novel of 1988, the sequel to Take a Girl like You). One also has to come to the Huntington to read the letters (or many of them) that Amis received: several hundred from Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, John Betjeman, Philip Larkin and others. These letters help supply the answers to niggling editorial puzzles: for example, the identity of ‘Bluebell’ (Conquest’s dog), or ‘engine ...
19 June 1980
The Bretheren: Inside the Supreme Court 
by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong.
Secker, 467 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 436 58122 1
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... reported is in any position to reply. A Supreme Court Justice cannot hold a news conference to discuss whether or not he joined a discussion about whether the Chief Justice was evil or stupid. But Anthony Lewis, writing in the New York Review of Books, said that his own research cast great doubt on some of the most sensational ‘disclosures’ of the book. (Woodward and Armstrong have now replied to ...

Travelling Text

Marina Warner: ‘The Arabian Nights’

18 December 2008
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, with Ursula Lyons.
Penguin, 2715 pp., £125, November 2008, 978 0 14 091166 4
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‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context: Between East and West 
edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum.
Oxford, 337 pp., £55, November 2008, 978 0 19 955415 7
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... and cruelty to be portrayed as unknown, foreign and inimical. This double dynamic, sometimes contained within a single individual’s response, both attracts readers to the stories and repels them. Anthony Hamilton, an urbane Jacobite aristocrat and soldier, living in Paris in exile at the court of James II, and a much petted cavaliere servente of the court ladies, read Galland’s translation straight ...
2 August 2018
The World as It Is: Inside the Obama White House 
by Ben Rhodes.
Bodley Head, 450 pp., £20, June 2018, 978 1 84792 517 6
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... not while the most skilful politician of all was still at the top of his game. How little they knew. Before​ Brexit, it was another B-word that signalled the dangers to come: Benghazi. After Chris Stevens, the US ambassador, was killed there in 2012 during an attack on the American compound, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, bore the brunt of Republican fury for what they saw as a cover-up of ...

What most I love I bite

Matthew Bevis: Stevie Smith

27 July 2016
The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Will May.
Faber, 806 pp., £35, October 2015, 978 0 571 31130 9
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... he called her drawings ‘cute’ while noting that some of her phrases, though not ‘full-scale’ poems, hung around in one’s mind ‘long after one has put the book down in favour of Wallace Stevens’. And then there was her interest in pets: ‘She has also written a book about cats, which as far as I am concerned casts a shadow over even the most illustrious name.’ Although the ...

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