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The analyst is always right

Mark Ford: Tessimond and Spencer

17 November 2011
Collected Poems with Translations from Jacques Prévert 
by A.S.J. Tessimond.
Bloodaxe, 188 pp., £10.95, November 2010, 978 1 85224 857 4
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Complete Poetry, Translations and Selected Prose 
by Bernard Spencer.
Bloodaxe, 351 pp., £15, February 2011, 978 1 85224 891 8
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... 23, A.S.J. Tessimond (Arthur Seymour John, Jack to his family, but known as John in later life) wrote to Ezra Pound, who had recently settled in Rapallo, enclosing some poems and an article on George Bernard Shaw. Tessimond’s letter does not survive, but Pound’s reply does. ‘Dear Sir,’ he wrote, If you were in the least familiar with my work you wd. know what I think of criticism in general ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison

16 September 1982
The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... countries must always be off the literary map: one can expect very little from books with titles like The Fortunate Traveller (Derek Walcott), Sun Poem (Edward Kamau Brathwaite), Aegean Islands (BernardSpencer) and Sun the First (Odysseus Elytis). Walcott confronts this prejudice in his new volume. Dividing his poems into those set in exile in the ‘North’ (the United States and Britain) and ...

Modernisms

Frank Kermode

22 May 1986
Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement 
by C.K. Stead.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 333 37457 6
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The Myth of Modernism and 20th-century Literature 
by Bernard​ Bergonzi.
Harvester, 216 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7108 1002 4
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The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature and the Arts 
by Roger Shattuck.
Faber, 362 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 571 12071 7
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... Larkin, appositely mentioning that one needs to be careful about taking the poet’s pronouncements as ‘a reliable guide to his practice’. There are essays on Leavis, the poets of the Forties (BernardSpencer, Alun Lewis, G.S. Fraser), on the Catholic novel, on George Steiner; the book is not quite the integral study its title may suggest. I have nothing against such collections; a lot of good ...

Rotten, Wicked, Tyrannical

Bernard​ Porter: The Meek Assassin

5 July 2012
Why Spencer​ Perceval Had to Die: The Assassination of a British Prime Minister 
by Andro Linklater.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £18.99, May 2012, 978 1 4088 2840 3
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... If Spencer Perceval is remembered at all today it’s probably as the answer to a question in a pub quiz: who is the only British prime minister ever to have been assassinated? But both he and his nemesis, John ...
20 December 1979
Poems and Journeys 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 97 pp., £3.90
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Eugene Onegin 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Charles Johnston.
Penguin Classics, 238 pp., £1.50
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... a Royal Marine Commando raid on the Burma Coast, on the night of February 22nd 1945’. This, too, ranks high among poems of the war. On its own it would be enough to class Johnston with Henry Reed, BernardSpencer, F.T. Prince and Norman Cameron. It is a high-quality example of what can by now be seen to be a particular school of Virgilian plangency, the poetry of the broken-hearted fields. But it is ...

So South Kensington

Julian Bell: Walter Sickert

20 September 2001
The Complete Writings on Art 
by Walter Sickert, edited by Anna Gruetzner Robins.
Oxford, 699 pp., £90, September 2000, 0 19 817225 7
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... Millais be looked at ‘with bowed head’: ‘I cannot understand how the feat is to be achieved, except with a hand mirror’), and made leery mock-bows at academic savants such as Roger Fry and Bernard Berenson (‘making us feel small, and breaking our heads for years with his “inis” and “iccios”’). This unflaggingly stylish and ebullient performance drew on a well-stocked wardrobe of ...

The Sun-Bather

Michael Neve

3 July 1980
Havelock Ellis 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Allen Lane, 492 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 7139 1071 2
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... by the 19th-century intelligentsia share a common aim: to replicate, as far as possible, the achievements and accuracies of the natural sciences. This is as true of the tedious volumes of Herbert Spencer, who needed a special chair, fitted with nails, to stop him falling asleep, as it is of Marxism. It holds, too, for the spate of scientific programmes, many of them German in origin, that were laid ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice

7 February 2008
Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... in technique as well as the search for subject matter, MacNeice ‘shared Cesare Pavese’s belief that “the only joy in life is to begin.”’ And Spender, in a late poem, wrote of MacNeice and BernardSpencer: Each poem Is still a new beginning. If They had been finished though they would have died Before they died. MacNeice did have favourite forms and topics, and often flogged them hard. When ...
11 June 1992
The Wreck of the Deutschland 
by Sean Street.
Souvenir, 208 pp., £15.99, March 1992, 0 285 63051 2
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Hopkins: A Literary Biography 
by Norman White.
Oxford, 531 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 19 812099 0
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... enjoy them. After all this it is quite startling, though no doubt salutary, to find the facts of the shipwreck so briskly dealt with in the two recent biographies of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Robert Bernard Martin’s book, published last year, summarises the information in two competent pages. In Norman White’s Hopkins: A Literary Biography his comments on what happened, scattered passim through the ...
22 May 1986
The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... publishers, who already include Constant’s Music Ho! and his mentor Cecil Gray’s Musical Chairs on their list (perhaps they are planning to add Gray’s Survey of Contemporary Music or Bernard Van Dieren’s Down Among the Dead Men), felt that an investment in the Lambert field ought to be consolidated. Nevertheless, the rambunctious Lambert lives were and are entertaining. The life of the ...

Too late to die early

Ruth Bernard​ Yeazell: Virginia Woolf and Harriet Martineaun in the sick room

5 February 2004
Life in the Sick-Room 
by Harriet Martineau, edited by Maria Frawley.
Broadview, 260 pp., £8.99, March 2003, 1 55111 265 5
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On Being Ill 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Hermione Lee.
Paris Press, 28 pp., £15, October 2002, 1 930464 06 1
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... tumour served for Greenhow – and most of the other doctors who joined the debate – as conclusive proof that her faith in mesmeric treatment was an illusion. Later that same month, Thomas Spencer Wells, a prominent specialist in ovarian diseases, delivered a lecture on the case to the Clinical Society of London, in which he described the growth itself – displayed for the audience together ...
20 April 1989
One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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...  there was a nearly 60 per cent poll – and it seemed possible that Mrs Thatcher’s political career would be abruptly terminated in an angry wave of Jewish anti-Tory protest. Finchley, wrote Bernard Donoughue in 1964, ‘was the Liberal Party’s greatest and most publicised hope of “another Orpington” in the South-East of England’. The Liberals even arranged two special TV campaign ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard​ Yeazell

19 January 1989
The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... one of the world’s great libraries ... and a great humanities faculty’ to track down her allusions and references. Among the ‘formative influences of my youth’, she herself cites Darwin, Spencer, Lecky and Taine; and allusions to works of science, history, art and philosophy crowd these pages almost as thickly as do passages of imaginative literature. ‘Alas, my Latin is too imperfect to ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard​ Crick

7 October 1982
... from the brief days of his fame seem to have typecast him as the Douanier Rousseau of English letters, forgetting that he had gone to Eton – just as some art lovers were to forget that Stanley Spencer had been to the Slade. So it is not easy to distinguish between the autobiographical ‘I’ and the storyteller’s ‘I’. When Penguin Books republished Down and Out in Paris and London during ...

Francis and Vanessa

Peter Campbell

15 March 1984
Francis Bacon 
by Michel Leiris, translated by John Weightman.
Phaidon, 271 pp., £50, September 1983, 0 7148 2218 3
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Vanessa Bell 
by Frances Spalding.
Weidenfeld, 399 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 0 297 78162 6
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The Omega Workshops 
by Judith Collins.
Secker, 310 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 436 10562 4
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The Omega Workshops 1913-1919: Decorative Arts of Bloomsbury 
Crafts Council, 96 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 903798 72 7Show More
The Omega Workshops: Alliance and Enmity in English Art 1911-1920 
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, 80 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 947564 00 4Show More
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... In Elizabeth Taylor’s novel The Wedding Group, published in 1968, there is a grand old painter called Harry Bretton. He is modelled, I would guess, on Eric Gill, for the Life, and Stanley Spencer, for the Work. Musing by the studio window, he considers his place in history: Turner was the greatest English painter, and was safely dead, did not encroach or suggest comparisons. But at the end ...

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