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Smiles Better

Andrew O’Hagan: Glasgow v. Edinburgh, 23 May 2013

On Glasgow and Edinburgh 
by Robert Crawford.
Harvard, 345 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 674 04888 1
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... is often the word he uses, as here, in his short poem (a free version of the Latin poem by Arthur Johnston) about St Andrew’s, where he has lived with his family and worked for more than twenty years: I love how it comes right out of the blue North Sea edge, sunstruck with oystercatchers. A bullseye centred at the outer reaches, A haar of kirks, one inch ...

Unliterary, Unpolished, Unromantic

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Merchant of Prato’, 8 February 2018

The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City 
by Iris Origo.
Penguin, 400 pp., £10.99, May 2017, 978 0 241 29392 8
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... at great personal risk. To some she seemed aloof: she had a ‘built-in distance’. Susanna Johnston, who worked for Iris’s widowed stepfather, Percy Lubbock – Lady Sybil’s third husband – in the late 1950s, recalls her visits: ‘she was a formidable creature with a gigantic brain and expensive clothes … She treated us graciously, as she ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall. As a mature poet, Duncan was accused by his friend Charles Olson – along with just about everyone else who read his work – of wanton myth-mongering, a charge against which he didn’t even try to defend himself. Olson, he wrote, suspects, and rightly, that I indulge myself in pretentious fictions. I, however ...

Travels with My Mom

Terry Castle: In Santa Fe, 16 August 2007

... a weird stream-of-consciousness piece in the Village Voice by the then-radical-lesbian writer Jill Johnston. Johnston – herself once a fixture in the New York art world – described making a kooky pilgrimage to New Mexico to find Martin: a sort of sapphic Quest for Corvo. I don’t remember much about the article, except ...


Matthew Bevis: William Hazlitt, 6 November 2008

New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume I 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 507 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923573 5
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New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume II 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 553 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923574 2
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William Hazlitt: The First Modern Man 
by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 557 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 19 954958 0
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... down with you to dinner on a scrag-end of mutton, and hot potatoes.’ And conversation with Charles Lamb was remembered with delight: ‘How often did we cut into the haunch of letters, while we discussed the haunch of mutton on the table!’ Hazlitt’s writing is frequently driven by this kind of dual appreciation; when we are told about the mutton on ...

When Ireland Became Divided

Garret FitzGerald: The Free State’s Fight for Recognition, 21 January 1999

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Vol. I: 1919-22 
edited by Ronan Fanning.
Royal Irish Academy and Department of Foreign Affairs, 548 pp., £30, October 1998, 1 874045 63 1
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... Ireland, a position in which he served two seven-year terms. Duffy was the son of Young Irelander Charles Gavan Duffy, who was arrested for sedition on the eve of the 1848 Rebellion, but not convicted. In 1855, disappointed with the progress of the Tenants’ Right Party, which he had founded and represented at Westminster, ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... sent to John Taylor. He was in exalted company: other recipients of presentation copies included Charles James Fox, the Duchess of Devonshire, Anna Barbauld, ‘Monk’ Lewis, Dorothy Jordan and William Wilberforce. Taylor’s politics had not changed: he was still involved with the True Briton, and had recently been contributing to the Anti-Jacobin ...

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