Search Results

Advanced Search

1 to 15 of 42 results

Sort by:

Filter by:


Article Types


... Since I am about to comment on other people’s published reactions to Martin Amis’s novel Other People, it seems right to state in summary form my own feelings on the main matters that divided the reviewers. I thought it a remarkable work, highly readable and enjoyable, not incomprehensible or unduly difficult. I have probably not fully solved the ‘mystery’, or totally mastered the intricacies of the story’s movement between Hell and the real world ...

Purloined Author

Claude Rawson, 5 February 1981

Writing and Reading in Henry James 
by Susanne Kappeler.
Macmillan, 242 pp., £15, January 1981, 0 333 29104 2
Show More
Show More
... The starting-point for this study is Roland Barthes’s theoretical aphorism that the reader is properly the “writer” or “producer” of his text.’ By the end, it appears that the original author has changed places and become ‘the reader of his text’, while the critics go on writing it for him. And not necessarily a better reader than you or I or Ms Kappeler: ‘there is nothing in [James’s] prefaces apart from some trivial biographical data of little interest, that we as readers should not be able to trace on our own ...

Dear God

Claude Rawson, 4 December 1980

Overheard by God: Fiction and Prayer in Herbert, Milton, Dante and St John 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Methuen, 147 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 416 73980 6
Show More
Show More
... Imagine – if you can – God reading this poem.’ So begins this brief, stylish book, citing Herbert’s ‘Dialogue’ (‘Sweetest Saviour, of my soul …’) and asking afterwards: ‘Is God pleased with what he reads?’ Professor Nuttall’s point is that such a question would have seemed perfectly natural in the 17th century. Many of Herbert’s poems are prayers or dialogues with God ...


Claude Rawson, 4 March 1982

Ferocious Alphabets 
by Denis Donoghue.
Faber, 211 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 571 11809 7
Show More
Show More
... Denis Donoghue begins, a little self-indulgently, by reprinting six short BBC talks on ‘Words’. The excuse is that such radio talks offer a simple if incomplete model for Donoghue’s conception of literary discourse: as an address to an invisible audience, or dialogue for ever aborted by the absence of a second party. Print, unlike radio, is silent ...

Moving Pictures

Claude Rawson, 16 July 1981

English Subtitles 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 56 pp., £3.50, March 1981, 0 19 211942 7
Show More
Unplayed Music 
by Carol Rumens.
Secker, 53 pp., £4.50, February 1981, 9780436439001
Show More
Close Relatives 
by Vicki Feaver.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1981, 0 436 15185 5
Show More
Show More
... Peter Porter’s imagination tends towards the epigram, but not quite in the popular sense which suggests brief, pithy encapsulations of wit or wisdom: Believe me, Flaccus, the epigram is more than just a cracker-motto or an inch of frivolous joking to fill up a column. When, in 1972, he published the selection of translations called After Martial, he tended to avoid ‘the two-line squibs ...


Claude Rawson, 17 June 1982

St Kilda’s Parliament 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 87 pp., £3, September 1981, 0 571 11770 8
Show More
Airborn/Hijos del Aire 
by Octavio Paz and Charles Tomlinson.
Anvil, 29 pp., £1.25, April 1981, 0 85646 072 9
Show More
The Flood 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 19 211944 3
Show More
Looking into the Deep End 
by David Sweetman.
Faber, 47 pp., £3, March 1981, 0 571 11730 9
Show More
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 28 pp., £5, December 1981, 0 907540 05 8
Show More
Show More
... The title poem of St Kilda’s Parliament is about a local institution ‘quite unlike Westminster’, a gathering ‘by interested parties to discuss the day’s work and any other issues that needed to be talked over’: On either side of a rock-paved lane, Two files of men are standing barefooted, Bearded, waistcoated, each with a tam-o’-shanter On his head, and most with a set half-smile That comes from their companionship with rock, With soft mists, with rain, with roaring gales, And from a diet of solan goose and eggs, A diet of dulse and sloke and sea-tangle, And ignorance of what a pig, a bee, a rat, Or rabbit look like, although they remember The three apples brought here by a traveller Five years ago, and have discussed them since ...

Lordly Accents

Claude Rawson, 18 February 1982

Acts of Implication 
by Irvin Ehrenpreis.
California, 158 pp., £9, June 1981, 0 520 04047 3
Show More
Show More
... In Fielding’s Journey from this World to the Next the author comes upon Shakespeare in Elysium, standing between the actors Betterton and Booth, who are disputing about the exact emphasis of a line from Othello. Shakespeare is very lofty about it all: ‘it is so long since I wrote the line, I have forgot my meaning,’ but if any of their conjectures is right, ‘it doth me very little honour ...

Blistering Attacks

Claude Rawson, 6 November 1980

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Oxford, 454 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 19 214110 4
Show More
Show More
... You wouldn’t guess it from Mr Grigson’s anthology, but satire was once a deadly activity. It literally killed, or was believed to, which sometimes had the same result. Robert Elliott’s classic study of The Power of Satire tells us that poems were used as weapons of war in pre-Islamic Arabia, and it is not only there, or in the curses of primitive tribesmen remote from our literary tradition, that this ‘power’ showed itself ...

Little People

Claude Rawson, 15 September 1983

The Borrowers Avenged 
by Mary Norton.
Kestrel, 285 pp., £5.50, October 1982, 0 7226 5804 4
Show More
Show More
... When once you have thought of big men and little men, it is very easy to do all the rest,’ said Dr Johnson of Gulliver’s Travels. This might do for a put-down of Swift, whom Johnson disliked, perhaps from a sense of likeness. But big men and little men have old folkloric origins, so the idea in itself was not new: as more than one character says in Mary Norton’s Borrower books, ‘our ancestors spoke openly about “the little people” ...

Southern Comfort

Claude Rawson, 16 April 1981

Jefferson Davis gets his citizenship back 
by Robert Penn Warren.
Kentucky/Transatlantic Book Service, 114 pp., £4.85, December 1980, 0 8131 1445 4
Show More
Being here: Poetry 1977-1980 
by Robert Penn Warren.
Secker, 109 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 36650 9
Show More
Ways of light: Poems 1972-1980 
by Richard Eberhart.
Oxford, 68 pp., £5.95, January 1981, 9780195027372
Show More
Show More
... In 1979 Robert Penn Warren – novelist, critic, and dean of American poets – returned to his native Todd County, Kentucky, to attend ceremonies in honor of another native son – Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, whose United States citizenship had just been restored, ninety years after his death, by a special act of Congress.’ The scene is set for a fine old feast of Southern Nostalgia, a versatile literary property whose manifestations range from memorable poignancies of anguished belonging, self-division and loss, to a vulgar stereotype of vaguely dyspeptic graciousness, all mint-julep and magnolia and nagging resentful memories of old gallantries downtrodden ...

War and Pax

Claude Rawson, 2 July 1981

War Music. An Account of Books 16 to 19 of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 83 pp., £3.95, May 1981, 0 224 01534 6
Show More
Ode to the Dodo. Poems from 1953 to 1978 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 176 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 224 01892 2
Show More
Under the North Star 
by Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin.
Faber, 47 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 9780571117215
Show More
Ted Hughes: The Unaccommodated Universe 
by Ekbert Faas.
Black Swallow Press, 229 pp., June 1983, 0 87685 459 5
Show More
Myth in the Poetry of Ted Hughes 
by Stuart Hirschberg.
Wolfhound, 239 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 905473 50 7
Show More
Ted Hughes: A Critical Study 
by Terry Gifford and Neil Roberts.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.50, April 1981, 0 571 11701 5
Show More
Show More
... Christopher Logue’s War Music is not ‘a translation in the accepted sense’. It’s not clear why, having said this, he should invoke Johnson’s remark that a translation’s merit should be judged by ‘its effect as an English poem’, since Johnson was talking about translations, whereas Logue’s poem is a variety of ‘poetical imitation’ and belongs to a perfectly good tradition of English poems based on or played off against an older (often Classical) original ...

Writing to rule

Claude Rawson, 18 September 1980

Boileau and the Nature of Neo-Classicism 
by George Pocock.
Cambridge, 215 pp., £12.50, June 1980, 0 521 22772 0
Show More
‘The Rape of the Lock’ and its Illustrations 1714-1896 
by Robert Halsband.
Oxford, 160 pp., £11.50, July 1980, 0 19 812098 2
Show More
Show More
... Was there such a thing as ‘Neo-Classicism’, outside the special sense of the term which art historians apply to a later period than the one over which students of literature lose so much of their composure? It seems to have existed sufficiently strongly in French studies to have produced a body of revisionist denials. The term ‘Neo-Classic’ has largely dropped out of the corridors of Englitbiz, usually to be replaced by ‘Augustan’, though one of the most loudly ballyhooed non-events in recent English studies has been an attempt to dislodge ‘Augustan’ too, on the grounds that some 18th-century authors took a dim view of Augustus Caesar ...


Claude Rawson, 1 October 1981

The Sinking of the Titanic 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Carcanet, 98 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 85635 372 8
Show More
Paul Celan: Poems 
translated by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 307 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85635 313 2
Show More
Talk about the Last Poet 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 78 pp., £4.50, July 1981, 0 370 30434 9
Show More
Show More
... Hans Magnus Enzensberger wrote The Sinking of the Titanic in German. From information supplied in the poem, which in its present form is much preoccupied with the process of its composition, he began writing it in Havana in 1969, and completed it in Berlin in 1977: the poem is thus a close contemporary of Doctorow’s Ragtime, with which it shares several features of its subject-matter, including the historical period ...


Claude Rawson, 18 November 1982

God’s Grace 
by Bernard Malamud.
Chatto, 223 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 7011 2647 7
Show More
Show More
... In Genesis 6 God said: ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.’ He was behaving like a certain kind of satirist, and an untutored reader might even suppose that a satirical author was speaking through Him. The Houyhnhnm Assembly in Gulliver’s Travels was similarly given to debating ‘Whether the Yahoos should be exterminated from the Face of the Earth’ (a type of proposition Swift entertained in his own name from time to time), or whether they should merely be castrated, a more humanely gradualist project that would achieve the same result in a generation ...

Wild Horses

Claude Rawson, 1 April 1983

‘The Bronze Horseman’ and Other Poems 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by D.M. Thomas.
Penguin, 261 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 14 042309 5
Show More
Alexander Pushkin: A Critical Study 
by A.D.P. Briggs.
Croom Helm, 257 pp., £14.95, November 1982, 0 7099 0688 9
Show More
‘Choiseul and Talleyrand’: A Historical Novella and Other Poems, with New Verse Translations of Alexander Pushkin 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 88 pp., £5.25, July 1982, 0 370 30924 3
Show More
Mozart and Salieri: The Little Tragedies 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Antony Wood.
Angel, 94 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 946162 02 6
Show More
I have come to greet you 
by Afanasy Fet, translated by James Greene.
Angel, 71 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 946162 03 4
Show More
Uncollected Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 81 pp., £4.95, September 1982, 0 7195 3969 2
Show More
Travelling without a Valid Ticket 
by Howard Sergeant.
Rivelin, 14 pp., £1, May 1982, 0 904524 39 6
Show More
Show More
... The Bronze Horseman of Pushkin’s famous poem is Falconet’s equestrian statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg. It was ordered by Catherine the Great (Petro primo Catharina secunda). Modelled on the statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, it was meant to evoke the wise emperor extending a main protectrice. Joseph de Maistre commented that one doesn’t know whether this hand protects or threatens ...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences