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Diary

Craig Raine: In Moscow, 22 March 1990

... whereas her passport, which dates from the bad old days, discreetly gives her name as Dr Elisabeth Raine. It is too late to have the ticket changed, so I collect a series of names and direct telephone numbers for use if the check-in at Terminal 2 becomes awkward. Friday 9 February. As it turns out, my wife’s birth certificate is enough to convince the ...

Subjects

Craig Raine, 6 October 1983

Peter Porter: Collected Poems 
Oxford, 335 pp., £12.50, March 1983, 0 19 211948 6Show More
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... My subject-matter is subject-matter. Is it true, as it sometimes seems, that certain subjects are inevitably more interesting than others, however much we may protest that they are merely different? For instance, does Robert Lowell’s Life Studies intrigue us more than, say, Tony Harrison’s family reminiscences in Continuous? If so, is it because Lowell’s technique is more sophisticated and fluid than Harrison’s vigorously clanking sonnet sequence in which the rhymes come like a boisterous game of snap? Or is it because the Lowell family tree is richer in eccentricity and event than that of Harrison? Where Lowell can boast a Great Aunt Sarah thundering ‘on the keyboard of her dummy piano’ and ‘risen like the phoenix / from her bed of trouble-some snacks and Tauchnitz classics’, Harrison’s relations are more familiar figures, bickering on Blackpool’s Golden Mile or locked into their ordinarily absurd theatre of non-communication: Your life’s all shattered into smithereens ...

Conrad and Prejudice

Craig Raine, 22 June 1989

Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1967-87 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 435 91000 0
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... Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist.’ This quotation is taken from ‘An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness’, a lecture delivered by the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe as long ago as 1974 and now collected in Hopes and Impediments. In City Without Walls, W.H. Auden included this squib: Even Hate should be precise: very few White Folks have fucked their mothers ...

Soul Bellow

Craig Raine, 12 November 1987

More die of heartbreak 
by Saul Bellow.
Alison Press/Secker, 335 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 436 03962 1
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... According to Oscar Wilde, before Dickens there were no fogs, and before Turner no sunsets. Wilde is merely exaggerating a truth, practising the art of aphorism, drawing our attention to this precept: we need art so that we can see what we are seeing. On his way to the Hebrides, Dr Johnson pulled down the blind on what a future generation of writers would take for their subject-matter – wild, ‘romantic’ nature ...

Good Manners

Craig Raine, 17 May 1984

The Collected Prose of Elizabeth Bishop 
edited by Robert Giroux.
Chatto, 278 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2809 7
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... Elizabeth Bishop was refined. Manners interested her, as The Collected Prose makes clear. She can remember learning ‘how to behave in school’ with more recall than most people: ‘this meant to sit up straight, not to scrape your feet on the floor, never to whisper, to raise your hand when you had to go out, and to stand up when you were asked a question ...

Kipling and Modernism

Craig Raine, 6 August 1992

... At the outset of his long literary career, Rudyard Kipling was apparently content to recognise the distinction between verse and poetry, and, if we are to judge from his letter to Caroline Taylor of 9 December 1889, equally content to accept that his own place was below the salt: ‘I am not a poet and never shall be – but only a writer who varies fiction with verse ...
... Dear Craig,     I’ve brought your books down to the sea In order to catch up with what you’ve done Since first I gasped at your facility For writing Martian postcards home. The sun Illuminates The Onion, Memory Two pages at a time. The beach girls run With naked bosoms on my low horizon And yet yours are the lines I’ve got my eyes on ...

Yoked together

Frank Kermode, 22 September 1994

History: The Home Movie 
by Craig Raine.
Penguin, 335 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 0 14 024240 6
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... reader feels ... as if he had been riding on the rims over an endless timber bridge.’ As I read Craig Raine’s new poem (a novel, an epic, a film, says the ebullient blurb) something stirred in the depths of memory, and I found myself thinking of Theophila, a very long poem published by Edward Benlowes in 1652. Theophila is written in three-line ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... by Faber, the outsiders being Thomas Kinsella, the unignorable Geoffrey Hill and the successful Craig Raine: in the world of literary publishing, such matters have some importance. Two of the pieces were published in Quarto, until recently edited by Raine himself. Raine’s name ...

A Martian goes to College

David Lodge, 6 December 1984

... with apologies to Craig Raine) Caxtons are bred in batteries. If you take one from its perch, a girl Must stun it with her fist before you bring it home. Learning is when you watch a conjurer with fifty minutes’ patter and no tricks. Students are dissidents: knowing their rooms are bugged, they Take care never to talk Except against the blare of music ...

A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

A Martian sends a postcard home 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 46 pp., £2.95
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Arcadia 
by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 50 pp., £2.75
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Love-Life 
by Hugo Williams.
Whizzard Press/Deutsch, 40 pp., £2.95
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A Faust Book 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.25, September 1979, 0 19 211895 1
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Time 
by Yehuda Amichai.
Oxford, 88 pp., £3.50
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... Craig Raine’s second collection follows swiftly upon his first, The Onion, Memory (1978). It is as if the poet had been waiting impatiently over us, while we picked ourselves up off the canvas, before delivering the second blow. A Martian sends a postcard home is a slimmer volume than its predecessor, but it will do more than simply consolidate a reputation already made ...

Being all right, and being wrong

Barbara Everett, 12 July 1990

Miscellaneous Verdicts: Writings on Writers 1946-1989 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 501 pp., £20, May 1990, 9780434599288
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Haydn and the Valve Trumpet 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 498 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 571 15084 5
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... Men of different generations and presumably social worlds, Anthony Powell and Craig Raine aren’t much alike as writers. But the novelist’s Miscellaneous Verdicts and the poet’s Haydn and the Valve Trumpet are both very good, solid selections of occasional writing. The five hundred pages to which they both run are mainly literary journalism, with some illuminating essays on the social-historical from Powell, and vivid side-glances at painters and painting from Raine ...

Decorations and Contingencies

John Bayley, 16 September 1982

Pea Soup 
by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 65 pp., £4.50, September 1982, 0 19 211952 4
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... deal of medium. In the hands of brilliant performers such as Christopher Reid, John Fuller or Craig Raine, the results can be extremely variegated and highly satisfying. It is of course misleading to put such names together – they are as different from each other as from any other poets writing today – and yet there is a recognisable similarity ...

Ten Days that Shook Me

Alan Bennett, 15 September 1988

... novelists Paul Bailey, Christopher Hope and Timothy Mo (who also writes for Boxing News), the poet Craig Raine (who doesn’t) and the playwright Sue Townsend of Adrian Mole fame. I had many misgivings about the trip, particularly in regard to creature comforts. I wondered, for instance, if the Russians had got round to mineral water. John Sturrock ...

Is it always my fault?

Denis Donoghue: T.S. Eliot, 25 January 2007

T.S. Eliot 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 202 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 19 530993 5
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... hence the justification of writing books about books, in the hope of straightening things out. Craig Raine has made several attempts, over more than thirty years, to straighten things out in favour of Eliot’s reputation. He has published six essays, by my count, towards that end, starting with an appreciation of The Waste Land in 1973. This was ...

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