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Men in Love

Paul Delany, 3 September 1987

Women in Love 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by David Farmer, Lindeth Vasey and John Worthen.
Cambridge, 633 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 521 23565 0
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The Letters of D.H. Lawrence: Vol. IV, 1921-24 
edited by Warren Roberts, James Boulton and Elizabeth Mansfield.
Cambridge, 627 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 521 23113 2
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... his own emotions ebbed and flowed. In April 1915 he was ‘mad with misery and hostility’ over David Garnett’s entanglement with Bloomsbury homosexuality. A year later came Lawrence’s abortive effort at blutbrüderschaft with John Middleton Murry. In the summer of 1918 Lawrence probably consummated his infatuation with the Cornish ...

Country Life

Christopher de Bellaigue: How to Farm, 21 April 2022

English Pastoral: An Inheritance 
by James Rebanks.
Penguin, 304 pp., £9.99, September 2021, 978 0 14 198257 1
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Field Work: What Land Does to People and What People Do to Land 
by Bella Bathurst.
Profile, 236 pp., £9.99, April, 978 1 78816 214 2
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... Farmer’s​ Glory, the classic agrarian memoir by A.G. Street, was published in 1932. The traditional mixed farm where Arthur Street spent his boyhood in the first decade of the 20th century was the centre of a self-sufficient community, stout in defence of the four-course rotation and despising anything shop-bought ...

David Nokes on the duality of Defoe

David Nokes, 19 April 1990

Daniel Defoe: His Life 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 671 pp., £20.50, November 1989, 0 8018 3785 5
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... as hosier, brick-and-tile manufacturer, wine-importer, horse-dealer, salt-factor, oyster-farmer, perfumier, linen-trader, timber-merchant etc etc, and his extensive espionage work on behalf of Robert Harley, Defoe was an indefatigable writer. Peter Earle, in the introduction to The World of Defoe (1976), confesses the alarm he experienced when ...

Among Flayed Hills

David Craig, 8 May 1997

The Killing of the Countryside 
by Graham Harvey.
Cape, 218 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 224 04444 3
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... if he gets round to the job in October, he destroys the fruit. How different from the Yorkshire farmer in the dale of Dent where we used to stay at Easter. He looked after his own field boundaries, layering the hedges and mending the stone dykes, and when I told him one evening that the blackthorn was flowering already down by the river, he exclaimed: ‘I ...

How to Grow a Weetabix

James Meek: Farms and Farmers, 16 June 2016

... or along waterways. Most of the vast mosaic will never be entered by any human being except the farmer, a trickle of contractors and, once in a while, a government official. Not that such people are often to be seen. Away from the roads, the space between human habitations in lowland Britain has acquired a ghostly quality. It is rare to visit the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inglourious Basterds’, 10 September 2009

Inglourious Basterds 
directed by Quentin Tarantino.
August 2009
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... you have actually seen: Sergio Leone’s Once upon a Time in the Resistance, for instance, or David Lean’s Bridge on the River Seine, or Jean-Pierre Melville’s Shadows of the Army. The film opens with a homage to Leone, Morricone-style music (by Morricone, as it happens) on the soundtrack, and the words ‘Once upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane, 24 September 2015

by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... most of the country writers who have stayed with me indelibly: William Cobbett of Rural Rides, a farmer’s son and himself a farmer from time to time; John Muir of My First Summer in the Sierra, a farmer’s son and farmer; and Lewis Grassic Gibbon of ...

A Useless Body

David Craig: The Highland Clearances, 18 May 2017

Set Adrift upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances 
by James Hunter.
Birlinn, 572 pp., £14.99, September 2016, 978 1 78027 354 9
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... Hunter, ‘is a quarrier, mason, woodman, carrier … carpenter, cooper, turf-cutter, thatcher … farmer, cattle dealer, poacher and God knows what.’ Such indeed was the variety of skills that supported life before the factory system and which was now to be systematically and explicitly done away with. In a croft house a few miles from the ...

Hot Fudge

Jane Campbell, 19 October 1995

by Jane Smiley.
Flamingo, 414 pp., £15.99, May 1995, 9780002252355
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... novel A Thousand Acres, a transposition of King Lear to contemporary Iowa. Larry Cook is an ageing farmer who, by dint of hard work, canny management and lack of aversion to profiting from the misfortunes of others, has built up his farm to 1000 acres. ‘The seemingly stationary fields are always flowing toward one ...

Back to Reality

David Edgar: Arthur Miller and the Oblong Blur, 18 March 2004

Arthur Miller: A Life 
by Martin Gottfried.
Faber, 484 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 571 21946 2
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... In his 1987 autobiography, Arthur Miller tells of a conversation with a Kentucky farmer about the Holy Ghost. Pressed to give a definition of the most mysterious element in the Trinity, the farmer replied: ‘I figure it’s sort of an oblong blur.’ In a later interview, Miller used the same phrase to describe the political mood of the late 1970s: ‘We were living in what to me was a kind of oblong blur ...

To the Manure Born

David Coward: An uncompromising champion of the French republic, 21 July 2005

Memoirs of a Breton Peasant 
by Jean-Marie Déguignet, translated by Linda Asher.
Seven Stories, 432 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 1 58322 616 8
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... born near Quimper, in Brittany, in 1834, the fifth of ten children born to an illiterate tenant farmer. A succession of bad harvests drove the family off the land into the town and at six, Jean-Marie was sent out to beg. He survived fevers, the potato famine of 1845, and a near-fatal accident which happened when he was ‘no taller than a riding-boot’. A ...


Christian Parenti: The opium farmers of Afghanistan, 20 January 2005

... the local farmers to grow opium poppy. ‘Three years ago we didn’t grow much poppy,’ a farmer tells me. ‘Now everyone grows it, even the police chief. Tomorrow I will get you some.’ I’ve driven out here with a photographer, Teru Kuwayama, and a man I’ll call Mustafa, who has taken a few days off from his work as a driver for an NGO in Kabul ...


Peter Campbell, 21 January 1988

Running with the fox 
by David Macdonald.
Unwin Hyman, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 04 440084 5
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... early systematic observers. Edward, second Duke of York, in his Master of the Game noticed what David Macdonald’s research has confirmed: foxes eat worms. As it became a more respectable quarry the fox was pampered: its habitat was protected, its enemy, the farmer with chickens, bought off, and the long argument between ...

The End of British Farming

Andrew O’Hagan: British farming, 22 March 2001

... produce where we can. With carrots, for example, we want to provide economic profitability to the farmer, using the short carrots for one line of produce and the bigger ones for another.’ The Cromwell Road branch of Sainsbury’s is what they call a ‘flagship store’. It’s not only a giant emporium, it is also grander than any other store in the ...

Simple Facts and Plain Truths

David A. Bell: Common Sense, 20 October 2011

Common Sense: A Political History 
by Sophia Rosenfeld.
Harvard, 337 pp., £22.95, 0 674 05781 3
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... colleagues. They were horrified by the progress of philosophical scepticism, exemplified by David Hume, which they saw as corroding the foundations of Christian faith. Reid, in An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense of 1764, argued in response that ‘there are certain principles … which the constitution of our nature leads ...

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