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David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... sombre. – Made successful piperade for supper. – Joely Richardson excellent and moving in David Hare’s BBC2 Screenplay. Monday 14: Wrote and posted letters to Penny Durrell-Hope and Simon Callow. It seems possible we may see him and a preview of Ballad of the Sad Café when we go up to town to review art shows for TLS. Ordered four books from ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... In the Thirties and early Forties the English poet David Gascoyne was much enamoured of the Continental, Late Romantic image of writing and of the writer as a visionary misfit. By the end of the Thirties, his place in the great Euro-Visionary Song Contest was almost secured. He confessed his ambition in his Journals in 1938: Want to write an essay on ‘The Apotheosis of Lautréamont ...

Mysteries of Kings Cross

Iain Sinclair, 5 October 1995

Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... A student had decided to write something about London poetry – was there any? He’d toyed with David Gascoyne’s A Vagrant (‘They’re much the same in most ways, these great cities’), but decided that Paris was the principal focus there. He couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for the post-Olsonian outpourings of the Seventies, most notably Allen ...

One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham, 4 October 2001

The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... He wrote The Seven Journeys at this time (it wasn’t published until 1944) and made friends with David Archer, the publisher and bookseller whose Scott Street Arts Centre in Glasgow was a venue for the avant-garde of the interwar years. Graham met Dylan Thomas there, who was sufficiently impressed to include a Graham poem at the end of one of his own ...

Enough is enough

Patricia Beer, 26 September 1991

by Antonia White, edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 320 pp., £19.95, September 1991, 0 09 470650 6
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... priggishness I dislike so intensely.’ Poets with whom she became involved – George Barker and David Gascoyne, for example – are sadly unrecognisable now as the vibrant young bucks she saw or imagined half a century ago. (She had a sharp eye, though, for dirty nails, mean and common facial expressions and weak chins.) So the literary, whoever they ...


Mary Ann Caws: Roland Penrose’s notebooks, 19 October 2006

Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose 
by Elizabeth Cowling.
Thames and Hudson, 408 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 500 51293 0
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... Ernst, a friend of Boué’s, he met the Surrealist poets and painters, and with Herbert Read and David Gascoyne, introduced Surrealism to England. He helped persuade Picasso (it didn’t take much) to contribute to the 1936 exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries in Piccadilly, which launched the movement in Britain. As Penrose tells it, Eluard had ...

Biscuits. Oh good!

Anna Vaux: Antonia White, 27 May 1999

Antonia White 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 484 pp., £20, November 1998, 9780224036191
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... have to hold my breath for fear of infecting the people who come near me.’ A view shared by David Gascoyne (with whom she was briefly in love, she nearly 40, he not yet 20), who wrote: ‘On the whole, I think her influence on the people she comes in contact with is bad ... There are very few who can stand the dazzling (but how depressing!) light ...


Denis Donoghue, 21 June 1984

Selected Essays 
by John Bayley.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 521 25828 6
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Collected Poems: 1941-1983 
by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 9780856354977
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Poems: 1953-1983 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Secker, 201 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 52151 2
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... to be put through antic paces. In such poems I am reminded of Hamburger’s friends, Edwin Muir, David Gascoyne, Vernon Watkins and Robert Francis, poets whose common styles share the knowledge of what words have gone through. What such knowledge proposes is patience, certainly not the petulance in which Hamburger indulges himself when the bad humour ...

Winter Facts

Lorna Sage, 4 April 1996

by Christine Brooke-Rose.
Carcanet, 172 pp., £9.95, February 1996, 1 85754 222 3
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... written to match her euphoria; and also, since it’s in the neo-romantic style of postwar poetry (David Gascoyne? Dylan Thomas? the Muriel Spark of those days, even?), to measure the distance between now and then: ‘London is transformed. The red underground becomes blood thundering under London’s skin ... The stuttering sky full of birds plucks the ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... which jumped around all over the place when he talked – which was a great deal of the time’. David Gascoyne described in his journal in 1936 how Jennings dominated a meeting of the English Surrealists, ‘as usual … boiling over with energy and excitement’. He reported, too, the scene when Jennings and Tom Harrisson met to discuss the formation ...

Elective Outsiders

Jeremy Harding, 3 July 1997

Conductors of Chaos: A Poetry Anthology 
edited by Iain Sinclair.
Picador, 488 pp., £9.99, June 1996, 0 330 33135 3
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Nearly Too Much: The Poetry of J.H. Prynne 
by N.H. Reeve and Richard Kerridge.
Liverpool, 196 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 85323 840 5
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Carl Rakosi: Poems 1923-41 
edited by Andrew Crozier.
Sun & Moon, 209 pp., $12.99, August 1995, 1 55713 185 6
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The Objectivists 
edited by Andrew McAllister.
Bloodaxe, 156 pp., £8.95, May 1996, 1 85224 341 4
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... stay in London thirty years ago, there is an interesting exchange with the psychiatrist David Cooper. Sinclair: It seems to me that what has emerged from this Congress [the Dialectics of Liberation] is the necessity for what has been described as madness – as one of the few active means of keeping society alive ... Cooper: Yes, I think we’ve ...

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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... more mysterious. They have been the subject of two previous books, by Mollie Gillen (1972) and David Hanrahan (2008), both called The Assassination of the Prime Minister. Linklater doesn’t add much information or evidence about the event itself, but he puts it in context, and provides fascinating if overblown speculations about the supposed ...

The Raging Peloton

Iain Sinclair: Boris Bikes, 20 January 2011

... thanks to propaganda campaigns spearheaded by Bullingdon Club toffs like Boris Johnson and David Cameron, underwent significant revision. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the horse path alongside the Regent’s Canal was mud, and forbidden to pedestrians and cyclists alike, I rode to my gardening job in Limehouse on a market wreck bought for ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... strange being alone with these two books; even the names of the poets – Charles Tomlinson, or David Gascoyne, or Robert Conquest, or John Holloway, or Christopher Middleton, or Geoffrey Hill – stood for a world that was fully England. Looking at the list of poets was like having one’s Irish nose pushed up against the polished glass of a posh ...

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