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Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... sacrificed the Lusitania to draw the United States into the war. Both Diana Preston and David Ramsay deal briskly and effectively with this. Churchill and Jackie Fisher, the First Sea Lord, were preoccupied with the escalating political crisis over Gallipoli. The absence of British naval escorts for the Lusitania in the war zone reflected the ...

Top-Drawer in Geneva

Michael Wood, 30 November 1995

Belle du Seigneur 
by Albert Cohen, translated by David Coward.
Viking, 974 pp., £20, November 1995, 9780670821877
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... lovely Ariane Deume, née Ariane Cassandre Corisande d’Auble, ‘very top-drawer in Geneva’ as David Coward nicely renders ‘ce qui se fait de mieux à Genève’. The two horses suggest Solal hopes to abduct the girl right now, but he has other tricks up his sleeve, in spite of his bare breast. He appears to be thinking of killing himself, and he dons an ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 4 December 2014

Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... simile. Things aren’t like other things, they just are other things. The letters don’t mention Hopkins, but Finlay’s account of the way the force of Protean transformation is released is pure instress: ‘When I say that the cloud equals the sailing ship, I mean that anchor put by cloud, is sufficient to release the idea of cloud as sailing-ship, which ...

The End

James Buchan, 28 April 1994

The City of London. Vol. I: A World of Its Own, 1815-1890 
by David Kynaston.
Chatto, 497 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 7011 6094 2
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... administration and espionage – made this country a world power? In this meditation I found David Kynaston a sympathetic companion. Not that he has anything of interest to say about Lloyd’s: this oversight is one of my many frustrations with his excellent book. But he is deeply interested in the nature of the City, in what made it successful then and ...

The Numinous Moose

Helen Vendler, 11 March 1993

Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It 
by Brett Millier.
California, 602 pp., £18.50, April 1993, 0 520 07978 7
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... subject. The difficulty remains that Bishop’s life is not, in its externals, a heroic life; as Hopkins said, in the annals of history it is action that counts: ‘Honour is flashed off exploit,’ he wrote: But be the war within, the brand we wield Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled, Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray. It seems to ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my contemporaries’), George Herbert, Vaughan, Crabbe, Hopkins, Whitman, Campion, Morris, Christina Rossetti, John Crowe Ransom, Wyndham Lewis, Louis MacNeice, Stevie Smith. I would think a life of diverse affections could be made upon such affiliations. But Grigson seems to need to be enraged or disgusted, too. Else ...

Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander Pope: A Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... there a single memorable aperçu in all his letters? The contrast with Gray, or Keats, or even Hopkins, is glaring.’ Ignoring Pope’s outsider status, a product of his Roman Catholic faith and his physical handicap, some self-proclaimed New Historicists have slandered him as an apologist for such establishment vices as colonialism, which he explicitly ...

Sorry to go on like this

Ian Hamilton: Kingsley Amis, 1 June 2000

The Letters of Kingsley Amis 
edited by Zachary Leader.
HarperCollins, 1208 pp., £24.99, May 2000, 0 00 257095 5
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... was inventively foul-mouthed, he hated Middle English, and he was quite good at impersonating David Cecil, or Cess-hole (though not so good as Amis, at whose relentless mimicries Larkin usually guffawed). Larkin also drank a lot – beer, mostly – and merciless derision appeared to be his social forte. He was indeed the sort of chap who knew exactly ...

You’ll Love the Way It Makes You Feel

Mark Greif: ‘Mad Men’, 23 October 2008

Mad Men: Season One 
Lionsgate Home Entertainment, £29.99, October 2008Show More
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... genius. In fact Draper’s slogan was first used by Lucky Strike not in 1960 but in 1917. Claude Hopkins based a famous set of ads for Schlitz beer on a visit to the brewery, where he discovered that they washed and sanitised their bottles with steam. ‘His hosts assured him that every brewery did the same,’ as Martin Mayer recounts it in Madison ...

Diary

Paul Foot: The Buttocks Problem, 5 September 1996

... could invite to his study for extra-curricular supervision. After reading this book, I telephoned David Blackie, who now runs a computer language course in Bedfordshire, and who was unlucky enough to be patronised by Trench at Bradfield in the early Sixties. Blackie is quoted by Peel as criticising Trench’s ‘penchant for unrestricted and unsupervised ...

Nate of the Station

Nick Richardson: Jonathan Coe, 3 March 2016

Number 11 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 351 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 670 92379 3
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... On 18 July​ 2003, the body of the weapons inspector David Kelly was found in the woods on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire, two months after he’d revealed that the Blair administration had exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Rachel Wells, the central character in Number 11 and the narrator of the first of its five overlapping stories, was ten when Kelly’s body was discovered ...

The Wildest, Highest Places

David Craig, 17 July 1997

John Muir: His Life and Letters and Other Writings 
edited by Terry Gifford.
Baton Wicks, 912 pp., £20, November 1996, 1 898573 07 7
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... word ‘write’ in the Old English writan, to ‘scratch’ or ‘score’. In those same years Hopkins was minting words like ‘bone-house’, ‘yestertempest’, ‘leaf-light’, ‘knee-nave’, ‘shadowtackle’, ‘trambeams’, because the stuff of life sank into him so deeply that to express its being he had to fuse one thing with another. The ...

Our Shapeshifting Companion

David Cantor: Cancer, 7 March 2013

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer 
by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Fourth Estate, 571 pp., £9.99, September 2011, 978 0 00 725092 9
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... suggests, physicians’ interventions had been crude. In the late 19th century, the Johns Hopkins surgeon William Stewart Halsted pioneered radical forms of mastectomy, shunning what he called ‘mistaken kindness’ in favour of removing not only the breast but much, much more. The key to successful treatment, he believed, was to remove the tumour ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... by place, from Mossbawn to St Columb’s College in Derry, where Heaney discovered Wordsworth and Hopkins, and then to Queen’s University in Belfast. ‘When I wrote my first poems as an undergraduate,’ Heaney says, ‘I wrote in Hopkins-speak.’ That early affinity sprang not only from ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth, 23 March 2006

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... child growing up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side a few years before the First World War. David Schearl, the protagonist, lives in terror of his father, an implacably resentful man called Albert, who boils with rage every evening while recounting real or imagined workplace slights: ‘They look at me crookedly, with mockery in their eyes! How much can ...

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