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So far so Bletchley Park

John Ray, 8 June 1995

Deciphering the Indus Script 
by Asko Parpola.
Cambridge, 374 pp., £60, September 1994, 0 521 43079 8
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The World on Paper 
by David Olson.
Cambridge, 318 pp., £17.95, May 1994, 0 521 44311 3
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... unite society, but which might equally tear it apart. Do we possess writing or does it possess us? David Olson’s The World on Paper explores the relationship between thought and writing from a different perspective. Olson is a cognitive scientist, and a brave man. ‘Contrary to writers from Aristotle to ...

Why Not Eat an Eclair?

David Runciman: Why Vote?, 9 October 2008

Free Riding 
by Richard Tuck.
Harvard, 223 pp., £22.95, June 2008, 978 0 674 02834 0
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... of one’s contribution to group activities on this scale. This was a point made by Mancur Olson in 1965 in The Logic of Collective Action, which is often seen as initiating the widespread acceptance of the problem of ‘free riding’ for large group activities, the free rider being the person who, seeing that his individual contribution doesn’t ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... the cowboy statue has sought protection from the elements and taken shelter indoors. Florence has David, also transferred from open to inner space; Orange County has John Wayne. Orange County, where unfettered individualism rises from a government-subsidised foundation in mineral wealth, agribusiness, aerospace and real-estate speculation. When John Wayne ...

Dysfunctional Troglodytes with Mail-Order Weaponry

Iain Sinclair: Edward Dorn, 11 April 2013

Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... holes in sponsored periodicals. The scene was being set for the arrival in Colchester of Charles Olson, last rector of the now collapsed and dispersed Black Mountain College, theorist and psychopomp of ‘Projective Verse’ and open-field poetics, author of the great post-Poundian epic The Maximus Poems, and headline star of Donald Allen’s anthology. At ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... on Basil Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, Hugh MacDiarmid, J.M. Synge, David Jones, George Steiner, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Daryush and the fraternity of poets anthologised by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville in A Various Art. It also includes a number of Davie’s poems. If we were to read the adjective ‘British’ in the ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne, 7 September 2000

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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Triodes 
by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... book and enables us to identify two important early influences: Donald Davie and Charles Olson. The rest of his work has appeared from small presses and in little magazines. It has been regular and prolific: more than two dozen books or pamphlets to date, of which two – Pearls that Were and Triodes – appeared last year after the publication of ...

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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... etc? If he despises William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Gertrude Stein, Robert Lowell, Charles Olson, Edith Sitwell, Augustus John and Ted Hughes, what’s the merit of vulgarity and spleen? Many trees have been cut down to make the paper on which Grigson has spewed his contempt for teachers, critics, literary editors, the scholars who retain Emily ...

Vindicated!

David Edgar: The Angry Brigade, 16 December 2004

The Angry Brigade: The Cause and the Case 
by Gordon Carr.
ChristieBooks, 168 pp., £34, July 2003, 1 873976 21 6
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Granny Made Me an Anarchist 
by Stuart Christie.
Scribner, 423 pp., £10.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5918 1
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... 14 months later. Escaping arrest, Soliah had gone underground, changed her name to Sara Jane Olson and built a new life for herself as the wife of a suburban doctor. In December 2001, she was sentenced to five years and four months’ imprisonment (later extended to 14 years) for attempting to blow up two Los Angeles police cars with a pipe bomb in ...

Omdamniverous

Ian Sansom: D.J. Enright, 25 September 2003

Injury Time: A Memoir 
by D.J. Enright.
Pimlico, 183 pp., £12.50, May 2003, 9781844133154
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... to have amused him and stimulated him, and made him want to write in the first place. Charles Olson once wrote of Melville that ‘he read to write,’ which is a profound tribute: it’s certainly better than writing to be read. One of the reasons we enjoy reading Enright is because we want to know what he’s been reading – Pascal and Robert Musil ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... We won’t find, for instance, Burns Singer, one of the most original poets of the Fifties, or David Wright and John Heath-Stubbs. All three were friends of Graham, and their inclusion might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson, whose 1948 Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (reprinted by ...

Is R2-D2 a person?

Galen Strawson, 18 June 2015

Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns and the Unity of a Life 
by Marya Schechtman.
Oxford, 214 pp., £35, March 2014, 978 0 19 968487 8
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... philosophers of personal identity who are called ‘animalists’ (notably Paul Snowdon and Eric Olson). But the concept of a person contains pressures that push us to say different things. We have for example to consider diseases that radically alter personality. People have divorced on the grounds that ‘this isn’t the person I married,’ and one ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary, 15 December 2016

The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... efforts to organise the American premiere of Boulez’s Second Sonata – performed by the pianist David Tudor, who would premiere 4’33” – but relations between the two composers began to deteriorate as Cage’s obsession with using chance in composition proved incompatible with Boulez’s insistence that every parameter in a piece had to be carefully ...

Death (and Life) of the Author

Peter Wollen: Kathy Acker, 5 February 1998

... male and female, self and other, the sexual and the political. Writing about Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath , Kathy Acker commented on its nihilism, as she saw it: ‘The sexual is the political realm. There is no engagement.’ Barbara Kruger paid outrageous homage to Acker by rewriting – or, rather, parodying – her work that same ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... who write poetry of home are often aware of its dangers though they may not always avoid them. David Dabydeen’s ‘Coolie Odyssey’, dedicated ‘for Ma’, and included in Section One of the four-part ‘alternative’ anthology, The New British Poetry, opens: Now that peasantry is in vogue, Poetry bubbles from peat bogs, People strain for the old ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate, 20 March 2003

All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... describes is a traveller’s nightmare: Englishness lost, identity cancelled, fatal infection,’ David Seabrook writes of Thomas De Quincey. Of himself, the dole-queue De Quincey, making a high-velocity, long-term progress through the Isle of Thanet. More speed, less haste: Seabrook is a master of the throwaway put-down, a speculator in tachist ...

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