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Three feet on the ground

Marilyn Butler, 7 July 1983

William Wordsworth: The Borders of Vision 
by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Oxford, 496 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 19 812097 4
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William Wordsworth: The Poetry of Grandeur and of Tenderness 
by David Pirie.
Methuen, 301 pp., £14.95, March 1982, 0 416 31300 0
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Benjamin the Waggoner 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Paul Betz.
Cornell/Harvester, 356 pp., £40, September 1981, 0 85527 513 8
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... and a commentator on Wordsworth’s oeuvre in its best years, 1797-1805. Another British critic, David Pirie, writes in The Poetry of Grandeur and of Tenderness from a point of view which often resembles Jonathan Wordsworth’s. Pirie’s book is less obviously biographical in its orientation, yet in the end its goal ...

Medawar’s Knack

N.W. Pirie, 27 September 1990

A Very Decided Preference: Life with Peter Medawar 
by Jean Medawar.
Oxford, 256 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 217779 6
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The Threat and the Glory: Reflections on Science and Scientists 
by Peter Medawar, edited by David Pyke.
Oxford, 291 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 217778 8
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... Jean Taylor met Peter Medawar when they were students. When she married him she therefore knew that he was an extremely able biologist, but she cannot have foreseen what an energetic polymath she was attaching herself to. Medawar’s ability led at first to frequent moves to better jobs, with consequent house-hunting, and to much travel, on which she accompanied him, to lecture and attend conferences ...


Barbara Everett: Coleridge the Modernist, 7 August 2003

Coleridge’s Notebooks: A Selection 
edited by Seamus Perry.
Oxford, 264 pp., £17.99, June 2002, 0 19 871201 4
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works I: Poems (Reading Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1608 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00483 8
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works II: Poems (Variorum Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1528 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00484 6
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works III: Plays 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1620 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 09883 2
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... as William Empson did in the introduction to the selection of Coleridge’s poems he edited with David Pirie: ‘Coleridge wrote only a few very good poems.’ Debate has turned essentially on the question of which those poems were. Defending the edition he was by then at work on, Mays outlined in a 1996 lecture what he meant by his ...

Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite, 23 October 2014

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... Early on, Jones mounts a pre-emptive defence against an accusation he knows is coming. When David Aaronovitch smarmily remarks, one Oxbridge-educated staff journalist to another, ‘here we are, having our elite discussion,’ Jones tells the reader: ‘Some will claim that I am, myself, a member of the establishment. But it is not someone’s ...

All This Love Business

Jean McNicol: Vanessa and Julian Bell, 24 January 2013

Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War 
by Peter Stansky and William Abrahams.
Stanford, 314 pp., £38.95, 0 8047 7413 7
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... responsible for Julian’s fondness for country squirely pursuits. There’s a good description by David Garnett of Julian beagling at Cambridge: he was ‘far bigger, noisier and more raggedly dressed than any of his companions … bursting with happy excitement … Late in the afternoon Julian turned up with his ragged clothes torn to tatters, which flapped ...

Coe and Ovett & Co

Russell Davies, 1 October 1981

Running Free 
by Sebastian Coe and David Miller.
Sidgwick, 174 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 283 98684 0
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... people trying to ‘adopt’ Coe. Television viewers can see the process at work in the person of David Coleman, who maintains, on camera, what comes across as a flirtatiously bantering relationship with ‘Seb’. Coe may be inured to it by now, but as his book records, he has been embarrassed in the past: ‘To cap it all, [Frank] Bough had signed off the ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1995, 4 January 1996

... usual bleating of the middle classes’. I go to bed depressed only to wake and find Madsen Pirie, also from the Adam Smith Institute for the Criminally Insane, banging the same drum in the Independent. Not long ago John Bird and John Fortune did a sketch about the privatisation of air. These days it scarcely seems unthinkable. 28 February. There have ...

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