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Savage Rush

David Trotter: The Tube, 21 October 2010

Underground Writing: The London Tube from George Gissing to Virginia Woolf 
by David Welsh.
Liverpool, 306 pp., £70, May 2010, 978 1 84631 223 6
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... as an occasion for otherwise elusive experience. It came to represent the modern in general, as David Welsh ably demonstrates in two immense chapters, one on utopian fantasy from the turn of the 20th century, the other on the inevitable ensuing sourness. In Anticipations (1902), H.G. Wells imagined the Metropolitan Railway’s ‘black and ...

On David King

Susannah Clapp, 21 June 2018

... for drawings and paintings – and commissioned photographs. Some of the most powerful were by David King. He used to come blazing into the office with his huge black-and-white portraits, already measured up for size: no question, ever, of anything being cropped. One was of the writer Francis Wyndham, then in his sixties, in conversation with a 34-year-old ...

Hydra’s Heads

Terence Hawkes, 22 February 1996

The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dŵr 
by R.R. Davies.
Oxford, 401 pp., £20, November 1995, 0 19 820508 2
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The Prince’s Choice: A Personal Selection from Shakespeare 
Hodder, 137 pp., £12.99, November 1995, 0 340 66039 2Show More
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... encounter with Glyn Dŵr obviously locks onto traditional oppositions that caricature both the Welsh sensibility and the English. The one, dealing in mythology, magic and prophecy, duly rants, boasts and carries on in the face of the other’s hard-headed commitment to reason and common sense. But the play goes on to blur the edges of exactly those ...

To arms!

Patrick Parrinder, 20 March 1997

The Doll 
by Boleslaw Prus, translated by David Welsh.
Central European University, 683 pp., £9.99, September 1996, 1 85866 065 3
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... Is every fictional character a kind of doll? Thackeray presented his characters as puppets, which he took out of the box at the beginning of the novel, and shut away again at the end. E.M. Forster spoke of round and flat characters, as if they were two types of doll; the flat ones could be made lifelike by shaking them vigorously. The gulf between childhood toys and adult reading is bridged by fantasy tales such as Pinocchio, where the puppet comes to life, and Hoffmann’s ‘The Sand-Man’, in which the beautiful Olympia turns out to be a mechanical doll ...

Quibbling, Wrangling

Jeremy Waldron: How to draft a constitution, 12 September 2019

Revolutionary Constitutions: Charismatic Leadership and the Rule of Law 
by Bruce Ackerman.
Harvard, 457 pp., £25.95, May 2019, 978 0 674 97068 7
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... wrecking the economy? It looked hopeless. In his fine book The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (2009), David Welsh asked: ‘How could two such opposed organisations as the ANC and the NP ever hope to reach a constitutional settlement, given their respective histories, their radically different constitutional proposals, and a serious difference of opinion ...

Seconds from a Punch-Up

Andy Beckett: Irvine Welsh, 10 May 2012

Skagboys 
by Irvine Welsh.
Cape, 548 pp., £12.99, April 2012, 978 0 224 08790 2
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... from cult status to ubiquity. Soon afterwards I too found myself improbably mesmerised by Irvine Welsh’s often squalid tales of young heroin addicts from Leith, Edinburgh’s blustery, downtrodden port, in the late 1980s. With its needles and cravings, its bare junkie flats and shivery withdrawal scenes, its hovering premonitions of HIV and ...

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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... with Armitage and Crawford including a more than symbolic amount of poetry in its original Welsh, Irish or Scottish Gaelic, accompanied by parallel English translations. O’Brien is more Anglocentric: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is in facing-page English, but Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith, for example, occur only in English, and there is no ...

Mulishness

Paul Keegan: David Jones removes himself, 7 November 2019

David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet 
by Thomas Dilworth.
Vintage, 448 pp., £14.99, January 2019, 978 0 7847 0800 2
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Epoch and Artist Selected Writings 
by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood.
Faber, 320 pp., £18.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33950 1
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‘The Dying Gaul’ and Other Writings 
by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood.
Faber, 240 pp., £17.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33953 2
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Dai Greatcoat A Self-Portrait of David Jones in His Letters 
edited by René Hague.
Faber, 280 pp., £17.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33952 5
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... You​ ought to be in a kindergarten,’ a Canadian nurse exclaimed to David Jones, aged twenty, awaiting transfer home in July 1916 after being wounded in Mametz Wood. Even a decade later, photographs show a wary child or an understudy for an adult. Prudence Pelham, the staunchest of his extended female fellowship, described him as ‘completely unsexed ...

The Powyses

D.A.N. Jones, 7 August 1980

After My Fashion 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 286 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 330 26049 9
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Weymouth Sands 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 567 pp., £2.95, June 1980, 0 330 26050 2
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Recollections of the Powys Brothers 
edited by Belinda Humfrey.
Peter Owen, 288 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 7206 0547 4
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John Cowper Powys and David Jones: A Comparative Study 
by Jeremy Hooker.
Enitharmon, 54 pp., £3.75, April 1979, 0 901111 85 6
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The Hollowed-Out Elder Stalk 
by Roland Mathias.
Enitharmon, 158 pp., £4.85, May 1979, 0 901111 87 2
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John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest 
by Morine Krissdottir.
Macdonald, 218 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 354 04492 3
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... a Mohawk in the Sky!’ Is it a man, is it a bird? Is Powysianism a cult, a fan-club, a Welsh academic festival? Let us turn to Recollections of the Powys Brothers, to attempt historical perspective. In the Thirties and Forties, when I was a boy, the most acceptable of the Powys brothers was Theodore Francis – both to Dr Leavis and to the general ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: David Jones’s War, 19 March 2015

... Last year​ – year one of the Great War centenary – David Jones’s In Parenthesis, a long prose-and-verse evocation of his first months as a soldier, got a decent outing. The poet Owen Sheers drew on the text for his play Mametz at National Theatre Wales in the summer; Faber reissued the book with T.S. Eliot’s introduction in its series Poets of the Great War; and in Poetry of the First World War (2013), Tim Kendall chose a fine sequence of extracts – sticking to the verse where he could – even though he reckoned that Jones is ‘by far the most difficult [poet] to anthologise ...

Reading Cure

John Sutherland, 10 November 1988

The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. Vol. IV: 1824-1900 
edited by Walter Houghton, Esther Rhoads Houghton and Jean Harris Slingerland.
Toronto/Routledge, 826 pp., £95, January 1988, 0 7102 1442 1
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Circulation: Defoe, Dickens and the Economies of the Novel 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 148 pp., £27.50, October 1988, 0 333 40542 0
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From Copyright to Copperfield 
by Alexander Welsh.
Harvard, 200 pp., £19.95, December 1987, 0 674 32342 4
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... with other footloose professors? There seems to be an ‘only connect’ issue somewhere here. David Trotter’s book begins with the word ‘perhaps’. It echoes in the mind for a while. He contends that in the fiction of Defoe and Dickens the metaphor of circulation of the blood, as proposed by William Harvey in 1616, marries with the metaphor of money ...

Pastiche

Norman Stone, 21 July 1983

The Invention of Tradition 
edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £17.50, March 1983, 0 521 24645 8
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... and entertaining contributions. Hugh Trevor-Roper discusses the origins of Scottish kitsch; David Cannadine the (not at all remote) origins of British royal ritual; other contributions concern British rule in India and Welsh cultural identity (treated more respectfully than Trevor-Roper treats poor old Scotland). Eric ...

We stop the words

David Craig: A.L. Kennedy, 16 September 1999

Everything you need 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 567 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 224 04433 8
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... wears off. Our anti-hero, Nathan, is undergoing his self-imposed ordeals on an island off the Welsh coast. Here writers live in a community paid for by a trust. They may write, they may not. They may find, or they may destroy, themselves. Each is obliged to undertake seven Main Events, a kind of DIY ordeal, under the quasi-pastoral supervision of Joe ...

The man whose portrait they painted

Patrick Procktor, 12 July 1990

A Life with Food 
by Peter Langan and Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 128 pp., £16.99, May 1990, 9780747502203
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... From David Hockney’s Lord of Misrule to its repetition on the back of the jacket, this book is a bull shot, like the cocktail at the bar in Langan’s Brasserie. It consists of Langan’s self-portrait, written in the sleepless marches, to which the art critic Brian Sewell has contributed a memoir of friendship which will come as a pleasant surprise to readers more accustomed to his inspired Sowerberry in the columns of the Evening Standard ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... David Peterley’s Peterley Harvest was first published on 24 October 1960. The book had a curious history and, shortly before publication, stories began to appear in the press declaring it to be an elaborate hoax. The jacket of the book contained the information that David Peterley was the only son of an old Quaker family that had ‘lived in the Chilterns and been neighbours of Milton and the Penns ...

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