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Not Rough Enough

Tony Tanner, 19 October 1995

Bret Harte: Selected Stories and Sketches 
by David Wyatt.
Oxford, 332 pp., £5.99, February 1995, 9780192823540
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... His subsequent career is a seemingly irreversible decline into neglect and oblivion: according to David Wyatt he no longer makes even a token appearance in standard anthologies of American literature. Mark Twain’s reputation, of course, has rarely been higher. Back in 1866, however, Twain declared: ‘Though I am generally placed at the head of my ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford, 12 May 1994

The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... character in Apocalypse Now mournfully observes; but one sometimes wonders. In Out of the Sixties David Wyatt argues that Vietnam remains ‘the defining thing, our war, our story’, and he compares it to an iceberg, ‘a mostly submerged history that cruises through our dreams’. Oddly though, he in the end makes very few connections between the work ...


Jeremy Harding: Syd Barrett, 2 January 2003

Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s Lost Genius 
by Tim Willis.
Short Books, 175 pp., £12.99, October 2002, 1 904095 24 0
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... Barrett, who died of cancer in 1961 – Barrett was nearly 16. (There was Roger Waters, too, and David Gilmour – who’d replace Barrett within moments, almost, of the band’s success. Both were Cambridge boys. Both, Willis tells us, had messed around with paint pots in a late-toddler phase in the same Saturday morning art club as Barrett at Homerton ...

Tolerant Repression

Blair Worden, 10 May 1990

Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal 
by Tom Mayer.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £32.50, April 1989, 0 521 36104 4
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Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 317 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 631 13566 9
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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Portraits at the Court of Henry VIII 
by Retha Warnicke.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 521 37000 0
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English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 448 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 300 04180 2
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... is the imaginative literature of the age of John Skelton and Thomas More, and then of Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey: literature which he believes to have been gravely undervalued, and which he commends not only for its intrinsic pleasures but as a rich historical source. What the most sophisticated contemporary writers thought about the reign of ...

There isn’t any inside!

Adam Mars-Jones: William Gaddis, 23 September 2021

The Recognitions 
by William Gaddis.
NYRB, 992 pp., £24, November 2020, 978 1 68137 466 6
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by William Gaddis.
NYRB, 784 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 1 68137 468 0
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... stubborn proliferation and zero paring away of the inessential. The draughtsman Benny reveres is Wyatt Gwyon, in theory the protagonist of the book but edging away from that status. In fact, all the book’s principal characters have a tendency to wander off, sometimes for hundreds of pages, while characters who should be walk-ons hog the stage....

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism, 22 June 2006

The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... were also important to the history of Tudor literature: John Heywood, Sir Thomas Elyot, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, ‘writers who in one way or another tried to come to terms with the experience of writing under a despotic monarch’. Walker’s strength is that he understands and engages intimately with the culture of a generation schooled in the ...

Don’t like it? You don’t have to play

Wyatt Mason: David Foster Wallace, 18 November 2004

Oblivion: Stories 
by David Foster Wallace.
Abacus, 329 pp., £12, July 2004, 0 349 11810 8
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... words were generated by the celebrated youngish American novelist, journalist and story-writer David Foster Wallace. Although willing to tilt at shiny targets of grammatical contention (the ending of sentences with prepositions etc), Wallace was, for the most part, hunting bigger game: America is in the midst of a protracted Crisis of Authority in matters ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... warrant none, is actually a bit of a relief played against Fonda’s beatific and self-righteous Wyatt (think Earp), a.k.a. Captain America. But Billy’s meanness and scariness are startling. It’s possible to argue that it’s what redeems the otherwise self-indulgent film. Billy and Wyatt were never going to change the ...

Dangerous Play

Mike Selvey, 23 May 1985

Gubby Allen: Man of Cricket 
by E.W. Swanton.
Hutchinson, 311 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 09 159780 3
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Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack: 1985 
edited by John Woodcock.
Wisden, 1280 pp., £11.95, April 1985, 0 947766 00 6
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... where he lapsed into a state of knee-knocking shock. Another Englishman, the Lancastrian David Lloyd, was hit a terrifying blow in the groin by Jeff Thomson. The following summer, I too hit him in the same region. I saw him later, ice packs clasped to his nether regions, and asked after his health. ‘After Thommo it were a pleasure,’ he ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... well as their heirs, such as T. Coraghessan Boyle, Lydia Davis, Rick Moody, William Vollmann and David Foster Wallace. None of these writers – however popular or influential, however frequently their writing appeared in the Paris Review or Conjunctions or the year-end Best American and Pushcart anthologies – managed to stir him. The ‘tone of mandarin ...

Cod on Ice

Andy Beckett: The BBC, 10 July 2003

Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride And Paranoia 
by Richard Lindley.
Politico’s, 404 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 1 902301 80 3
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The Harder Path: The Autobiography 
by John Birt.
Time Warner, 532 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 316 86019 0
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... BBC’s usual conventions of ‘impartial’ news reporting – and treated like stars. Woodrow Wyatt was the first. When he was hired in 1955, he had already been a successful print journalist and a Labour junior minister, and had an opinion of himself to match. To look at, he was well-fed rather than youthful and dashing, but the architects of Panorama ...

From Swindon to Swindon

Mary Beard, 17 February 2011

Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon and Schuster, 438 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84737 798 2
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... in Jesus Lane, Cambridge. Behind an impressively classical façade, designed by Matthew Digby Wyatt, was a labyrinth of hot and cold rooms, and swimming pools, vaguely reflecting the layout and practice of an ancient Roman bath. Local worthies had invested considerable sums of money in the venture, in return for free entry. Others were to be admitted for ...


Jon Halliday, 2 June 1983

In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... up with attempts to win them over. Early on in his tenure, Radji lunches with a helpful figure, David Spanier, the Diplomatic Correspondent of the Times. Spanier tells him that there are only ‘about fifteen to twenty people who are the opinion-makers in the British press and suggests I establish regular dialogues with them. And he warns against attempts ...

La Bolaing

Patrick Collinson: Anne Boleyn, 18 November 2004

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn 
by Eric Ives.
Blackwell, 458 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 631 23479 9
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... much Protestant appraisal was muted and cautious: ‘a very wilful woman,’ according to George Wyatt, full of ‘devilish devices’; her life was ‘shameful to rehearse’, William Thomas said, defending the reputation of his recently deceased sovereign Henry VIII to an Italian audience. The story of Anne Boleyn is one which serious historians have tried ...

House of Miscegenation

Gilberto Perez: Westerns, 18 November 2010

Hollywood Westerns and American Myth 
by Robert Pippin.
Yale, 198 pp., £25, May 2010, 978 0 300 14577 9
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... they are still very much of the common people. Stagecoach was the director’s own project. David Selznick wouldn’t take it on as producer because he saw it as ‘just another Western’ with no big stars, and Walter Wanger, the eventual producer, would have wanted Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in the leads. But Ford insisted on Claire Trevor and ...

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