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Raiding Joyce

Denis Donoghue, 18 April 1985

James Joyce 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £20, November 1984, 9780521240147
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James Joyce and Sexuality 
by Richard Brown.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £19.50, March 1985, 0 521 24811 6
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Joyce’s Dislocutions: Essays on Reading as Translation 
by Fritz Senn, edited by John Paul Riquelme.
Johns Hopkins, 225 pp., £22.20, December 1984, 0 8018 3135 0
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Post-Structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French 
edited by Derek Attridge and Daniel Ferrer.
Cambridge, 162 pp., £20, January 1985, 9780521266369
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... Simpson’s housewarming party in 1888, again at Leopardstown Races, and who, now married to Denis Breen, he meets on the morning of the novel and in guilty hallucination in “Circe” ’. If flirtation and hallucination put us on the verge of adultery, we’re in trouble. There is also a very odd passage about masturbation. Brown rebukes Fritz Senn ...

Examples

Denis Donoghue, 2 February 1984

Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... I’ll talk mostly about Towards 2000, so I should give a brief account of Writing in Society and Radical Earnestness to begin with. Radical Earnestness is a brisk survey of a ‘tradition of thought’, a ‘mode of feeling’, which Fred Inglis identifies as English and, in a vague sense, socialist. The tradition is characterised by ‘a habit of recourse to concrete examples in argument, a calm refusal of formal metaphysics, an unexamined criticism of “over-abstraction” (which means other people’s abstractions), and a general preference for non-systematised or pluralist theories of political life ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... A few weeks ago I gave a lecture at Reading, to a Conference of Higher Education Teachers of English. My visit was brief, but long enough to reinforce my sense that teaching English has become a heavy duty. It seems to be a long drag before you get to the point of reading any literature. In the olden days a critic speaking to that Conference would have talked about a poem or a novel ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue, 20 December 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... Orwell took little care of his manuscripts. He didn’t anticipate that collectors of such things would pay real money for them, and that universities would think it a privilege to turn a writer’s bits and pieces into an archive. The typescript used in the printing of Nineteen Eighty-Four is in the Orwell Archive at University College London ...

Keach and Shelley

Denis Donoghue, 19 September 1985

Shelley’s Style 
by William Keach.
Methuen, 269 pp., £18, April 1985, 9780416303209
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Ariel: A Shelley Romance 
by André Maurois and Ella D’Arcy.
Penguin, 252 pp., £1.95, September 1985, 0 14 000001 1
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... His is a fine book, but I wish Mr Keach had supplied a more explicit context for it. Apart from saying that Shelley’s language hasn’t been adequately described, he relies on the reader to know how the critical debate stands. He assumes too much, so I’ll mention some of the matters he takes for granted. The case against Shelley has been stated so insistently by modern critics that you would imagine they had invented it ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... In ‘A Wave’, the title-poem of his new collection, John Ashbery says, among many other things: One idea is enough to organise a life and project it Into unusual but viable forms, but many ideas merely Lead one thither into a morass of their own good intentions. The reference to ‘one idea’ recalls the passage in ‘Esthétique du Mal’ where Wallace Stevens dismisses                                      the lunatic of one idea         In a world of ideas, who would have all the people Live, work, suffer and die in that idea In a world of ideas ...

Venisti tandem

Denis Donoghue, 7 February 1985

Selected Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Viking, 204 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 670 80040 6
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Palladas: Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Anvil, 47 pp., £2.95, October 1984, 9780856461279
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Men and Women 
by Frederick Seidel.
Chatto, 70 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2868 2
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Dangerous play: Poems 1974-1984 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 110 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 907540 56 2
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Mister Punch 
by David Harsent.
Oxford, 70 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211966 4
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An Umbrella from Piccadilly 
by Jaroslav Seifert and Ewald Osers.
London Magazine Editions, 80 pp., £5, November 1984, 0 904388 75 1
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... A year or two ago, Geoffrey Hartman urged literary critics to declare their independence. They should not regard criticism as an activity secondary to the literature it addressed, but as an art in its own right. Think of Pater, Valéry, Blanchot. Hartman’s advice seemed bad to me, and I preferred to abide by T.S. Eliot’s assumption that the aim of criticism should be ‘the elucidation of works of art and the correction of taste ...

A University for Protestants

Denis Donoghue, 5 August 1982

Trinity College Dublin 1592-1952: An Academic History 
by R.B. McDowell and D.A. Webb.
Cambridge, 580 pp., £35, June 1982, 0 521 23931 1
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... In 1591 the Corporation of Dublin set aside as the site for a college the lands and dilapidated buildings of the Augustinian priory of All Hallows, which had been given to the city at the dissolution of the monasteries. A year later, on 3 March 1592, Queen Elizabeth issued a charter incorporating ‘the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity near Dublin’ as ‘the mother of a university’ with the aim of providing ‘education, training and instruction of youths and students in the arts and faculties ...

Ireland at Swim

Denis Donoghue, 21 April 1983

The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 
edited by M.P. Hederman and R. Kearney, with a preface by Seamus Heaney.
Blackwater Press/Colin Smythe, 930 pp., £25, October 1982, 9780905471136
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A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Knopf, 352 pp., $16.95, April 1983, 0 394 42225 2
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... The Crane Bag is a magazine, published twice a year: each issue deals with one theme. In Irish legend, the crane bag contained the alphabet of knowledge. The bag belonged to Manannan, god of the sea: it was made from the skin of his wife Aoife, whom Manannan had transformed into a crane because she tried to steal his secret knowledge and communicate it to the world ...

Foreigners

Denis Donoghue, 21 June 1984

Selected Essays 
by John Bayley.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 521 25828 6
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Collected Poems: 1941-1983 
by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 9780856354977
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Poems: 1953-1983 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Secker, 201 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 52151 2
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... One of Anthony Thwaite’s poems, ‘Tell it slant’, swerves from Emily Dickinson’s line ‘Tell all the Truth but tell it slant’ to settle upon an aesthetic procedure she would have been too nervous to enunciate: Truth is partial. Name the parts But leave the outline vague and blurred. Dickinson thought the truth should dazzle gradually, and that the best ploy was ‘circuit ...

Romantic Ireland

Denis Donoghue, 4 February 1982

The Collected Stories of Sean O’Faolain: Vols I and II 
Constable, 445 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 00 946330 5Show More
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... It is good to have the second volume of Sean O ‘Faolain’s short stories. The first brought together seven stories from Midsummer Night Madness (1932), 14 from A Purse of Coppers (1937), and 13 from Teresa, and Other Stories (1947). Now the second has ten stories from The Stories of Sean O’Faolain (1958), 11 from I remember! I remember! (1961), and ten from The Heat of the Sun (1966 ...

What can the matter be?

Denis Donoghue, 5 April 1990

Ulster Politics: The Formative Years, 1868-86 
by B.M. Walker.
Ulster Historical Foundation/Institute of Irish Studies, 327 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 901905 40 2
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Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society 
by J.J. Lee.
Cambridge, 754 pp., £55, January 1990, 0 521 26648 3
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... We feel in England that we have treated you rather unfairly,’ Haines says to Stephen Dedalus in the first chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses: ‘it seems history is to blame.’ But he doesn’t say which history. The history that accounts for the sporadic but endless killings in Northern Ireland begins no later than 24 December 1601, when Lord Mountjoy’s forces defeated Hugh O’Neill’s at the battle of Kinsale ...

Leases of Lifelessness

Denis Donoghue, 7 October 1993

Beckett’s Dying Words 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 218 pp., £17.50, July 1993, 0 19 812358 2
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... Near to death in Malone Dies, Malone says: ‘I wonder what my last words will be, written, the others do not endure, but vanish, into thin air.’ Beckett’s Dying Words is not a study of Beckett’s dying words if he said any, or of Malone’s. It is about words spoken or written in the vicinity of death, responsive to a conviction of their own death – a death which does not abort the possibility of a little further life before the body is coffined ...

I hate thee, Djaun Bool

Denis Donoghue: James Clarence Mangan, 17 March 2005

James Clarence Mangan: Selected Writings 
edited by Sean Ryder.
University College Dublin, 514 pp., £21, February 2004, 1 900621 92 4
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1832-39 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 416 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2577 1
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1840-82 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 496 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2735 9
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James Clarence Mangan: Poems 
edited by David Wheatley.
Gallery Press, 160 pp., £8.95, April 2005, 1 85235 345 7
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Selected Poems of James Clarence Mangan 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Rudolf Holzapfel, Peter Van der Kamp and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 320 pp., £16, May 2003, 0 7165 2782 0
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... On 15 February 1902, James Joyce, aged 20, read a paper on James Clarence Mangan to the Literary and Historical Society of what is now University College, Dublin. It was a brash performance. Joyce spoke as if he were introducing an unknown poet, and chose to ignore the facts that there were several collections of Mangan’s poems at large and that his life and work had been extensively written about ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue, 7 November 1985

Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... One of Donald Davie’s early poems, and one of his strongest, is ‘Pushkin: A Didactic Poem’, from Brides of Reason (1955). As in Davie’s ‘Dream Forest’, Pushkin is taken as a model, a poet Who recognised no checks Yet brooked them all – a mind Molten and thereby fluent, Unforced, easily strict. In this didactic poem the speaker is professional, drawing his comparisons with rehearsed casualness: In the matter of Pushkin, Emily Brontë Is the best analogy in some ways Among our poets ...

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