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E.S. Turner shocks the sensitive

E.S. Turner, 20 August 1992

Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma 
by George MacDonald Fraser.
Harvill, 255 pp., £16, June 1992, 0 00 272660 2
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Tyrants and Mountains: A Reckless Life 
by Denis Hills.
Murray, 262 pp., £19.95, June 1992, 0 7195 4640 0
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... mopping up, this book is a crackling performance, livened by fierce comedy and enriched by anger. Denis Hills, the ‘reckless’ author of Tyrants and Mountains, is the man who in 1975 was rescued from Idi Amin’s death squads by Mr James Callaghan, then Foreign Secretary, who flew to Uganda for that purpose. As a serving officer in World War Two and ...

The Old Feudalist

D.A.N. Jones, 3 July 1986

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass 
by Karen Blixen.
Penguin, 351 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 008533 5
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Out of Africa 
by Karen Blixen.
Century, 288 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1016 2
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Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen 
by Judith Thurman.
Penguin, 511 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 9780140096996
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... of sardonic, incredulous mirth. In his recent book about modern East Africa, The Rock of the Wind, Denis Hills remarks that ‘colonialist writings’ are often attacked in the Nairobi press – including, to his regret, Out of Africa. One African critic has observed: ‘There is no difference between the works of Shiva Naipaul and the literature of Karen ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones, 4 April 1985

The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... he made friends with two other able autobiographers, David Thomson, the future BBC producer, and Denis Hills, the African explorer, destined to be rescued by James Callaghan from the clutches of Idi Amin. Michael Wharton spent much of his term-time practising West Riding Knife Throwing with his mates, or drinking in the magical St Ebbes quarter ...

On the white strand

Denis Donoghue, 4 April 1991

The Selected Writings of Jack B. Yeats 
edited by Robin Skelton.
Deutsch, 246 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 233 98646 4
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... he felt there, fanned out within the reach of a long arm, stood all the round towers, the green hills, the mountains, the monuments, the little lakes, the little colleens by the lakes, the sea bays, the sea islands, the lake islands, the fiddles, the dancing floors, the shamrocks of the fields, the leaping salmon in the rivers. A warm sea of fancies ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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Coasting 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... Authority calls ‘Britain’s scenery’. The word is deadly accurate. The green and rolling hills, the packhorse bridges spanning silver brooks, are theatrical decorations, painted hangings to charm the eye. When people step out from behind the scenery, they are by definition actors, performing a play for the tourists’ entertainment. Britain goes into ...

Wounds

Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

Hemingway 
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... the text of the man, not of his art. As the writer and war correspondent William Walton said to Denis Brian, ‘a man who has spent all his life inventing fiction keeps on inventing it in his private life.’ The reaction started with the publication of Death in the Afternoon in 1932, the hero of which, as Kenneth Lynn cogently expresses it, is not ‘a ...

Resistance Days

Derek Mahon, 25 April 2002

... and Beau Geste, far from fake sheikhery and the coast hotels exploring qasba art in the lunar hills – ‘the best this side of China, I should say’. Of course, most things are different since his day: looking like Katie Tyrrell and the old folks in your own ‘sublimely gloomy’ Athy pix, as everywhere the filmable populations have now been framed in ...

In the Garden

Peter Campbell: Rampant Weeds, 26 April 2007

... the way furrow weeds do in Shakespeare, as images of disorder. New Zealand becomes a country, in Denis Glover’s Sings Harry, Where all around us ancient ills Devour like blackberry the hills. Blackberry can be seen putting out a shoot on the left of the picture on this page. It also reaches over the fence from the ...

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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... to grow tall what proud grace the juniper tree might show that flared, once, like fire along the hills. In their setting in Liberty Tree, these lines are just as ideological as the poem about Desertmartin. The proud grace adorns an epic past and a conjured future: it is the heroic version of the ‘plain Presbyterian grace’ gone sour in ...

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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... parts, ‘lovely Sodom’s sin’, a bout of tachycardia, sundry episodes in Brazil, Cuba, Beverly Hills, the Rosebowl at Pasadena, sex abroad. But the occasions that dominate his most telling poems are the old mortalities: in one poem, heartbreakingly, a dead child, in twenty poems or more a dead mother, a dying then dead father. Many of Harrison’s poems ...

I shall be read

Denis Feeney: Ovid’s Revenge, 17 August 2006

Ovid: The Poems of Exile: ‘Tristia’ and the ‘Black Sea Letters’ 
translated by Peter Green.
California, 451 pp., £12.95, March 2005, 0 520 24260 2
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Ovid: Epistulae ex Ponto, Book I 
translated and edited by Jan Felix Gaertner.
Oxford, 606 pp., £90, October 2005, 0 19 927721 4
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... after the lines quoted above: When I’m gone, my fame will endure, and while from her seven hills Mars’ Rome in triumph still surveys a conquered world, I shall be read. A major part of his strategy is to reproach the emperor by comparing his treatment with that of Augustus’ long-dead favourites, Virgil and Horace. For most of his career, an ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... the publication of this biography, and brought such champions of Wheldon’s reputation as Sir Denis Forman, Ludovic Kennedy and Melvyn Bragg trumpeting into the field. In common with other young men of his generation (he was born in 1916), Wheldon was slow to come to terms with his sexual drive. Sent to stay with a Westphalian family and learn German ...

Diary

Tom Paulin: In Donegal, 8 October 1992

... out at the blue enormous bay, its long curving marram strands, its islands and roshans and purple hills with the white quartzy dome of Errigal beyond – we stare out and agree that this must be one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. The moist light moves and zings like a Jack Yeats painting – in a different climate these immense empty strands ...

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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... and no window grieves for lovers turned away, for widows lonely. This is from ‘Deer on the High Hills – A Meditation’, one of Smith’s most exalted poems. These are mostly beautiful poems, elaborately and opulently profiled, but I wish Smith would trust his evidence to mean everything he wants it to mean, without adding italics for emphasis. He ...

Bloody Glamour

Tim Parks: Giuseppe Mazzini, 30 April 2009

Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalisation of Democratic Nationalism 1830-1920 
edited by C.A. Bayly and Eugenio Biagini.
Oxford, 419 pp., £45, September 2008, 978 0 19 726431 7
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... he was not present. Even discounting the fact that all the accounts we have of his life, including Denis Mack Smith’s authoritative 1994 volume, tend to hagiography, it’s clear that from the earliest age Mazzini was both physically attractive and immensely charismatic. Briefly united under Napoleon, Italy was returned in 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, to ...

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