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Memories of New Zealand

Peter Campbell, 1 December 2011

... The pictures were prints: Franz Marc’s Tower of Blue Horses; a Monet of yachts on a river; Duncan Grant’s Dancers, a cornfield by John Nash. The one original was a watercolour by T.A. McCormack dominated by a Chinese fish plate. Over the years all this moved towards something prettier; the first impulse to modernity was not wholly ...

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger: Ten (More) Days in America, 25 October 2018

... He is referring to the FBI.*Pornography star Stormy Daniels provides a detailed description of Donald Trump’s penis. Although Trump had bragged about the size of his member in the primary debates and in campaign speeches, Daniels, based on her professional expertise, laughingly refutes this.*Hurricane Florence causes basins containing more than two ...

One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham, 4 October 2001

The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... US and Canada were marked by depression and drunken bad behaviour. Graham’s asceticism and what Donald Davie called ‘the hieratic solemnity’ with which he took his own poetic vocation could be both romantic and manipulative. The editors of these letters tell us that when Graham moved from Gurnard’s Head in 1962, he simply walked out of the ...

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount, 20 February 2020

... ban on Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network, and the bombardiers of Brexit – Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis, Liam Fox et al – are furious too. The industry points out that Huawei kit has already been installed in dozens of cities across the UK and to a more sophisticated standard than the US can currently provide. Ripping it all out would ...
... and Lonrho’s boss, Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland, in his Cheapside headquarters, and the editor, Donald Trelford. This began over an article Trelford wrote about atrocities in Zimbabwe. The main point made in 1982 was in line with evidence given to the Monopolies Commission by the paper’s former editor David Astor, by the chairman of the Observer Trust ...

Dysfunctional Troglodytes with Mail-Order Weaponry

Iain Sinclair: Edward Dorn, 11 April 2013

Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... this Bitch burn at my deliverance in the furnace of my joyful cremation. We were fortunate that Donald Davie, setting up an English Department at the University of Essex in 1965, invited Dorn to cross the Atlantic as a Fulbright lecturer. This was a pivotal episode for Dorn and for the mass of younger English poets who had heard rumours of Black Mountain ...

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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... fury of New Apocalypse. As for the Movement, two of its original New Lines members, Thom Gunn and Donald Davie, went off in directions undreamed of by Robert Conquest and still largely ignored by contemporary British poetry. Looking a little further, we find that Gunn and Davie between them do something that has still not been taken on board in Britain: they ...

There is only one Harrods

Paul Foot, 23 September 1993

Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon 
by Tom Bower.
Heinemann, 659 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 434 07339 3
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... as non-racist, pro-African and hostile to the illegal Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith. He lit upon Duncan Sandys, a slow-witted, racist, pro-Rhodesian right-wing Tory MP, described by another director as ‘bent ever since he was a lower boy at Eton’. Sandys was interested in chairing Lonrho for one reason only: the remuneration. He was already a consultant ...

Grand Old Sod

Paul Driver: William Walton, 12 December 2002

The Selected Letters of William Walton 
edited by Malcolm Hayes.
Faber, 526 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 571 20105 9
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William Walton: Muse of Fire 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 332 pp., £45, June 2001, 9780851158037
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William Walton, the Romantic Loner: A Centenary Portrait Album 
by Humphrey Burton and Maureen Murray.
Oxford, 182 pp., £25, January 2002, 0 19 816235 9
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... fleetingly evokes light-music classics by Anthony Collins (a notable conductor of Façade), Trevor Duncan or Ernest Tomlinson. In a sense (an uncharitable one) Walton is the greatest British composer of light music, transforming it at will but retaining its immediacy in a surprising variety of contexts. The popular-tune quality of Façade leads straight into ...

Snarly Glitters

August Kleinzahler: Roy Fisher, 20 April 2006

The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 
by Roy Fisher.
Bloodaxe, 400 pp., £12, June 2005, 1 85224 701 0
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... Fisher saw for the first time the work of the later William Carlos Williams, Basil Bunting, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Louis Zukofsky, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson and others. ‘I’d never seen poetry used as these people were, in their various ways, using it,’ Fisher remembered, ‘nor had I seen it treated as so vital an activity. These people were ...

‘Just get us out’

Ferdinand Mount, 21 March 2019

... Disney and Monty Python’. The king lapped it all up, and now so do the Jacob Rees-Moggs and Iain Duncan-Smiths, whose freedom to practise their Catholic faith is no thanks to Henry VIII. Today these harkings back are semi-playful, but under them lies an adamantine insistence that the white cliffs of the nation-state shall not be eroded by the splashings of ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 4 December 2014

Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... were pronounced. Harold Cohen was ‘never to be mentioned again. He is an ignorant person’, Donald Davie was a ‘wretch’, and R.B. Kitaj ‘one of the very worst painters of the century’. When words were insufficient, Finlay’s indignation broke out in truncated sound poems (‘Agh, agh, yah, boo, ach, och, yugh, pugh, poo, pshaw and dash ...

Nigels against the World

Ferdinand Mount: The EU Referendum, 19 May 2016

... with the support of other longstanding Eurosceptic ministers and former ministers, such as Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Lawson and David Owen. Then there’s Grassroots Out, which was supposed to bring the other two lots together. But the prospectus on offer has been muddied because the spokesmen within each organisation have had different ideas. Johnson in ...

Even When It’s a Big Fat Lie

Alex Abramovich: ‘Country Music’, 8 October 2020

Country Music 
directed by Ken Burns.
PBS, eight episodes
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... after white supremacists held their ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Donald Trump’s (then) chief of staff, John Kelly, went on Fox News and delivered a history lesson. ‘The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War,’ he said. ‘Men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had ...

What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham, 18 July 2019

W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
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W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
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... and portcullis,’ he said. He once wrote a sweetly affectionate letter to Ronnie and Henriette Duncan (‘Come my dearest dears’) and, having completed it, wrote vertically up the margin: ‘Do not read this letter as a softness. I am hard as fucking nails.’ You wonder how they took so bizarrely double-minded a letter. He could write very tenderly ...

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