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3 December 1992
The Power of News: The History of Reuters 
by Donald Read.
Oxford, 330 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 19 821776 5
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... driver passing by. Thus the imperial nature of Reuters is at once established in the mind of the reader. The best picture of all, though, was taken in 1935 during the Abyssinian War. In a rubbish-strewn street sits a calm-looking European in tie and double-breasted suit working at a typewriter on a small table, a pen sticking out of his breast ...

Sire of the Poor

Linda Colley

17 March 1988
Victorian Values and 20th-Century Condescension 
by Gertrude Himmelfarb.
Centre for Policy Studies, 15 pp., £2.20, August 1987, 1 870265 10 6
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Peel and the Victorians 
by Donald Read.
Blackwell, 330 pp., £27.50, August 1987, 0 631 15725 5
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Suicide in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Olive Anderson.
Oxford, 475 pp., £40, July 1987, 9780198201014
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... Smiles that they were a recipe for individual advancement. This is fair enough, and is indeed already something of a historical commonplace on this side of the Atlantic. More problematic, however, is Himmelfarb’s contention that ‘a single standard of values was conducive to a single culture, a single society – and a single nation’. Can we really ...

Men at forty

Derek Mahon

21 August 1980
Selected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 137 pp., £3.50, May 1980, 0 85646 058 3
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Exactions 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 80 pp., £2.95, April 1980, 0 85635 332 9
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... The first poem by Donald Justice I ever read was the much anthologised sestina, ‘Here in Katmandu’: We have climbed the mountain, There’s nothing more to do ... It seemed to me then, and seems to me now, a beautiful and mysterious object, resonant and yet resistant to paraphrase ...

The Sentence

Donald Hall

18 July 1996
... family jokes,   I lay awake, repeating a sentence over and over   in my head: It was as if I read it in a book: ‘Then, when   he was only nine years old, “Death became a ...

Old America

W.C. Spengemann

7 January 1988
Look homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe 
by David Herbert Donald.
Bloomsbury, 579 pp., £16.95, April 1987, 0 7475 0004 5
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From this moment on: America in 1940 
by Jeffrey Hart.
Crown, 352 pp., $19.95, February 1987, 9780517557419
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... seem more concerned to compute the past than to connect it with the present, the histories that readers remember and long to reread are usually those which treat their subjects – no matter how remote – as places the writers remember and long to revisit. Historical nostalgia need not imply a desire simply to flee the ...
7 November 1985
The Inman Diary: A Public and Private Confession 
edited by Daniel Aaron.
Harvard, 1661 pp., £35.95, March 1986, 0 674 45445 6
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... Hall. For as many as sixteen hours of a normal day he would stay in bed, when not sitting or reading in the bathroom. The rooms he frequented were kept shaded for the same reason his car was painted a dull black: to protect his eyes from glare. He suffered periodically from nose bleeds, hay fever, arthritis, influenza, a slipping rib cage, migraine ...

Edgar and Emma

John Sutherland

20 February 1986
World’s Fair 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 275 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2685 8
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The Adventures of Robina 
edited by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 571 13796 2
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... flouts the traditional customs of his craft. He is known to love tricks which victimise his reader. (Often these take the form of buried literary allusion.) Legerdemain is, it would seem, the Doctorovian badge of authorship. The trait was evidently inherited. In World’s Fair, Edgar goes on at some length about his father’s love of language games and ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie

1 July 1982
Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... Phyllis Koestenbaum, Barbara Moore, David MacSweeney (one out of two), Randall Garrison, Donald Stallybrass, Ellery Akers, Peter Abbs, John Hodgen, Andrew Motion, Edwin Drummond, Gregory Harrison, Gordon Mason and Robert Ballard, Isabel Nathaniel and Peter Didsbury, Anthony Edkins and Brian Cosgrove. Several get prizes, and in particular Andrew ...

Poetry Inc.

Christopher Reid

18 September 1986
A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Donald Prater.
Oxford, 472 pp., £25, March 1986, 9780198157557
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Letters: Summer 1926 
by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva and Rainer Maria Rilke, edited by Yevgeny Pasternak and Yelena Pasternak.
Cape, 251 pp., £15, May 1986, 0 224 02376 4
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... To read Donald Prater’s biography of Rilke in the hope of getting to know the poet in depth would be a tantalising exercise. Lack of information is not the problem. There is no shortage of documentary evidence available to the investigator and Prater has made full use of it. Rilke himself supplied his large share in letters of a princely egocentricity, upon which he appears to have lavished a formidable outlay of time and creative energy ...

Bloom’s Bible

Donald Davie

13 June 1991
The Book of J 
translated by David Rosenberg, interpreted by Harold Bloom.
Faber, 286 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 571 16111 1
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... than national treasure, never to be surpassed. And yet everyone we listen to, down to those who read the lessons in our parish church, proceeds on the assumption that this allegedly unsurpassable text can be, and needs to be, surpassed. Everyone who undertakes to interpret the Scriptures, however modestly, begins by offering an alternative ...
22 May 1980
Trying to Explain 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 213 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 85635 343 4
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... fact of being everywhere a foreigner was probably an assistance to his native wit.’ And Donald Davie, who everywhere has his native wits about him, has he profited much from living abroad? In half-praise of George Steiner, Davie floats ‘a tradition of high-flying speculation about literature, which we costive islanders cannot afford not to profit ...
29 September 1988
... lovestruck at University. They were in very free measures, and, indeed, very free syntax. I had read enough modern poetry by then to convince myself that rhyme and metre were passé, and that, anyway, the fierce and miserable beating of my heart was not to be contained by what Frost, I believe, called, with seeming disparagement, ‘rhymey-dimey ...
28 May 1992
Outerbridge Reach 
by Robert Stone.
Deutsch, 409 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 223 98774 3
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... narrative. ‘A Hall of Mirrors was something I shattered my youth against,’ Stone has said and, reading it, you can believe that. The narrow subject is right-wing extremism and race hatred in the American South. Its larger purpose is to bring back the news of the pop-apocalyptic cultural revolution ripping through America. Dog Soldiers (1974) is Vietnam ...

Biographical Materials

Alan Hollinghurst

15 October 1981
Remembering Britten 
edited by Alan Blyth.
Hutchinson, 181 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 09 144950 2
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Britten and Auden in the Thirties: The Year 1936 
by Donald Mitchell.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.50, February 1981, 0 571 11715 5
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... Donald Mitchell recalls that Benjamin Britten had a low opinion of music critics in newspapers. Alan Blyth’s compilation Remembering Britten would have done little to make him change his mind: it is a book fundamentally misconceived and often grotesque in execution. The tributary volume of memoirs, such as the one Stephen Spender compiled after Auden’s death, has the value not only of illuminating its subject but of providing a complex shading of reaction and relation through the personalities of the contributors ...

A Short History of the Trump Family

Sidney Blumenthal: The First Family

16 February 2017
... The​ most enduring blight left behind by Donald Trump, long after he has smashed things up, will be the pile of books devoted to trying to make sense of him. It will grow after investigative journalists have spent years diving for hidden records, exploring subterranean corporations and foreign partners but never reaching the dark ocean bottom ...

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