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Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... its mark on Europe and America. An ancient city, a capital, with authors of all kinds, from Gavin Douglas to James Boswell to Annie S. Swan, Sir Compton Mackenzie and a thousand others: the subject is God’s own gift to the sifter of anecdotes and the historian of large-scale cultural change. Trevor Royle tackles it with affection and enthusiasm. Admirable ...

Douglas Hurd’s Tamworth Manifesto

Douglas Hurd, 17 March 1988

... of internal peace. Peel paved the way for the ‘One Nation’ Conservative Party. On the day on which he was buried the mills in the great cities stopped work, the shops closed and the flags of the merchant fleet in our harbours flew at half-mast. It is always a temptation to stretch the neat celebration of an anniversary beyond reasonable ...

Lowry’s Planet

Michael Hofmann, 27 January 1994

Pursued by Furies: A life of Malcolm Lowry 
by Gordon Bowker.
HarperCollins, 672 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 215539 7
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The Collected Poetry of Malcolm Lowry 
edited by Kathleen Scherf.
British Columbia, 418 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7748 0362 2
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... to me as ‘a great author who happened to have written only one great book’, in the words of Douglas Day, his first biographer. Faced with a three-book deal and the prospect of becoming his own assembly line, all he could think of was Under Under the Volcano. Robert Lowell writes: I memorised tricks to set the river on fire, somehow never wrote ...
... page 98 And 99, in the story called ‘Bliss’, Since the summer of ’62, its date, Its last day in a trap of pages. Prose Fly, what can ‘Je ne parle pas français’ mean To you who died in Scotland, when I closed These two sweet pages you were crushed between? Here is a green bus-ticket for one week In May, my place-mark in ‘The Dill Pickle’. I ...

Adele goes West

Mark Lambert, 17 September 1987

Anywhere but here 
by Mona Simpson.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7475 0017 7
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Herself in Love 
by Marianne Wiggins.
Collins, 184 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 00 223147 6
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Journey of the Wolf 
by Douglas Day.
Bodley Head, 235 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 370 31064 0
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Spanking the maid 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 102 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 434 14289 1
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A Night at the Movies, or, You must remember this 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 187 pp., £12.95, August 1987, 0 434 14390 1
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... with his family in Egypt. Her first husband leaves her and she leaves her second husband. On the day of her sister’s wedding, she decides to take a shower and locks the bathroom door for an hour or more, forcing full-bladdered wedding guests to leave the reception early. Driving to California with her daughter, she settles their various quarrels by ...


Douglas Oliver, 1 August 1996

... summit. Nearly caused war with Sudan; young Egyptian forearms writing out enlistment papers; one day there’s a youth’s flayed arms but no youth, green body tattering down in bomb ...

Two Poems

Douglas Oliver, 10 September 1992

... has the soul a pure core and a penumbra of ideas through which alone the shadowy events of every day come nearer the disc’s intense white centre? We go in, to watch Star Trek’s portentous races against time: a scientist looks at his daughter’s soil samples – their planet is dying; oh yes, their love is pure, as pure as I’d wish the daughter-love to ...

Taking stock of woods

Douglas Oliver, 17 December 1992

... and Green Man green and Green Party green, well, vote for it, vote for the green, and white of day confusing now the blue ...

Tough Guy

Ian Hamilton: Keith Douglas, 8 February 2001

Keith DouglasThe Letters 
edited by Desmond Graham.
Carcanet, 369 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 1 85754 477 3
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... Keith Douglas was 24 when he was killed in action, in 1944, and although quite a few of his poems had by then appeared in anthologies and magazines, he was not generally thought of as a significant ‘war poet’. But then, who was? ‘Where are the war poets?’ was a familiar journalistic cry from 1939 to 1945, and few answers were forthcoming ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... first two months of 1895 were busy for Oscar Wilde. In late January he was in Algiers with Alfred Douglas. He wrote to Robert Ross: ‘There is a great deal of beauty here. The Kabyle boys are quite lovely. At first we had some difficulty procuring a proper civilised guide. But now it is all right and Bosie and I have taken to haschish: it is quite ...


Brigid Brophy, 2 December 1982

Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side 
by Arnold Silver.
Stanford, 353 pp., $25, January 1982, 0 8047 1091 0
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Bernard Shaw and Alfred DouglasA Correspondence 
edited by Mary Hyde.
Murray, 237 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7195 3947 1
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... the declared puritan, it was perhaps easier to profess himself directly shocked by Freud. ‘Some day,’ he wrote in a magazine, ‘I will try to found a genuine psychology of fiction by writing down the history of my imagined life: duels, battles, love affairs with queens and all. The difficulty is that so much of it is too crudely erotic to be printable by ...

Too Young

James Davidson: Lord Alfred Douglas, 21 September 2000

Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas 
by Douglas Murray.
Hodder, 374 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 340 76770 7
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... whore’. Robbie Ross, guardian of Wilde’s memory, was a favourite target. At a party in 1912, Douglas (now 42 years of age) made a noisy entrance, strode across the room and declared ‘you are nothing but a bugger and a blackmailer.’ Ross ran into another room. Bosie pursued him, still shouting, and lunged at him. Luckily, a table intervened and Ross ...

Crimes of Passion

Sam Sifton, 11 January 1990

Missing Beauty: A True Story of Murder and Obsession 
by Teresa Carpenter.
Hamish Hamilton, 478 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 241 12775 0
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Wasted: The Preppie Murder 
by Linda Wolfe.
Simon and Schuster, 303 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 671 64184 0
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... Decent people, Teresa Carpenter would assert, aren’t always what they seem. In 1982 William Douglas was working as a cell biologist at Tufts University near Boston, Massachusetts. He was an associate professor on the tenure track, a gifted scientist, and a successful grant-getter. He was married and he lived a quiet suburban life just outside the city with his wife and three children ...

My Friend Sam

Jane Miller, 16 August 1990

The rock cried out 
by Ellen Douglas.
Virago, 303 pp., £5.99, June 1990, 1 85381 140 8
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Can’t quit you, baby 
by Ellen Douglas.
Virago, 256 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 1 85381 149 1
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... The landscape of Ellen Douglas’s Mississippi is designed to keep us out, to resist recognition; and the lines of its knobs and bluffs and ridges may be deciphered only by those who have been born and bred amongst them. For the rest of us they are edged but also obscured by lovingly named plants, by smilax, trillium, scuppernog vines and plum thickets ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... Ann Douglas’s The Feminisation of American Culture, first published in 1977, now appears in Britain at the same moment as its long-delayed successor, Terrible Honesty. Looking back at the earlier book, Douglas remarks that her ‘excavation and re-evaluation of American feminine 19th-century literature’ has been continued by many other historians, mostly women, who have rebelled against what she calls, in tones more civil than those of some of her successors, a literary canon consisting ‘of almost exclusively male-authored, conspicuously shaped and achieved works ...

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