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Smartened Up

Ian Hamilton

9 March 1995
Louis MacNeice: A Biography 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Faber, 538 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 571 16019 0
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... Why did Louis MacNeice have to wait thirty years for a biography? He died comparatively young – aged 55 – and was outlived by almost everyone he knew: wives, girlfriends, classmates, colleagues. He led an active public life, had two careers – in universities and with the BBC – and was well known as a poet from quite early on ...

Are we any better?

Gisela Striker

19 August 1993
Shame and Necessity 
by Bernard Williams.
California, 254 pp., £25, May 1993, 0 520 08046 7
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... narrow sense. Bernard Williams rightly and proudly points to the precedent of one of his teachers, E.R. Dodds, whose The Greeks and the Irrational, published in 1951, remains one of the glories of the series. When Williams says in the preface to his own lectures that he is not primarily a Classical scholar, this is not meant as an apology: it simply tells ...
20 August 1992
Origins of the Sacred: The Ecstasies of Love and War 
by Dudley Young.
Little, Brown, 379 pp., £16.99, May 1992, 0 356 20628 9
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... The ‘Glory that was Greece’ has had a hard time recently. Big guns have been drawn up against our accustomed admiration of the Greek genius, our collusive Philhellenism. It is very heavy artillery indeed. First, Martin Bernal’s enormous Black Athena (two volumes already, with two more to come) – a brave piece of iconoclasm that questions not only the primacy of the Greek cultural achievement over its Near-Eastern, Semitic and African neighbours, but also the bigotry and racism sheltering under the authority of ‘traditional’ Classical scholarship ...
2 December 1982
Blood for the Ghosts: Classical Influences in the 19th and 20th Centuries 
by Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Duckworth, 312 pp., £24, May 1982, 0 7156 1500 9
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Classical Survivals: The Classics in the Modern World 
by Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Duckworth, 184 pp., £18, May 1982, 0 7156 1517 3
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History of Classical Scholarship 
by U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, translated by Alan Harris.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £18, February 1982, 0 7156 0976 9
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... lectures and obituaries assembled in Hugh Lloyd-Jones’s two volumes, two were published in the year before he assumed the Regius Professorship of Greek in the University of Oxford, one was his Inaugural Lecture of 1960, and the remainder were written subsequently. I say this not as a ...

Defence of poetry

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

3 July 1980
Enemies of Poetry 
by W.B. Stanford.
Routledge, 181 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0460 5
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The Idea of a Theatre: the Greek Experience 
by M.I. Finley.
British Museum, 16 pp., £95, February 1980, 0 7141 1267 4
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... Professor Stanford, who this year retires from the Regius Chair of Greek at Trinity College, Dublin after 40 years in office, feels that ‘creative literature is being used more and more as material for history or archaeology or psychology.’ He therefore sets out to defend the poetic element in literature against disparagement and neglect ...

Straight Talk

Mary Beard

9 February 1995
Marginal Comment 
by Kenneth Dover.
Duckworth, 271 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7156 2630 2
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... had leaked part of the typescript of his book to the Evening Standard, who, on the scent of celebrity masturbation, had splashed (under the headline ‘Oxford Don Takes Memoirs In Hand’) his account of a ‘strange occasion’ in 1944 in the Italian hills. The beauty of the day, the blue sky and the snow ‘struck directly at my penis, so I sat down on a ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice

7 February 2008
Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... who starts well in the 1930s, but whose development, as MacNeice explains in a note, ‘is interrupted by the war . . . Subsequent interruptions and frustrations include those occasioned by the lure of commercial art, by drink, money troubles and women.’ Hence the title of the play. Hank (an anagram of Khan) might ...

What kept Hector and Andromache warm in windy Troy?

David Simpson: ‘Vehement Passions’

19 June 2003
The Vehement Passions 
by Philip Fisher.
Princeton, 268 pp., £18.95, May 2002, 0 691 06996 4
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... a withering dismissal of the ancients, whose defects he found ‘nowhere more apparent than in their writings on the passions’, writings so ‘meagre and for the most part so implausible’ that he could only write as if ‘I were considering a topic that no one had dealt with before me’. His own psychology, which depended on a fluid mechanics whereby ...
21 July 1983
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays 
by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Christopher Tolkien .
Allen and Unwin, 240 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 04 809019 0
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TheRoad to Middle-Eart
by T.A. Shippey.
Allen and Unwin, 252 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 04 809018 2
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Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode 
 by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Alan Bliss.
Allen and Unwin, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 04 829003 3
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... is the aspect of his work that W.H. Auden chose to commemorate in a genial poem. What interests the reading public is the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Practitioners of Tolkien’s academic subject often deplore this fact, but posterity’s judgment does him no great injustice. The energies devoted to ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray

20 January 2000
Thackeray 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... you and I are but a pair of infinite isolations, with some fellow islands a little more or less near to us.’ Above all, though, Thackeray was averse to having his skeletons rattled by any intruding hand. What were they? He contracted venereal disease at Cambridge, failed to get a degree, lost his patrimony ...

Apollo’s Ethylene

Peter Green: Delphi

2 July 2014
Delphi: A History of the Centre of the Ancient World 
by Michael Scott.
Princeton, 422 pp., £19.95, February 2014, 978 0 691 15081 9
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... found it, like modern Switzerland, a useful place to exchange political information and conduct secret negotiations. Its wealthy religious dedications and treasuries, made by leaders from all over the Mediterranean world, from Cyprus to Marseille, brought celebrities, consultants and ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice

3 March 2011
Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... Louis MacNeice’s influence is everywhere in contemporary poetry, in its forms and in its forms of engagement. Certain strands in his work – questions of identity, nationality, responsibility – became, with the advent of the Troubles, critically important to a celebrated generation of Northern Irish poets, poets like Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and Muldoon ...
7 August 1980
Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... longer works, like his Autumn Journal and Autumn Sequel and many of his radio plays, run the risk of monotony and a kind of narcissism. And yet MacNeice’s radio plays of the post-war period, which he produced himself, are commonly cited as the best creative work done for the medium in its twenty-year heyday, before ...
6 November 1986
Tribute to Freud 
by H. D.
Carcanet, 194 pp., £5.95, August 1985, 0 85635 599 2
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In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism 
edited by Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane.
Virago, 291 pp., £11.95, October 1985, 0 86068 712 0
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The Essentials of Psychoanalysis 
by Sigmund Freud, edited by Anna Freud.
Hogarth/Institute of Psychoanalysis, 595 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 7012 0720 5
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Freud and the Humanities 
edited by Peregrine Horden.
Duckworth, 186 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 7156 1983 7
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Freud for Historians 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.50, January 1986, 0 19 503586 0
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The Psychoanalytic Movement 
by Ernest Gellner.
Paladin, 241 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 586 08436 3
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The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art 
by Leo Bersani.
Columbia, 126 pp., $17.50, April 1986, 0 231 06218 4
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... interpretative coercion that went on at 19 Berggasse under the name of science. To an alarming degree, theory preempted argument. H.D. had been abandoned by her husband, Richard Aldington, for another woman, during a difficult pregnancy in which mother and child seemed doomed; her love affair with the feminist Bryher was ...
6 July 1995
The Double Tongue 
by William Golding.
Faber, 160 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 0 571 17526 0
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... Macbeth, having at last rumbled his oracles, says they palter with him in a double sense, and early Christian writers believed something like this of the pagan oracles; to them the old gods and their communications were simply demonic. The pagans themselves were of course aware that oracles spoke ambiguously, though ...

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