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Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Ralph Freedman.
Farrar, Straus, 640 pp., $35, March 1996, 0 374 18690 1
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Uncollected Poems 
by Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Snow.
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus, 266 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 86547 482 6
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Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’: Cambridge Readings 
edited by Roger Paulin and Peter Hutchinson.
Duckworth/Ariadne, 237 pp., £30, March 1996, 1 57241 032 9
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... they were finished, speaking of himself, as late as 1915, as ‘a beginner who can’t begin’. Edward Snow, in his Introduction to Uncollected Poems, calls this ‘sheer mythologising’, and reminds us that Rilke wrote poems prolifically and all the time – ‘in letters, in guest books, in presentation copies, and above all in the notebooks ...

The Great Percy

C.H. Sisson, 18 November 1982

Stranger and Brother: A Portrait of C.P. Snow 
by Philip Snow.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 32680 6
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... It is perhaps unkind to disturb the ashes of C. P. Snow. They have so recently been placed in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he is commemorated beside John Milton. There is occasion to take a look at them, nonetheless, for we now have this account of the man by his brother, Philip Snow ...

A Writer’s Fancy

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1980

Hackenfeller’s Ape 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 125 pp., £5.50, October 1980, 0 85031 314 7
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Flesh 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 124 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 9780850313185
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The Snow Ball 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 143 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 0 85031 316 3
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... things. Like her greatly admired Jane Austen, she is ‘a Writer of Fancy’, and in The Snow Ball (1964) considerably more fanciful than Jane Austen ever was. And considerably more baroque than in her recent novel Palace without Chairs, which, though subtitled ‘A Baroque Novel’, is more fairly described as a shrewd quasi-fairy-tale about the ...

Take that white thing away

Nicholas Spice, 17 October 1985

The Good Apprentice 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 522 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3000 8
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... daughter Bettina to ‘go away for a moment, and keep the others out’. But the others come in: Edward Baltram, who is Harry Cuno’s stepson; Stuart Cuno, Harry’s elder son by a previous marriage; Ilona Baltram, Bettina’s sister; and lastly, Jesse Baltram himself. The climax of this scene, which is itself the great comic dénouement of The Good ...

Were I a cloud

Patricia Beer, 28 January 1993

Robert Bridges: A Biography 
by Catherine Phillips.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 212251 7
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... were battered to death and she herself was so badly injured that she died within the year. His son Edward fought in the thick of the First World War and was badly wounded. His daughter Margaret died agonisingly of tubercular meningitis. His house burnt down. His wife Monica, a woman of spirit and intelligence, was physically delicate and the constant prey of ...

Dynasties

Antonia Fraser, 3 April 1980

The House of Stuart 
by Maurice Ashley.
Dent, 237 pp., £9.95, January 1980, 0 460 04458 3
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... were the ‘Tudor’ characteristics – those possessed in common by Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I? Ruthlessness? At first, that seems a promising answer. After all, even Edward VI before his premature death managed to exhibit his father’s notorious ‘frown’. Unfortunately, the ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated ...

Tang of Blood

Christian Lorentzen: Something to Do with Capitalism, 5 June 2014

... vice: Boots of working Londoners, horseshoes and cartwheels crunch through the fresh morning snow. Superbly drunk revellers weave amongst them three sheets to the wind, tacking vaguely homewards or on to the next tavern, bawling heartily and insensible to the cold and their frost-nipped noses. Glum prostitutes sheltering in the portal to Miss Kelly’s ...

How to be a queen

David Carpenter: She-Wolves, 15 December 2011

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England before Elizabeth 
by Helen Castor.
Faber, 474 pp., £9.99, July 2011, 978 0 571 23706 7
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... II; Isabella of France, who, with her lover, Roger Mortimer, deposed and murdered her husband, Edward II; and Margaret of Anjou, who, given that her husband, Henry VI, was incapable, demanded to rule as regent and then fought tenaciously for the succession of her son. Conventionally, these women would all be classified as ‘medieval’: Matilda and ...

Adrenaline Junkie

Jonathan Parry: John Tyndall’s Ascent, 21 March 2019

The Ascent of John Tyndall: Victorian Scientist, Mountaineer and Public Intellectual 
by Roland Jackson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 878895 9
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... he returned to London. The next day, confident conditions were improving, he set off again. The snow in France was thick and he didn’t reach Geneva until Christmas Eve. He then took a diligence to Sallanches, at the bottom of the track up to Chamonix, arriving at sunset to find, to his great surprise, that there was no sledge available for the formidable ...

In the Golfo Placido

P.N. Furbank, 9 October 1986

The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. II: 1898-1902 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 483 pp., £27.50, August 1986, 0 521 25748 4
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... endless discontent; with remorse, thrown in, for the massacre of so many good intentions.’ To Edward Garnett, 29 March 1898: ‘I assure you – speaking soberly and on my word of honour – that sometimes it takes all my resolution and power of self control to refrain from butting my head against the wall. I want to howl and foam at the mouth but I ...

The Vulgarity of Success

Murray Sayle: Everest and Empire, 7 May 1998

Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond 
by Peter Steele.
Constable, 290 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 09 478300 4
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... third) on Mount Everest. Mallory had given his lecture many times. At its end, regularly as snow falls on the Himalaya, someone would get up and ask: ‘But Mr Mallory, why are you trying to climb Mount Everest?’ Mallory had an answer as clean-cut as himself at the ready: ‘We hope to show that the spirit that built the British Empire is not yet ...

Heavy Sledding

Chauncey Loomis, 21 December 1989

The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 
by Pierre Berton.
Viking, 672 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 670 82491 7
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Overland to Starvation Cove: With the Inuit in Search of Franklin 1878-1880 
by Heinrich Klutschak and William Barr.
Toronto, 261 pp., £17.50, February 1988, 0 8020 5762 4
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Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition 
by Owen Beattie and John Geiger.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 7475 0101 7
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... lives and defined personalities in his. At the very outset he demonstrates this skill. There is Edward Parry, son of a cultivated and fashionable doctor in Bath – well-educated, intelligent, pious – a team-player very quick to use his charm and his connections to his own advantage, but also courageous and steadfast. There is John Ross, Parry’s ...

Looking away

Michael Wood, 18 May 1989

First Light 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 328 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 241 12498 0
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The Chymical Wedding 
by Lindsay Clarke.
Cape, 542 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 224 02537 6
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The Northern Lights 
by Howard Norman.
Faber, 236 pp., £4.99, April 1989, 0 571 15474 3
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... for the grotesque – as if he had abandoned Wilde for George Eliot but had found only C. P. Snow. Martha, for example, one of the archaeologists, is a large and ‘deceptively jolly’ woman who manages to sound pleasant and cheerful while sowing discreet seeds of discord all over the place. This is an interesting gift, as Ackroyd says, but Martha ...

A Long Forgotten War

Jenny Diski: Sheila Rowbotham, 6 July 2000

Promise of a Dream: A Memoir of the 1960s 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Allen Lane, 262 pp., £18.99, July 2000, 0 7139 9446 0
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... lost its dreaming capacity, though I confess that her title whirls me back to a Disney world of Snow Whites and Sleeping Beauties. Surely, Promise of a Dream was warbled by one of those over-articulating sopranos while Cinders waltzed in the arms of her prince-to-be? Oh no, it was ‘A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes’, which is in much the same ...

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