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Edwin Williamson

18 May 1989
Collected Poems 1957-1987 
by Octavio Paz, edited by Eliot Weinberger.
Carcanet, 669 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 85635 787 1
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Sor Juana: Her Life and her World 
by Octavio Paz, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Faber, 547 pp., £27.50, November 1988, 0 571 15399 2
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ASor Juana Anthology 
translated by Alan Trueblood, with a foreword by Octavio Paz.
Harvard, 248 pp., £23.95, September 1988, 0 674 82120 3
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... Octavio Paz occupies a unique position in the Spanish-speaking world. He is the foremost living poet of the language as well as being one of the most authoritative interpreters of the Hispanic situation, a pensador in the tradition of Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, Rodo and Mariategui. Poetry, however, has always been the vital source of his ideas. His work as cultural historian, political essayist and ...

Don’t abandon me

Colm Tóibín: Borges and the Maids

11 May 2006
Borges: A Life 
by Edwin Williamson.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, August 2005, 0 14 024657 6
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... work of fiction Jorge Luis Borges ever produced was quite short: a mere 14 pages. It was called ‘The Congress’ and first published in 1971, although it had been on his mind for many years. EdwinWilliamson, in his biography of Borges, writes about the parallels between the story and El Caudillo. Borges sought in his story, according to Williamson, not only to mirror the novel his father wrote ‘but ...

Doubly Damned

Marina Warner: Literary riddles

8 February 2007
Enigmas and Riddles in Literature 
by Eleanor Cook.
Cambridge, 291 pp., £48, February 2006, 0 521 85510 1
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... of expression – the phrase comes from Alastair Fowler’s Kinds of Literature. Cook likens her enterprise to Terence Cave’s Recognitions and Leo Spitzer’s study of harmony (she might have added Edwin Honig’s Dark Conceit, an exploration of allegory) – topics of far greater salience and weight. For as she is keenly aware, her subject, like folklore, elicits mainly boredom, condescension and a ...

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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... Graham had at last ‘found his voice’, though the poet was always more interested in evicting himself from each new position gained. ‘What do I write to say? I don’t know,’ he complained to Edwin Morgan in an undated letter (probably from the early 1950s). ‘The kind of poem I want to write is very far away from even TNF’ – ‘The Nightfishing’ – ‘I know more about poetry than I ...

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