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Oh, My Aching Back

Roy Porter, 2 November 1995

The History of Pain 
by Roselyne Rey, translated by Elliott Wallace and J.A. Cadden , and S.W. Cadden.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.50, October 1995, 0 674 39967 6
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... From the Church Fathers, through St Ignatius Loyola and Pascal to the Marquis de Sade, the problem of pain was agonisingly debated, not least because mortification was holiness and judicial torture the authorised engine of truth. But nowadays, pain, in either its medical or its metaphysical aspects, is oddly little discussed given the ubiquitous misery it causes ...

Among the Picts

John Sutherland, 18 August 1994

Stained Radiance: A Fictionist’s Prelude 
by J. Leslie Mitchell.
Polygon, 219 pp., £7.95, July 1993, 0 7486 6141 7
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The Speak of the Mearns 
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Polygon, 268 pp., £8.95, June 1994, 0 7486 6167 0
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... readers. Shamefully, he has no entry in the DNB, a distinction he yields to such maestri as Edgar Wallace and Elinor Glyn. As a one-man great tradition, Gibbon labours under disabilities, of which being Scottish in an English-dominated culture is the heaviest. ‘Of peasant rearing and peasant stock’, he was brought up on a farm near Stonehaven. Gibbon left ...

Slice of Life

Colin Burrow: Robin Robertson, 30 August 2018

The Long Take 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, February 2018, 978 1 5098 4688 7
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... awards more usually given to works in prose: Ros Barber’s The Marlowe Papers took the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2013 and Sarah Crossan’s One (about conjoined twins) carried off the Carnegie in 2016. These are good omens for The Long Take, which has been long-listed for the Man Booker this year. The Long Take is not just a verse novel, it’s a historical ...

Happy Man

Paul Driver: Stravinsky, 8 February 2007

Stravinsky: The Second Exile – France and America 1934-71 
by Stephen Walsh.
Cape, 709 pp., £30, July 2006, 0 224 06078 3
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Down a Path of Wonder: Memoirs of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Other Cultural Figures 
by Robert Craft.
Naxos, 560 pp., £19.99, October 2006, 1 84379 217 6
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... final masterpiece, Requiem Canticles (1966), which has the wintry radiance of late poems by Wallace Stevens – owe their existence to a significant extent to the presence of Craft, as Walsh repeatedly makes clear. His role as intellectual catalyst, encourager and amanuensis was as indispensable as it is exceptional in musical history. It was through ...

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