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Pareto and Elitism

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 July 1980

The Other Pareto 
edited by Placido Bucolo.
Scolar, 308 pp., £15, April 1980, 0 85967 516 5
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by G. Lowell Field and John Higley.
Routledge, 135 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7100 0487 7
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Elites in Australia 
by John Higley and Don Smart.
Routledge, 317 pp., £9.50, July 1979, 9780710002228
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... which led to it, of a weak middle class, now has little to be said for it. This is not, as Lowell Field and John Higley point out in their brief and bluff tract, because it is unarguably true that representative democracy works on an agreed middle ground. As John Plamenatz insisted several years ago, representative democracy does not by itself ...


Ian Hamilton, 1 October 1987

The Haw-Lantern 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 52 pp., £7.95, June 1987, 0 571 14780 1
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... afforded by the Roman Church – a Church to which Heaney, even in his twenties, continued to go for confession and which ‘permeated’ the whole life of his Northern Ireland childhood. Thanks to this Church, its doctrines and its rituals, Heaney’s sensibility was from the start centred in relation to what he calls a ‘feminine presence’. It was ...

Wobble in My Mind

Colm Tóibín: Lizzie, Cal and Caroline, 7 May 2020

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-79: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell and Their Circle 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 560 pp., £35, January, 978 0 571 35741 3
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The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972-73 
by Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., £11.99, December 2019, 978 0 374 53827 9
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... In April​ 1970, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick – both aged 53, married for 21 years – had just been on holiday together in Italy with their 13-year-old daughter, Harriet. Hardwick and Harriet had come home to New York, where Hardwick taught at Barnard College; Lowell had gone to Oxford to take up a fellowship at All Souls ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman, 2 July 2015

The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... There is a tall who loves only him. She has sworn ‘Blue to you forever, Gray to the little rat, go to bed.’ I fink it’s bads all over.It ends: Henry and Mabel ought to but can’t. Childness let’s have us honey –‘It set the prosodic pattern,’ Berryman told the interviewer, Peter Stitt, who had been a student of his a few years earlier. The ...

Petal by Petal

C.K. Stead, 27 May 1993

E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962 
edited by George Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £33, January 1993, 0 87140 145 2
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... Brancusi), the new music (Satie, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Scriabin), the new literature (Amy Lowell, Stein, Pound, Eliot, Joyce), and was bold enough to give a graduation address in 1915 referring to most of these and insisting on ‘the unbroken chain of artistic development during the last hall-century’ which ‘disproved the theory that Modernism ...

Terrible to be alive

Julian Symons, 5 December 1991

Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... not fail him. Jarrell became critic, adviser and friend of the best poets in his own generation, Lowell and Berryman among them. ‘He was Randall Jarrell/ and wrote a-many books – he wrote well,’ run a couple of pretty bad lines in a Berryman ‘Dream Song’. Lowell also paid tribute to his friend’s passionately ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 June 2015

New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... Robert Lowell​ has a poem called ‘Picture in The Literary Life, a Scrapbook’ which begins: A mag photo, I before I was I, or my books – a listener … A cheekbone gumballs out my cheek; too much live hair.Not knowing the photo of Lowell, I go instead to the picture of Seamus Heaney on the front of the companion volume to this one, New Selected Poems 1966-87, painfully young, worried-looking, Noh-rice-flour-pale, against a dark brick wall ...

The Price

Dan Jacobson: The concluding part of Dan Jacobson’s interview with Ian Hamilton, 21 February 2002

... the second part of a two-part interview. Part 2: ‘The Price’. I want to ask you about Robert Lowell: as an influence on your work, that is, and only then as what he later became – a ‘Life’, the subject of your first full-length biography. You did and do admire him greatly as a poet, yet in his poetic practice didn’t he trample all over the ...

Door Closing!

Mark Ford: Randall Jarrell, 21 October 2010

Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy 
by Randall Jarrell.
Chicago, 277 pp., £10.50, April 2010, 978 0 226 39375 9
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... power to read, and to talk about his reading, with the excitement of a child. ‘Child Randall’, Lowell addresses him, inevitably, in the second of his sonnets for Jarrell, the one that restages his friend’s peculiar death (Jarrell was sideswiped by a car in the course of an evening walk): black-gloved, black-coated, you plod out stubbornly as if in ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... get to Vorticism, with which Pound was hoping to render Imagism – now led by his arch-enemy Amy Lowell – passé, a question irresistibly presents itself. When a poet has made it his life’s work to change a period’s style, and pursues his aim by means of confrontation and relentless promotion of his own work and that of his coterie, does style really ...

Dante’s Mastery

Gabriel Josipovici, 21 August 1980

by George Holmes.
Oxford, 104 pp., £95, April 1980, 0 19 287504 3
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The Divine Comedy: A New Verse Translation 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 455 pp., £8.95, April 1980, 9780856352737
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... good Augustus ‘at the time of the false and lying gods’. Only after he has said this does he go on to explain what he did in life: ‘I was a poet, and I sang of that just son of Anchises who came from Troy after proud Ilium was burned.’ At this point Dante can contain himself no longer: Are you then that Virgil and that fountain Which pours forth so ...


John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... Hamilton came to biography late and triumphantly with his life of the dead but still warm Robert Lowell. Riding high, he went on to attempt an unauthorised life of the aged but very much alive J.D. Salinger and was comprehensively outfoxed by the second most reclusive man in American letters. Hamilton wrote up his experience as a rueful memoir, In Search of ...

The Mouth, the Meal and the Book

Christopher Ricks, 8 November 1979

Field Work 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1979, 0 571 11433 4
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... trusting and tasting. Both the first and this last poem in the book speak of ‘my tongue’. Field Work is alive with trust (how else would field work be possible?), and it could have been created only by an experienced poet secure in the grounded trust that he is trusted. Heaney is the most trusted poet of our ...


Zoë Heller: Ronald Reagan, 2 March 2000

Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 874 pp., £24.99, October 1999, 0 00 217709 9
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... sensed that he was reacting to sound rather than sight’) and ‘lynx-like momentum’ on the field. A little later on, he comes across Reagan working as a lifeguard at Lowell Park Beach and accumulates more elaborately detailed information about his physical build, his swimming stroke and his taste in books. At Eureka ...

Two Jackals on a Leash

Jamie McKendrick: Eugenio Montale, 1 July 1999

Eugenio Montale: Collected Poems 1920-54 
translated by Jonathan Galassi.
Carcanet, 626 pp., £29, November 1998, 1 85754 425 0
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... spirit on all sides and proclaim it in letters of fire to shine like a lone crocus in a dusty field. Ah, the man who walks secure, a friend to others and himself, indifferent that high summer prints his shadow on a peeling wall! Don’t ask us for the phrase that can open worlds, just a few gnarled syllables, dry like a branch. This, today, is all ...

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