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High Priest of Mumbo-Jumbo

R.W. Johnson, 13 November 1997

Lord Hailsham: A Life 
by Geoffrey Lewis.
Cape, 403 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 224 04252 1
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... help ‘many slightly muddled, BBC-battered people to see things more clearly’.) The title of Geoffrey Lewis’s biography could have been ‘Quintin Hogg’, ‘Quintin Hailsham’ or just ‘Hailsham’. No one, after all, would dream of writing a biography of, say, Harold Wilson and calling it ‘Lord Wilson’ because deep down we know that was ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... Geoffrey Grigson’s best poem, and the type of his best poetry, is ‘His Swans’. Evidently and justly, he thinks well enough of it to put it in the Faber Book of Reflective Verse as his sole exhibit: Remote music of his swans, their long Necks ahead of them, slow Beating of their wings, in unison, Traversing serene Grey wide blended horizontals Of endless sea and sky ...

A Review of Grigson’s Verse

Graham Hough, 7 August 1980

History of Him 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 96 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 436 18841 4
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... Thoughtful as always about how to win friends and influence people, Geoffrey Grigson in his latest book of poems congratulates himself that his elderly eyes If they remain alert Do the more easily recognise Squirming in his primal dirt Another verse-reviewing squirt. Well, it is nice to know where we stand, and after that rousing salute the most scrupulous reviewer need not be afraid of disturbing cultural harmony or bruising the petals of a sensitive plant ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... her manuscript). The American critic Albert Gelpi’s acknowledgments in his new book on C. Day Lewis are typically strange. Gelpi has made his name writing about the history of 19th and 20th-century American poetry and poetics. For a critic whose most recent publications include an edition of Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose(1993), a book about Day ...

Poet-in-Ordinary

Samuel Hynes, 22 May 1980

C. Day-LewisAn English Literary Life 
by Sean Day-Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 333 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 297 77745 9
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... praising him for unremembered virtues, like Hamlet. So the first thing to be said about Sean Day-Lewis’s biography of his father is that he is neither an Edmund nor a Hamlet. He has written a calm and generous book, free of either rancour or special pleading, a book that carries a convincing sense of objectivity. The book does two things that a good ...

Sisters

John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... like marriage, sexual happiness or career success are scaled into insignificance. Thus in ‘Geoffrey and the Eskimo Child’, originally published in this journal, we trace in 18 pages the 18 years of Geoffrey and Tania’s marriage. In 1962 he gets an LSE first in the then fashionable social sciences. They ...

The Braver Thing

Christopher Ricks, 1 November 1984

T.S. Eliot 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 241 11349 0
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Recollections Mainly of Artists and Writers 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Chatto, 195 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 7011 2791 0
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... That it is a feat to be without spite is coincidentally manifested by the appearance of Geoffrey Grigson’s Recollections. Grigson’s jacket proffers, as a representative gnome: ‘I never heard T.S. Eliot laugh.’ Back in the book this stands on its lordly own in a section of ‘Items’. Some have never heard ...

Burlington Bertie

Julian Symons, 14 June 1990

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 364 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 297 81042 1
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... whose views about art differed deeply from his own. He was overwhelmed on first meeting Wyndham Lewis, called him ‘a great and scandalously ignored painter’, and as late as 1932 said Lewis was ‘by far the most active force among us’. But he nursed feelings of resentment that his admiration was not ...

Hierophants

Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis, 6 September 2007

C. Day-LewisA Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... in Roy Campbell’s spiteful caricature ‘MacSpaunday’ (MacNeice, Spender, Auden and Day-Lewis), a composite creature marked by its blend of glib Marxism, shameless self-advertising and large quantities of indifferent verse. As the popular label for the period suggests, Auden was from the start the dominating presence, and poetically he increasingly ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... prided himself on being the only person who could claim the friendship of those arch-enemies C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot. Lewis and Williams both aimed at the disruption of the realist novel though the use of erudite fantasy, drawing on Dante and Plato and Milton; they wanted to make contemporary England ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... Portrait of Zélide (Benjamin Constant’s mistress, Mme de Charrière) by Wharton’s friend Geoffrey Scott – Mainwaring’s Mysteries is the product of long and deep digging in all kinds of likely and unlikely places. And in this dogged quest, she has been driven by motives quite as mixed and dark as anything in Eugène Sue’s sensational Mystères ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 October 1983

In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... was an organised romantic. He made a profession of cards, fought in France, and used a leave on Lewis to create a constituency association to nominate him for the Western Isles. He eventually reached the House from western Enfield, and when Churchill heard him beat Bevan on the floor with facts, was at once propelled into Health. The two Labour men were ...

Initiatives

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 15 November 1984

Social Scientist as Innovator 
by Michael Young.
Abt Books, 265 pp., $28, April 1984, 0 89011 593 1
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Revolution from Within: Co-operatives and Co-operation in British Industry 
by Michael Young and Marianne Rigge.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78234 7
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Dilemmas of Liberal Democracies: Studies in Fred Hirsch’s ‘Social Limits to Growth’ 
edited by Adrian Ellis and Krishan Kumar.
Tavistock, 212 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 422 78460 5
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... to co-operatives of conventional enterprises – the kinds of conversion introduced by John Lewis into his stores in 1929 and into Scott Bader in 1951 – and in the establishment of completely new co-operatives, a good deal more is possible than might be imagined. Although those who first have the idea and first risk their money are apt, not ...

Someone Else’s

Matthew Reynolds: Translating Cesare Pavese, 6 October 2005

Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-50 
by Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock.
Carcanet, 370 pp., £14.95, April 2004, 1 85754 738 1
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Italian Poems 
edited by Jamie McKendrick.
Faber, 167 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 571 19700 0
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... when he wrote in Italian. Throughout his career he worked as a translator, notably of Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Dos Passos, Melville and Dickens, and published essays on them and other English and American writers. In the 1930s, this was a conscious contribution to the Anti-Fascist intellectual culture which endured in Turin: as ...

Passage to Africa

D.A.N. Jones, 7 July 1983

Africa Dances 
by Geoffrey Gorer.
Penguin, 218 pp., £2.95, January 1983, 0 14 009502 0
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Nigerian Kaleidoscope 
by Rex Niven.
Hurst/Archon, 278 pp., £13.50, January 1983, 0 905838 59 9
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Stepping-Stones 
by Sylvia Leith-Ross, edited by Michael Crowder.
Peter Owen, 191 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0600 4
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Female and Male in West Africa 
edited by Christine Oppong.
Allen and Unwin, 402 pp., £18.50, April 1983, 0 04 301158 6
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Memories of Our Recent Boom 
by Kole Omotoso.
Longman, 232 pp., £1.50, May 1983, 0 582 78572 3
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... picturesque and picaresque, Africa Dances: A Book about West African Negroes, published by Geoffrey Gorer in 1935 when he was 30, after a rather Waugh-like tour of French and British territories: he had been guided by Féral Benga, a ballet dancer from Senegal whom he had met in Paris. The striking pictures included a smoky painting of handsome Benga ...

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