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Interpretation of Dreams

Harold James, 5 February 1981

Cosima Wagner’s Diaries. Vol. II: 1878-1883 
edited by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Collions, 1200 pp., £20, January 1981, 0 00 216189 3
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... of Wagner; the edition is now complete in English, in a magnificent and accurate translation by Geoffrey Skelton, and is accompanied by the splendidly detailed notes of the German edition by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, with additions by the translator. The second volume covers the period 1878 to the day before Wagner’s death in February ...

Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann, 17 March 1983

Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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Bluebeard 
by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... In a recent interview, Kurt Vonnegut rated his latest novel, Deadeye Dick, at B-. The gesture is disarming, and no doubt his critics will conclude that he has got it just about right. But if we start from the tacit assumption that Deadeye Dick is not a masterpiece, whether or not it becomes a best-seller, we can concentrate our minds on what it is that makes Vonnegut’s style of storytelling so distinctively beguiling ...

Outcanoevre

Aingeal Clare: Alice Oswald, 23 March 2006

Woods etc 
by Alice Oswald.
Faber, 56 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 571 21852 0
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... through these various voices. The result is similar in spirit to Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts or Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns, a scrupulous tilling and scouring of the poet’s homeland. Despite her marked territoriality, there is an aura of communion in Oswald’s work (communion with God, nature, language – anything to hand) which can at times seem ...

Tolerant Repression

Blair Worden, 10 May 1990

Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal 
by Tom Mayer.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £32.50, April 1989, 0 521 36104 4
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Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 317 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 631 13566 9
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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Portraits at the Court of Henry VIII 
by Retha Warnicke.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 521 37000 0
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English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 448 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 300 04180 2
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... often acknowledged than explored. Fox’s concern is the imaginative literature of the age of John Skelton and Thomas More, and then of Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey: literature which he believes to have been gravely undervalued, and which he commends not only for its intrinsic pleasures but as a rich historical source. What the most sophisticated ...

Poetry and Soda

Barbara Everett, 5 February 1981

The Penguin Book of Unrespectable Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Penguin, 335 pp., £1.75, November 1980, 0 14 042142 4
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The Penguin Book of Light Verse 
edited by Gavin Ewart.
Penguin, 639 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 14 042270 6
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... therefore, his Penguin Book of Light Verse is less wholly pleasurable, even less admirable, than Geoffrey Grigson’s now nearly ten-years-old but newly reprinted Unrespectable Verse, then part of the reason may be (given that the two volumes share a number of poems) that Grigson has had either the wisdom or the good fortune not to get saddled with a ...

Rancorous Old Sod

Colin Burrow: Homage to Geoffrey Hill, 20 February 2014

Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 973 pp., £35, November 2013, 978 0 19 960589 7
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... Not everyone​ likes Geoffrey Hill. There have been tedious arguments about his ‘difficulty’, about whether that difficulty has become hermetic obscurity in his later work, about his politics, and about whether the large quantity of verse he’s written in his sixties, seventies and eighties is as good as the relatively small number of poems he wrote in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s ...

Blistering Attacks

Claude Rawson, 6 November 1980

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Oxford, 454 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 19 214110 4
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... Marston ‘because he uses words like a rumbling bully’, and he is ‘not too happy’ about Skelton, though he quotes a pungent example in his Preface and gives him a few pages in the book. The Skeltonic heaping of graphic scatological or animal insults is a descendant of the old magical shamings, which struck men dead, or drove them to suicide, or ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... Opening Day, and before long his work could be found in the small magazines of his time such as Geoffrey Grigson’s New Verse and his friend Roger Roughton’s Contemporary Poetry and Prose, Browsing in Zwemmer’s as a schoolboy, he had encountered Surrealism in its heyday and news of the Surrealist revolution in Europe in the mid-Thirties transformed his ...

D&O

John Lanchester, 5 June 1997

Journals 1990-92 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £20, May 1997, 0 434 00430 8
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... aspects of his own character which are ambitious, snobbish, devious, voyeuristic and hypocritical. Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks quotes Desmond MacCarthy’s mot on the topic of ‘real national characteristics’: that of the English is ‘an inflexible determination, in the face of truth, honour and art, to have things both ways’. No book has ever been more ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves, 11 October 2018

Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... became keen to incorporate in what they now called the ‘Holy Circle’ the strikingly handsome Geoffrey Phibbs, later known as Geoffrey Taylor. After some months with Graves and Riding (who insisted on burning Phibbs’s clothes and confiscating his books as part of his induction into the circle) Phibbs and Graves’s ...

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