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Sperm’s-Eye View

Robert Crawford

23 February 1995
Dock Leaves 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 67 pp., £6.99, June 1994, 0 571 17175 3
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Spring Forest 
by Geoffrey Lehmann.
Faber, 171 pp., £6.99, September 1994, 0 571 17246 6
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Everything is Strange 
by Frank Kuppner.
Carcanet, 78 pp., £8.95, July 1994, 1 85754 071 9
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The Queen of Sheba 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, April 1994, 1 85224 284 1
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... with an adult guile and knowingness. Within this very self-conscious acoustic, adult and child listen to and watch each other constantly, aware that out of such mutual perception poems form. GeoffreyLehmann’s Spring Forest is another family book produced through double-voicing. As Lehmann explains at the start, ‘this book is spoken through the voice of a living person, Ross McInerney of ...
7 May 1981
... Geoffrey Grigson and I were touring Wiltshire in a hired car, a black Morris 1000 saloon, doing a piece of photo-journalism for Picture Post. I was taking the photographs. It-was 1951. The Mail had offered a ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive

10 June 1999
... at birth all the fashionable literary neuroses but his fairy godmother ‘quite forgot the gift of literary skill’. (Once celebrated as the Shelley of the Thirties, he was later described by Geoffrey Grigson as the ‘Rupert Brooke of the Depression’.) Isherwood, he grudgingly conceded, could claim ‘accomplishment’. Isherwood returned the tepid compliment, 12 years later, with a script for ...

Hierophants

Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis

6 September 2007
C. Day-Lewis: A Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... of power and welders of a new world looking forward to A day when power for all shall radiate From the sovereign centres. Throughout the 1930s, Day-Lewis’s work attracted the usual venom from Geoffrey Grigson and the usual unsparing criticism from F.R. Leavis, but his consecration in the eyes of a wider public had come with T.E. Lawrence’s judgment in conversation with Winston Churchill, as ...

Fit and Few

Donald Davie

3 May 1984
The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in Modern American, English and Irish Poetry 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 30632 5
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... himself. His identity is political: not just ‘the Left’, but that part of the Left that knows about riding-masters, and therefore is afflicted by rentier-guilt. (‘Recurrent as malaria,’ John Lehmann wrote in 1955, ‘a bout of rentier-guilt laid me low.’) Because Auden’s ideal or preferred or postulated reader has this socio-political identity, he is particularly easy to recognise; Trotter ...

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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... Lewis does not seem to be an obvious next step; it’s as if an established British or Irish scholar who’d spent years carefully tracking and tracing the continuities between Hardy and Larkin and Geoffrey Hill, say, and producing learned monographs on the Movement or on Ted Hughes suddenly took the notion to write a book about Frederic Prokosch (a poet, like Day Lewis, who made most of his money from ...
21 January 1982
War Diary 1913-1917: Chronicle of Youth 
by Vera Brittain, edited by Alan Bishop.
Gollancz, 382 pp., £8.50, September 1981, 0 575 02888 2
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The English Poets of the First World War 
by John Lehmann.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £6.95, August 1981, 0 500 01256 3
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Voices from the Great War 
by Peter Vansittart.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 224 01915 5
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The Little Field-Marshal: Sir John French 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 427 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 224 01575 3
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... terms. Meanwhile, the memory of Leighton ruled her life: he became for her the paragon of Britain’s youth, and a tragic precursor for the other three young officers she loved – Victor Richardson, Geoffrey Thurlow and her younger brother, Edward, all killed in action. When one reads Brittain’s diary, it is hard not to resent the way Leighton cut across the natural line of her development. In the ...

Poet-in-Ordinary

Samuel Hynes

22 May 1980
C. Day-Lewis: An English Literary Life 
by Sean Day-Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 333 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 297 77745 9
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... that he did so was, I think, a good thing for English literature: at least one might argue that it retarded the separation of English poetry from its general English audience. To a sharp eye – to Geoffrey Grigson’s, for instance – the burial of the private Day-Lewis was already in progress in the Thirties, when the avant-garde poet became also Nicholas Blake the detective novelist, and Day-Lewis ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry

4 October 2001
Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... certainly Henderson with his elegiac sense of ‘our human civil war’, his ‘wronged proletariat of levelling death’; the wonderfully precise Australian John Manifold; and another soldier-poet, Geoffrey Matthews, who ended an ‘Elegiac Sonnet’ of 1943 about flowers at a graveside: . . . For his first low home Pastelled sweet-peas and grass For his green simplicity; And the gay daughter marigold ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... than one hundred women novelists before Jane Austen and no more than thirty men’. Then follows a remarkable passage: ‘Among the neglected men I have found Robert Bage, Henry Brooke, John Bunyan, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Delaney [sic], Emanuel Ford, William Godwin, Richard Graves, Robert Greene, Robert Henryson, Charles Johnstone, Charles Lever, M.G. Lewis, Thomas Lodge, Henry MacKenzie [sic], Thomas ...

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