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Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 17 March 1988

... Percy Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music Like Robert Louis Stevenson living in Samoa, like George MacBeth living in Sheffield, like Ian Brady living in Greater Manchester, I am a Scotsman living in exile; my father was the first of the family to fly South – my grandfather stayed, a Professor in Edinburgh. My mother was of mixed blood, with some ...

The Shirt of Nessan

Patricia Craig, 9 October 1986

The Free Frenchman 
by Piers Paul Read.
Secker, 570 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 436 40966 6
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Dizzy’s Woman 
by George MacBeth.
Cape, 171 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 224 02801 4
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On Foreign Ground 
by Eduardo Quiroga.
Deutsch, 92 pp., £7.95, April 1986, 0 233 97894 1
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A New Shirt 
by Desmond Hogan.
Hamish Hamilton, 215 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 241 11928 6
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... political standpoints. Some potentially loose ends are gathered up in the last page or two. George MacBeth’s declared intention is to supply a want. In the series of letters exchanged between Benjamin Disraeli and Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, Lady Londonderry (known as ‘Vane’) there’s an unexplained hiatus. A silence, beginning in 1839, the ...

Provincialism

Denis Donoghue: Karlin’s collection of Victorian verse, 4 June 1998

The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Danny Karlin.
Allen Lane, 851 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780713990492
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... and of the 19th century as a whole. His major precursors are Quiller-Couch, Yeats, Auden, George MacBeth, Christopher Ricks and Ian Fletcher. I don’t intend a Shopper’s Guide, but I’ll start with two small complaints. Unlike Fletcher, Karlin doesn’t give explanatory notes, except for a few dialect words and phrases in foreign ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... may be as much a handicap to a poet seeking approval in Britain as to come from a sunny clime, and George MacBeth’s and Gavin Ewart’s books are likely to have to answer to the charge that they lack a vision of evil. Poems from Oby would have us believe that the poet has finally, at 50, come into his own, thanks in part to his acquisition of a ...

Cut-Ups

Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... about him as bard of a society in cancerous decline, harkening to the Muse of Death, like the George MacBeth who saw England as The Cleaver Garden or the Blake Morrison who heard The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper. Yet what sets Reading apart is that he has constantly signalled that he is fascinated as much by cut-ups of the text as by cut-ups of the ...

The Three Acts of Criticism

Helen Vendler, 26 May 1994

The Oxford Companion to 20th-Century Poetry in English 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Oxford, 602 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 19 866147 9
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... and in mentioning technical aspects of verse. Here, for instance, are a couple of sentences from George MacBeth on Carl Sandburg: William Carlos Williams broke the grip of the iambic line with more subtlety, but Sandburg smashed it open with greater naturalness. Poems like ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘Cool Tombs’ offer the paragraph as a verse unit in a ...

Big Fish

Frank Kermode, 9 September 1993

Tell Them I’m on my Way 
by Arnold Goodman.
Chapmans, 464 pp., £20, August 1993, 1 85592 636 9
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Not an Englishman: Conversations with Lord Goodman 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 237 pp., £17.99, August 1993, 1 85619 365 9
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... has always known how to look after himself, would agree. The unsuccessful candidate was the late George MacBeth. The Chairman admits he was uneasy about this appointment; indeed he uncharacteristically consulted me, as Chairman of the Literature Panel, although I was in America at the time. I cabled back ‘Better the devil you know,’ and Osborne ...

Dark Strangers, Gorgeous Slums

Philip Horne, 16 March 1989

Off the Rails: Memoirs of a Train Addict 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Bloomsbury, 193 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0011 8
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The Marble Mountain, and Other Stories 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 126 pp., £10.95, January 1989, 9780224025973
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The Bathroom 
by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated by Barbara Bray.
Boyars, 125 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 7145 2880 3
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Motherland 
by Timothy O’Grady.
Chatto, 230 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 7011 3341 4
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A Lesser Dependency 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 146 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 333 49093 2
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... of the opening. We are told of her mother’s death, of the break-up of her marriage to the poet George MacBeth, of the obsessively repeated train-journeys in Italy with her infant son which were her way of fending off (or having) a nervous breakdown, and of her incipient relationship with the painter Robbie Scott-Duff (whose painting of her is on the ...

Bourgeois Masterpieces

Julian Symons, 13 June 1991

Literature and Liberation: Selected Essays 
by Arnold Kettle, edited by Graham Martin and W.R. Owens.
Manchester, 231 pp., £9.95, February 1991, 9780719027734
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... me once, was there thought to be so much difference between Creasey and Shakespeare? Wasn’t Macbeth a crime story? Didn’t he, like Shakespeare, write for the people rather than for intellectuals? The subject-matter was similar, the approach was similar, the difference simply that between prose and verse. I told him the question was unanswerable, which ...

‘Where’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’

Michael Dobson: 17th-century literary culture, 11 September 2008

Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 599 pp., March 2008, 978 0 19 818384 6
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... and making the occasional foray out of town – critics have tended to make it only as far as George Herbert’s Bemerton or Andrew Marvell’s Hull in any case – this study largely avoids the English capital, or at least as far as is compatible with still discussing Cymbeline and some minor bits of Milton. For the most part it shifts its formidably ...

Let him be Caesar!

Michael Dobson: The Astor Place Riot, 2 August 2007

The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama and Death in 19th-Century America 
by Nigel Cliff.
Random House, 312 pp., $26.95, April 2007, 978 0 345 48694 3
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... Englishman William Charles Macready, whose long-smouldering rivalry as to whose was the greatest Macbeth of the age had culminated in clashes between a 15,000-strong mob and a detachment of the National Guard. Nowadays the neighbourhood hardly looks like the front line in New York City’s class war. Instead of a volatile confluence of uptown socialites and ...

Magnifico

David Bromwich: This was Orson Welles, 3 June 2004

Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life 
by Peter Conrad.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20978 5
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... dance in the great house of the Ambersons where a world is ending; the solitary eating scene where George, spoilt inheritor of the family, is watched and questioned by his spinster aunt Fanny; the dinner where Eugene Morgan, in love with George’s mother, the last of the Ambersons, sees the truth in a thoughtless insult by ...

Unsex me here

John Bayley, 20 May 1982

Shakespeare’s Division of Experience 
by Marilyn French.
Cape, 376 pp., £12.50, March 1982, 0 224 02013 7
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... to it). Female outlaws who attempt to usurp the masculine principle – Queen Margaret, Joan, Lady Macbeth, Goneril and Regan – are condemned as fiends and witches and the term applied to them is ‘unnatural’. By trying to become male, they also inevitably demonstrate the worst aspects of feminine outlawry: they become lustful and promiscuous, guilty of ...

Glimpsed in the Glare

Michael Neill: Shakespeare in 1606, 17 December 2015

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 423 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 571 23578 0
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... has a history involving dozens of paintings, stretching back to the early 18th century, when George Vertue identified the so-called Chandos portrait as an image of Shakespeare painted by a friend and fellow actor, John Taylor. Donated to the National Portrait Gallery in 1856, the Chandos is the only candidate to have been granted much credence, but new ...

It’s Mummie

Jenny Diski, 16 December 1993

TheLittle Princesses 
by Marion Crawford, introduced by A.N. Wilson.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 0 7156 2497 0
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... Family. The ‘mystique of kingship’, Wilson explains, was restored in the late Thirties by George VI and Elizabeth, who, even before they moved into Buckingham Palace, erected a wall of silence around the House of Windsor, as soundproof as the walls of all those castles they processed around. Who knew of David Windsor’s dereliction of duty in favour ...

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