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A Different Sort of Tory

Ronald Stevens: Max Hastings, 12 December 2002

Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers 
by Max Hastings.
Macmillan, 398 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 333 90837 6
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... among them grovelling pro-Americanism, exemplified by leaders that might have been produced by George W. Bush’s press secretary; sneering anti-Europeanism, which pervades everything from the news pages at the front to the City pages at the back; and supine loyalty to any Tory leader, just as long as he is a right-of-centre chauvinist. And then there is ...

Broadcasting and the Abyss

Norman Buchan, 14 June 1990

... in the hands of a mere five people. Indeed, with only three people – Maxwell, Murdoch and Stevens – controlling 80 per cent of it. We might well ask whether we have not simply returned full circle to a 1694 triple pre-censorship. The implications for broadcasting were ominous. Worse was to come. Peacock, for all his Adam Smith convictions, had ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... The reference to ‘one idea’ recalls the passage in ‘Esthétique du Mal’ where Wallace Stevens dismisses                                      the lunatic of one idea         In a world of ideas, who would have all the people Live, work, suffer and die in that idea In a world of ideas. The cure ...

Staggering

Frank Kermode, 2 November 1995

Roy Fuller: Writer and Society 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £25, September 1995, 1 85754 133 2
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... Aloof with rolling eye’; he didn’t like the neologistic epithet ‘penis’, partly because George Barker had used it first, partly because penises can only with difficulty be imagined to have ‘rolling’ eyes. ‘What the lighthouse was more like (the one at Dungeness) was a vinegar bottle with a perforated ceramic attachment to its cork, enabling ...

Lowellship

John Bayley, 17 September 1987

Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry 
edited by Steven Gould Axelrod and Helen Deese.
Cambridge, 377 pp., £17.50, June 1987, 0 571 14979 0
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Collected Prose 
by Robert Lowell, edited and introduced by Robert Giroux.
Faber, 269 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 30872 0
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... he wrote, and in the breast of every admirer. Invoking Milton’s Satan, or Napoleon, or George III (in a long and elaborate poem), Lowell does not so much identify with those persons as cause them to appear in a new light as Robert Lowell. Who else could they be? What else could the poets and poems taken over in Imitations be? It is significant that ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... I said I’d lost it, paid the ten pound penalty, and thought I’d got away with murder: no doubt George Washington would have behaved differently. Now I’m the proud owner of four or five copies (whenever I come across one, I buy it), and moreover Faber had the grace to publish an enlarged version in 1988, Fifty Poems, so the library will be back in ...

Englishmen’s Castles

Gavin Stamp, 7 February 1980

The Victorian Country House 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 470 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 300 02390 1
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The Artist and the Country House 
by John Harris.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp., £37.50, November 1980, 0 85667 053 7
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National Trust Studies 1980 
edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 85667 065 0
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... origins of the domestic styles of Nesfield and Shaw, and for dealing at length with the work of George Devey, that recondite designer of genuine Jacobean houses for Liberal politicians. Dr Girouard has always wanted to combine social and architectural history, and rightly so, since the building of so many new and extravagant country houses in a variety of ...

Accidents of Priority

John Redmond, 22 August 1996

Can You Hear, Bird 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £9.95, February 1996, 9781857542240
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The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 
by Jorie Graham.
Carcanet, 220 pp., £12.95, March 1996, 1 85754 225 8
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Selected Poems 
by Barbara Guest.
Carcanet, 220 pp., £12.95, May 1996, 1 85754 158 8
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Selected Poems 1976-1996 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 126 pp., £9.99, March 1996, 0 19 283223 9
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Adam’s Dream 
by Peter McDonald.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1996, 1 85224 333 3
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... around us. Nobody is more sensitive than Ashbery to such accidents. Ashbery has followed Wallace Stevens in centring the poems on the flow of his thought, the Niagara-like rush and hum of his brain. But being less vain and more worldly than Stevens, he has mostly avoided narcissism – unless one imagines a Narcissus whose ...

Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... an XI in which every position is taken by a Gary. I will start you off. Gary Bailey in goal. Gary Stevens right back. Now you carry on.’ Yes, truly boring. But in those days soccer-mania was dark and lonely work. Outside my small circle of co-bores, most people I knew just didn’t want to know. From time to time, I’d cut a prole-ish dash in pubs or quell ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... America for its behaviour in Vietnam could have implications for sterling. On 16 June 1965, John Stevens of the British Embassy in Washington wrote that ‘the administration still do not think that a devaluation of sterling would bring down the US dollar but this attitude may change as their hopes of strengthening the US balance of payments are dashed. I ...

Hemingway Hunt

Frank Kermode, 17 April 1986

Along with Youth: Hemingway, the Early Years 
by Peter Griffin.
Oxford, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 19 503680 8
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The Young Hemingway 
by Michael Reynolds.
Blackwell, 291 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 631 14786 1
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Hemingway: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 646 pp., £16.95, March 1986, 0 333 42126 4
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... genteel, but by the time that was clear the Great War had started, so nobody blamed Uncle George. ‘Today there are no Hemingways left in Oak Park, but there are plenty of squirrels.’ So, in summary, runs the ominously leisurely opening paragraph, and it is followed by much more significant detail about crime-free Oak Park, the nobs’ refuge from ...

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

ThePoems of Browning. Vol. I: 1826-1840 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin.
Longman, 797 pp., £60, April 1991, 0 582 48100 7
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ThePoems of Browning. Vol. II: 1841-1846 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin .
Longman, 581 pp., £50, April 1991, 9780582063990
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... briefly by an unregarded few. And so it comes about that the Victorians – Browning, no less than George Eliot – are back in favour, not just for their undemanding and verbally profligate forms but for their portentous preoccupation: how to lose religious faith and yet preserve all the psychological comforts which that faith had afforded. More than a ...

Roaming the stations of the world

Patrick McGuinness: Seamus Heaney, 3 January 2002

Electric Light 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.99, March 2001, 0 571 20762 6
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Seamus Heaney in Conversation with Karl Miller 
Between the Lines, 112 pp., £9.50, July 2001, 0 9532841 7 4Show More
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... setting out to sea. Among its contents we hear Voices too of Frost and Wallace Stevens Off a Caedmon double album, off different shelves. Dylan at full volume, the Bushmills killed. ‘Do Not Go Gentle’. ‘Don’t be going yet.’ Heavy as the gate I hung on once As it swung its arc through air round to the hedge-back, The bookcase turns ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, Hugh MacDiarmid, J.M. Synge, David Jones, George Steiner, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Daryush and the fraternity of poets anthologised by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville in A Various Art. It also includes a number of Davie’s poems. If we were to read the adjective ‘British’ in the subtitle of the ...

Anglo-America

Stephen Fender, 3 April 1980

The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... centred on London. Well, not all: Dreiser, Eugene O’Neill, William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens (like Pound and his protégés, an early contributor to Poetry, Chicago) stayed behind; so did the group of young painters and photographers associated with Alfred Stieglitz’s quarterly Camera Work. Besides, it was always possible to import whole ...

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