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How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney

14 October 1999
‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... never more beautiful than here under the guns’ noise.                                            (‘First Time In’) In his 1996 Everyman selection, GeorgeWalter calls this squaddie quality of absorption in the ordinary ‘his fascination with people – his democracy’. But it is not always present: it seems to come and go like a mind moving in and ...
4 October 1984
... a girl into trouble, so finding that social pressures produce an acceleration of the normal route. It quickly occurs to the reader familiar with the background that Gilbert Noon has the initials of George Neville, who was a constituent, rather bounderish, part of Leslie Tempest in The White Peacock. Neville was a year younger than Lawrence, like him went to Nottingham Grammar School, and became a ...

Obstacles

Penelope Fitzgerald

4 July 1996
Edward Thomas: Selected Letters 
edited by R. George​ Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... the good-hearted but overwhelming Eleanor Farjeon, spoiled him as much as they dared. He couldn’t get on with his son and was sometimes ruthless with his friends – ‘people soon bore him’ said Walter de la Mare sadly – although most of them were called on to help him in his struggle with depression. But Edward Thomas was, and is, greatly loved. His scholarly biographer, George Thomas, irritated ...

Wannabee

Frank Kermode

8 October 1992
Sacred Country 
by Rose Tremain.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 365 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 1 85619 118 4
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... called Mary, beginning when she was six. She is standing with her family in a cold Suffolk field – Tremain often revisits Suffolk – trying to observe two minutes’ silence for the funeral of George VI. The time is extended by her father’s inability to judge time by his faulty watch. Like most of the characters, the father is pretty odd; unlike most of them, he is also capable of brutality. He ...

Skipping

Claudia Johnson: The history of the novel

8 March 2001
The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George​ Eliot 
by Leah Price.
Cambridge, 224 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 78208 2
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... Price rectifies this inattention by reminding us that novels (or versions of them) were often anthologised. Most modern readers will never have heard of Beauties of Sterne, the Wit and Wisdom of Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot’s Sayings, or the Thomas Hardy Calendar, and the few who have actually looked inside such volumes will have done so only because the ‘real’ copy of the novel they were ...

Trevelogue

E.S. Turner

25 June 1987
The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... he was my publisher (a very helpful and tolerant one – interest duly declared). He was born in the Andaman Islands, the penal settlement run by the Raj off the coast of Burma, where his father, Walter Raleigh Trevelyan, was an Army captain. There may have been chain-gangs clanking away on the roads, and predatory savages on the neighbouring isles, but gracious living was not excluded: Government ...

Northern Laughter

Karl Miller: Macrone on Scott

9 October 2013
The Life of Sir Walter​ Scott 
by John Macrone, edited by Daniel Grader.
Edinburgh, 156 pp., £65, February 2013, 978 0 7486 6991 2
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... Students of the life and works of Walter Scott and James Hogg may have glimpsed the shadowy, not to say meteoric, not to say dubious presence of the publisher John Macrone, and learned of his prompt desire, after Scott’s death in ...

So long, Lalitha

James Lever: Franzen’s Soap Opera

7 October 2010
Freedom 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 562 pp., £20, September 2010, 978 0 00 726975 4
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... suppleness between an authorial voice, general gossip and the perspective of a particularly malicious couple called the Paulsens to give us an Updikean neighbourhood view of our protagonists, Walter and Patty Berglund and their children, Joey and Jessica. This is the story from the outside: Walter and Patty, the pioneering gentrifiers of a once down-at-heel street in St Paul, Minnesota, are ...

Round the (Next) Bend

Simon Adams: Sir Walter​ Ralegh

6 July 2000
The Letters of Sir Walter​ Raleigh 
edited by Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings.
Exeter, 403 pp., £45, July 1999, 0 85989 527 0
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... if His Majesty was so committed to the worthy aim of the elimination of piracy, what better way could there be of demonstrating that commitment than bringing to justice the notorious pirate Sir Walter Ralegh? Gondomar had already returned to Spain by the time of Ralegh’s execution in October (he couldn’t stand the British climate), but it was widely seen as his work. He had, quite unwittingly ...

Victor Ludorum

Julian Symons

20 December 1990
The Complete Short Stories 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 1220 pp., £25, November 1990, 0 7011 3712 6
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Lasting Impressions 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 171 pp., £15.99, November 1990, 0 7011 3606 5
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... an equally fine ear for what is unusual in everyday speech. Part of his art has rested in the understanding that ordinary people say and do extraordinary things. The portrait of Pritchett’s father Walter in the autobiographical volumes A Cab at the Door and Midnight Oil shows his powers at full stretch. Walter Pritchett, as seen by his eldest son, was a figure of Micawberian optimism, opening a ...
16 October 1997
The Royals 
by Kitty Kelley.
Warner, 547 pp., $27, September 1997, 0 446 51712 7
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... A family on the throne,’ observed Walter Bagehot, in one of those honeyed phrases which may mean more or less than they seem to, ‘is an interesting idea.’ Indeed, it is. But during the past two hundred years of British royal history, it ...

Out of Germany

E.S. Shaffer

2 October 1980
The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought 1800-1860 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 521 22560 4
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Criticism in the Wilderness. The Study of Literature Today 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Yale, 314 pp., £11.40, October 1980, 0 300 02085 6
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... that went into it.’ To find a worthy representative of this tradition, Hartman is obliged to abandon both English and American criticism altogether, and to return to Schlegel’s homeland and to Walter Benjamin. The heart of the book lies not in the chapter about Benjamin, however, but in the programmatic chapter called ‘Literary Commentary as Literature’, in which in a handful of brilliant ...

Will-be-ism?

Nicolas Walter

27 February 1992
Demanding the impossible: A History of Anarchism 
by Peter Marshall.
HarperCollins, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 00 217855 9
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The Self-Build Book 
by Jon Broome and Brian Richardson.
Green Books, 253 pp., £15, December 1991, 1 870098 23 4
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... perspective. A single volume which attempts to cover the whole field can offer only a synthesis or a survey of previous research. For thirty years the standard work of this kind in English has been George Woodcock’s Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (1962), which was a synthesis – an inexpensive paperback, elegantly written, deliberately designed for ordinary readers rather ...

Suiting yourself

Peter Campbell

27 July 1989
I Modi. The Sixteen Pleasures: An Erotic Album of Renaissance Italy 
by Lynne Lawner.
Northwestern, 132 pp., $35.95, February 1989, 0 8101 0803 8
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The Dress of the Venetians 1495-1525 
by Stella Mary Newton.
Scolar, 196 pp., £28.50, December 1988, 0 85967 735 4
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Fashion Drawings in ‘Vogue’: René Bouët-Willamez and Fashion Drawings in ‘Vogue’: Carl Erickson 
by William Parker.
Joseph, 128 pp., £14.95, March 1989, 0 86350 198 2
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Women and Fashion 
by Caroline Evans and Minna Thornton.
Quartet, 184 pp., £15, March 1989, 0 7043 2691 4
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... as woodcuts – the illustration here is taken from it – which Lynne Lawner supposes to have been produced in Venice around 1527. The unique surviving copy of this edition was found in 1928 by Walter Toscanini, son of the conductor. The pages of this book, the de Waldeck drawings, the British Museum fragments, and translations of the sonnets, are all included in Lawner’s book. A foreword by ...

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