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Two Poems

Gavin Ewart

17 March 1988
... Chopin and Schubert have left écossaises for piano, and there is nothing Scottish about any of them. Percy Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music Like Robert Louis Stevenson living in Samoa, like GeorgeMacBeth 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 ...

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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... disunity, the novelist has the de Roujay family, and its connections, opting for widely divergent political standpoints. Some potentially loose ends are gathered up in the last page or two. GeorgeMacBeth’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 ...

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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... here and there with other anthologies of English verse of the same period (Victoria’s reign 1837-1901) and of the 19th century as a whole. His major precursors are Quiller-Couch, Yeats, Auden, GeorgeMacBeth, 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 ...

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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... who reveals the underside of our dole-full, opulent society. It would be possible to write interestingly about him as bard of a society in cancerous decline, harkening to the Muse of Death, like the GeorgeMacBeth 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 ...

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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... director Goodman here attributes to the influence of White, though I very much doubt if Osborne, who has always known how to look after himself, would agree. The unsuccessful candidate was the late GeorgeMacBeth. 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 ...
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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... contributors who are poets do notably better than this, both in choosing illuminating adjectives and in mentioning technical aspects of verse. Here, for instance, are a couple of sentences from GeorgeMacBeth 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 ...

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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... weekdays or holidays, sick people or healthy people, poor or rich’. To possess a sunny disposition may be as much a handicap to a poet seeking approval in Britain as to come from a sunny clime, and GeorgeMacBeth’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 ...
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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... His books were popular but not highly regarded, and this worried and baffled him. Why, he asked 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 ...
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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... recent past and the present in the latter two-thirds of the book cannot muster the urbanity or control of the opening. We are told of her mother’s death, of the break-up of her marriage to the poet GeorgeMacBeth, 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 ...

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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... bloodiest episodes; nor was there any mention of the two actors, the American Edwin Forrest and the 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 ...

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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... scenes: this was an actors’ movie but with a fluidity no actor had ever known on the stage. The 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 ...

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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... submissive wife (in fact, however, the audience may receive just this impression, or something close 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 ...

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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... of a more widespread desperation. The yearning to uncover a contemporary likeness of Shakespeare 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 ...

‘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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... at St Paul’s to Congreve’s comedies being performed in Covent Garden. Instead of staying in London 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 ...

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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... He’s speaking of the deluge of intimacies we can expect these days in the press about the Royal 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 ...

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