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Half-Fox

Seamus Perry: Ted Hughes, 29 August 2013

Poet and Critic: The Letters of Ted Hughes and Keith Sagar 
edited by Keith Sagar.
British Library, 340 pp., £25, May 2013, 978 0 7123 5862 0
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Ted and I: A Brother’s Memoir 
by Gerald Hughes.
Robson, 240 pp., £16.99, October 2012, 978 1 84954 389 7
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... and then, coming towards the nearer end of the line, the dark, odd and uncouth figure of Ted Hughes. In the superb doorstop of his Collected Poems, Hughes comes across as a more diverse poet than I remembered, and in many ways a more sympathetic and engaging presence. But it’s true that a good many of his poems ...

Entrepreneurship

Tom Paulin: Ted Hughes and the Hare, 29 November 2007

Letters of Ted Hughes 
edited by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 756 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 571 22138 7
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... Between leaving school and going to Cambridge, Ted Hughes did his National Service in the RAF. Writing from RAF West Kirby, in the Wirral, to a friend, Edna Wholey, in 1949 – characteristically there is no date on the letter – he exults in the wild weather:Edna, I’ve seen rain and I tell you this isn’t rain, – a steady river, well laced with ice, tempest and thunder, covers all this land, and what isn’t concrete has reverted to original chaos of mud water fire and air ...

Tatchell’s Testament

Anne Sofer, 22 December 1983

The Battle for Bermondsey 
by Peter Tatchell.
Heretic Books, 170 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 946097 11 9
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... only playing bit-parts in the story, and this includes the victor of the by-election, Simon Hughes, who makes his one-line appearance on page 148. ‘Simon Hughes is an average Liberal candidate with all the political deficiencies this implies.’ For most of Tatchell’s anticipated audience his will appear adequate ...

Private Lives and Public Affairs

Onora O’Neill, 18 October 1984

Public and Private in Social Life 
edited by S.I. Benn and G.F. Gaus.
Croom Helm, 412 pp., £19.95, July 1983, 0 7099 0668 4
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Public Man, Private Woman 
by Jean Bethke Elshtain.
Martin Robertson, 376 pp., £22.50, February 1982, 0 85520 470 2
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Women’s Choices: Philosophical Problems facing Feminism 
by Mary Midgley and Judith Hughes.
Weidenfeld, 242 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 297 78221 5
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... made by the editors in the leading essay, which many of the contributors take up. Stanley Benn and Gerald Gaus suggest that the discomfort of liberal thinking on the public-private distinction arises because liberals use two distinct conceptual frameworks. The first, individualist framework takes as private what is done, expressed or owned by particular ...

The Best

Tom Shippey, 22 February 1996

Alfred the Great 
by David Sturdy.
Constable, 268 pp., £18.95, November 1995, 0 09 474280 4
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King Alfred the Great 
by Alfred Smyth.
Oxford, 744 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 19 822989 5
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... historians vied with each other to compose panegyrics to him. The biography written by Thomas Hughes, the author of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, said that Alfred disproved once and for all the thesis that Christianity was ‘no faith for fighters’: while the Vikings at Ashdown passed the night before the battle singing the ‘Death-Song of Ragnar ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... Mark Felt, a Hoover loyalist and associate director of the FBI. Hoover plays a central role in Ken Hughes’s gripping investigation, Chasing Shadows, which takes as its point of departure the only break-in ordered by Nixon on 2658 hours of tape: not at Watergate, but at a liberal think-tank, the Brookings Institution. The burglary never took place, despite ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... The belief underlies his veneration for the great ‘talking heads’ like Lord Clark and Robert Hughes, as in a more general way it underlies his love affair with British TV ‘culture’ when it is not merely mausoleum-like. Clearly James’s feeling for British culture is that of the outsider who can dissimulate an insider’s manner, but who will never ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... be enough. (Kray being the Anglicised form of Krähe, the German for ‘crow’. Tell that to Ted Hughes.) The Bethnal Green labyrinth was still guarded at each of its four corners by pub signs bearing the portraits of birds, but the missing tie had undone all the familial superstitions. Reg was divided from Ron. The chicken-entrail voodoo of the Twins had ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Questions for Mrs Thatcher, 23 July 1987

... invoking of economists from Keynes to the present day. Rather we should invoke the memory of Sir Gerald Nabarro, who used ribaldry, anomalies and anachronisms to make people laugh – and once a measure has become the subject of laughter its days are numbered; How many canvassers will be required to keep the poll-tax register up to date? Answer: 70 in ...
The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
Parsifal 
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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Parsifal 
by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... Dragula. But as soon as we try to settle on any particular issue the discussion is superficial. Gerald, in Women in Love, is ‘an Alberich figure’ whose beauty ‘makes him into a Siegfried’, while Axel Heyst in Victory ‘moves Tristan-like to his own destruction’. We are warned, in a hazily vacuous fashion, that the music of ‘the German ...

Hit and Muss

John Campbell, 23 January 1986

David Low 
by Colin Seymour-Ure and Jim Schoff.
Secker, 180 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780436447556
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... but is not very often funny; Garland can be quite sharp, but his drawing is both fussy and crude. Gerald Scarfe is essentially a caricaturist; Marc and Osbert Lancaster are purveyors of one-line gags. The only comparison is with Vicky; he very nearly reaches Low’s level of political acuity and wit but his drawings are much slighter and his characterisation ...

On Trying to Be Portugal

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Zionist Terrorism, 6 August 2009

‘A Senseless, Squalid War’: Voices from Palestine 1945-48 
by Norman Rose.
Bodley Head, 278 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 224 07938 9
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Major Farran’s Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain’s War against Jewish Terrorism 1945-48 
by David Cesarani.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 434 01844 4
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... to support the Jews against the Arabs’, and a long memory is needed to recall the days when what Gerald Kaufman calls ‘the beautiful democratic Israel’ was revered by liberals, the New Statesman hero-worshipped Ben-Gurion as a model social democrat and the left barely knew that the Palestinians existed. That sentiment persisted until the 1967 war. Even ...

Iraq Must Go!

Charles Glass: The Making and Unmaking of Iraq, 3 October 2002

... a jihad. The Arab and Kurdish tribes attacked British troops, and the famed Arabist Colonel Gerald Leachman was killed. A Times leader asked how long Britain would impose on Iraq’s population ‘an elaborate and expensive administration which they never asked for and do not want’. T.E. Lawrence, who had helped to muster the Arab tribes for ...

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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... has been more a chaos of archives than of mind. After the Second World War, the younger composer Gerald Finzi began amalgamating scattered collections – made by Marion Scott, the Gurney family, Ivor’s Gloucester friend John Haines, Vaughan Williams and others – into a central archive. The process continued after Finzi’s death in 1956. Neither Gurney ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010, 16 December 2010

... up to the south door, only later realising it wasn’t lichen but chewing gum. 23 March. That Ted Hughes should have got into Poets’ Corner ahead of Larkin wouldn’t have surprised Larkin, though he must surely have a better claim. Two deans back, and not long after Larkin’s death, I remember Michael Mayne saying that Larkin had earned his place on the ...

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