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Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Anglocentric: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is in facing-page English, but Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith, for example, occur only in English, and there is no Welsh-language poetry at all. On the other hand, O’Brien’s selection of English-language poetry casts a wider and more ambitious net. ‘Even as we study it, the map changes and discloses a larger ...

Ecclefechan and the Stars

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... on Rhetoric and Belies Lettres in Edinburgh, it was at Glasgow University in 1751 that Adam Smith became the first person to give an official university course in English that dealt with the technique and appreciation of modern writers in that language as well as in the Classical tongues. Hugh Blair, a Church of Scotland minister who from 1762 became ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... discussion of the Statesman’s first years was Edward Hyams’s ‘house’ history. Adrian Smith makes a fuller attempt to place the early New Statesman in its various political and intellectual contexts and relates the fortunes of the small-circulation political weekly to the seismic political changes of 1916-29 that virtually destroyed British ...

Oque?

John Bayley, 30 November 1995

Byrne 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 09 179204 5
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... a sandboy. I could have imagined him swapping jests and odd bits of learning with Logan Pearsall Smith, the author of Trivia, and spellbinding the old dilettante with the tale, told tongue in cheek, of how a misdiagnosis giving him only a few more months to live had set him writing a few light novels to help support the missus after he’d gone ... Droll ...

Charmed Quarantine

James Wood, 21 March 1996

Soul Says: On Recent Poetry 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 266 pp., £15.95, June 1995, 0 674 82146 7
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The Breaking of Style: Hopkins, Heaney, Graham 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 100 pp., £18.95, January 1996, 0 674 08121 8
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The Given and the Made: Strategies of Poetic Redefinition 
by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 137 pp., £7.99, April 1995, 0 571 17078 1
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... uncreased prose – John Ashbery, James Merrill, A.R. Ammons, Amy Clampitt, Charles Simic, Dave Smith, Seamus Heaney, Louise Glück, Jorie Graham and Rita Dove. Vendler is in love with the lyric, indeed so in love with it that she befriends strangers who appear to resemble it: in her collection of review-essays, Soul ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland, 17 July 1997

Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... them. The cowboy novel rates lower even than pornography in the scale of cultural visibility. W.H. Smith (true to their origins: they won a monopoly at railway stations in 1848 in return for an undertaking to purify the nation’s reading matter) recently banished their modest selection of top-shelf skin magazines. If, by some perverse fatwa, Westerns were ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... Hughes on the life of Sylvia Plath, Alison Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie on Graham Greene, Claire Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary Mantel), and as the limits on the new paper’s resources became apparent I thought how hard it would be to put together ...

State of the Art

John Lanchester, 1 June 1989

Manchester United: The Betrayal of a Legend 
by Michael Crick and David Smith.
Pelham, 246 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7207 1783 3
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Football in its Place: An Environmental Psychology of Football Grounds 
by David Canter, Miriam Comber and David Uzzell.
Routledge, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 415 01240 6
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... of historical rhyme, occurred. Elton John bought Watford Football Club and appointed the energetic Graham Taylor as manager. Taylor, looking for a way of fulfilling his boss’s ambition of making Watford into a First Division team, came across a statistical survey which showed that the majority of goals comes, not from intricate, aesthetically-pleasing ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Fastsellers, 22 March 2001

... For example: the top five consolidated publishing groups – Bertelsmann, Pearson, News Corp, W.H. Smith and Holtzbrinck – were responsible for a whopping 49.3 per cent of sales in the General Retail Market in 2000; grim news for independents (News Corp’s figures include those of Fourth Estate, swallowed by HarperCollins last July), though in these ...

Modern Shakespeare

Graham Bradshaw, 21 April 1983

The Taming of the Shrew 
edited by H.J. Oliver.
Oxford, 248 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812907 6
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Henry V 
edited by Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 330 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812912 2
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Muir.
Oxford, 205 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812903 3
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Palmer.
Methuen, 337 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 416 47680 5
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... of emotion; insensitive modernisation can disrupt or destroy metrical rhythm. Although A.J. Smith, the editor of Donne’s poetry in the Penguin English Poets series, is more than usually conscientious, he still prints Donne’s ‘Sembriefe’ as ‘semibreve’, making a metrically regular line irregular. A reader who was puzzled by ...

Forty-Eighters

Peter Pulzer, 4 September 1986

Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Oxford, 304 pp., £17.50, July 1986, 0 19 212239 8
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... an outburst of public indignation in Britain. When it emerged that the Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, had authorised the opening of Mazzini’s correspondence, he was attacked in Parliament for resorting to ‘the spy system of foreign states’ and Carlyle wrote to the Times that opening of men’s letters was ‘a practice near of kin to picking men’s ...

Watermonster Blues

William Wootten: Edwin Morgan, 18 November 2004

Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity 
by Colin Nicholson.
Manchester, 216 pp., £40, October 2002, 0 7190 6360 4
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Beowulf 
translated by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 118 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 588 5
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Cathures 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 617 2
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... his new ballads, Morgan writes about real monsters – Burke and Hare and the poisoner Madeleine Smith – there is black comedy, but no attempt at fellow-feeling. By making his 21st-century demon so likeable a spokesman for alterity, Morgan has avoided glorifying murder, but he has also bleached out something of the potent otherness of the demon’s ...

Burrinchini’s Spectre

Peter Clarke, 19 January 1984

That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in 19th-Century Intellectual History 
by Stefan Collini, Donald Winch and John Burrow.
Cambridge, 385 pp., £25, November 1983, 9780521257626
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... are reminded, ‘Malthus was as much the successor to Abraham Tucker and William Palcy as to Adam Smith, and as much the contemporary of someone like Bishop Sumner, who did so much to make his doctrines acceptable in Anglican circles, as of his friend Ricardo.’ Macaulay, on the other hand, is to be visualised, as he so often visualised himself, addressing ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote, 21 April 2005

The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... in court because he felt an immediate bond with one of them. It was not just that he fancied Perry Smith, although he certainly did; when Lee saw Perry Smith, she thought: ‘Oh, oh! This is the beginning of a great love affair.’ Capote saw in Smith a powerful version of himself. Since ...

Her pen made the first move

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 7 July 1994

Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 418 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 9780701161378
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Vintage, 285 pp., £6.99, March 1994, 0 09 942461 4
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The Sickroom in Victorian Fiction: The Art of Being Ill 
by Miriam Bailin.
Cambridge, 169 pp., £30, April 1994, 0 521 44526 4
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... speculates in a similar vein about the later and sunnier correspondence with the publisher, George Smith, whose evident pleasure in Brontë’s letters may partly have arisen, she thinks, from the artist’s capacity imaginatively to transform him with her pen, recreating him in a form cleverly designed to soothe his insecurities. Though Brontë’s teasingly ...

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