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Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck, 16 November 2000

The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... When the American poet Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867) travelled to Europe in 1822 he was carrying letters of introduction to Byron, Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Lafayette and Talleyrand, though he never actually met any of them – whether through shyness or negligence or something else is not clear. Dickens called on Halleck on arrival in New York in 1842, but later wrote him off as a mere imitator ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... be lived out as part of the pain of the earth’. In a chapter entitled ‘The Pink Triangle’, Gregory Woods writes: After the ‘liberation’ of the camps by the Allies, those survivors who wore the pink triangle – denoting that they had been imprisoned as homosexuals – were treated as common criminals who had deserved their ...

Don’t break that fiddle

Tobias Gregory: Eclectic Imitators, 19 November 2020

Imitating Authors: Plato to Futurity 
by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 470 pp., £36.99, May 2019, 978 0 19 883808 1
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How the Classics Made Shakespeare 
by Jonathan Bate.
Princeton, 361 pp., £15.99, October 2020, 978 0 691 21014 8
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... becoming a plumber or hairdresser or sushi chef. It would support a view of authorship like John Gregory Dunne’s, who described writing for a living as ‘a job, like laying pipe’.Imitating Authors describes two developments over the past three centuries that helped imitation lose its old sense and take a pejorative turn. The first is the development in ...


Gregory Dart: Leigh Hunt, 18 December 2003

The Selected Writings of Leigh Hunt 
edited by Robert Morrison and Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, July 2003, 1 85196 714 1
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... and said: ‘And this is the Bank of England. And do you sit here all day and never see the green woods and the trees and the flowers and the charming country? Are you contented with such a life?’ And all the time he nursed his little ...


Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine, 30 July 1998

... is what can happen to great houses with ambiguous legacies.The copper beech tree on which Lady Gregory’s guests carved their names is close by. You can just make out some of the initials: GBS, SOC, WBY, JBY, AE. ‘All/That comes of the best knit to the best,’ Yeats wrote in ‘Upon a House Shaken by Land Agitation’. Lady ...


Michael Church, 9 October 1986

The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... egged on by the clenched fists of peasants and shadowed by the police. After hiding in the woods they had to walk over the Pyrenees, dodging the searchlights and bullets of French border guards. The high, simple principle which took them out to Spain seems to have sustained these men – and one woman – through pain, terror, and the confusion and ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... go to Innisfree, and plant nine bean rows there, is chided for preferring to take tea with Lady Gregory. He is not. For the serendipitous, there are quaint facts in plenty. The first man suspended for saying ‘damn’ in the Commons seems to have been that flamboyant Scot, Cunninghame Graham, then Liberal Member for South Lanark. Lord Vansittart is surely ...

Man Is Wolf to Man

Malcolm Gaskill: C.J. Sansom, 23 January 2020

by C.J. Sansom.
Pan Macmillan, 866 pp., £8.99, September 2019, 978 1 4472 8451 2
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... wants to be taken seriously, the same urge felt by the bestselling historical novelist Philippa Gregory, whose Women of the Cousins’ War (2011) is scholarly non-fiction, co-authored with two historians, exploring the lives of three late-medieval women featured in her novels. Both have PhDs – Gregory in English ...

Things Keep Happening

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Histories of Histories, 20 November 2008

A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th Century 
by John Burrow.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, December 2007, 978 0 7139 9337 0
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What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £13.99, March 2007, 978 0 521 69714 9
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The Theft of History 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69105 5
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Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History 
by Darien Shanske.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £54, January 2007, 978 0 521 86411 4
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... empire that the Church would take over as its own. But they did not all attempt to be universal. Gregory of Tours in the late sixth century, the opening of whose candid and ramshackle History of the Franks might be the most engaging of any work of history – ‘A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad’ – came to concentrate on events in ...

Ireland at Swim

Denis Donoghue, 21 April 1983

The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 
edited by M.P. Hederman and R. Kearney, with a preface by Seamus Heaney.
Blackwater Press/Colin Smythe, 930 pp., £25, October 1982, 9780905471136
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A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Knopf, 352 pp., $16.95, April 1983, 0 394 42225 2
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... England is that in Ireland ‘the conventions of English Romanticism, its blessings in the gentle woods, its brooks that murmur and its winds that cry, were simply implausible.’ Irish landscape is determined rather by individual acts of will, violent and transient. Hence ‘ruined castles, ruined houses, ruined towers round or square, mark achievement that ...

In Fiery Letters

Mark Ford: F.T. Prince, 8 February 2018

Reading F.T. Prince 
by Will May.
Liverpool, 256 pp., £75, December 2016, 978 1 78138 333 9
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... Since I have seen him clear, Whether he fondle a golden mare Which he has ridden through wet woods, Or in the sunlight by the water Stand silent as a tree, this verse no longer weeps.The androgynous beauty of the poem’s addressee, who is initially pictured as a Wildean decadent (‘Give him a pale skin, a long hand,/A grey eye with deep eyelids, with ...

Are women nicer than men?

Michael Wood, 21 February 1985

The Dark Hole Days 
by Una Woods.
Blackstaff, 127 pp., £3.50, December 1984, 0 85640 316 4
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Superior Women 
by Alice Adams.
Heinemann, 374 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 434 00631 9
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The Collected Stories 
by Frank Tuohy.
Macmillan, 410 pp., £12.95, December 1984, 0 333 38534 9
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The Apple in the Dark 
by Clarice Lispector, translated by Gregory Rabassa.
Virago, 361 pp., £10.95, January 1985, 0 86068 605 1
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Family Ties 
by Clarice Lispector and Giovanni Pontiero.
Carcanet, 140 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 85636 569 6
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... Places in fiction often have a curious dual nationality. They are entangled in historical events, marked on a solid social map. ‘It’s not exactly the moon I’m asking for,’ a girl thinks in The Dark Hole Days, ‘but surely all my dreams don’t end here: me in a duffle coat signing on the dole and walking in the debris of Belfast.’ Later she adds: ‘Belfast would fit into a corner of London ...

Where little Fyodor played

Stephen Greenblatt, 24 January 1991

... up to pay their last respects, lining up for three days on the lanes that ran through the birch woods, even though there had been only the smallest death notice in the newspapers and though public expressions of grief were not, to put it mildly, encouraged. Upstairs, we are shown the desk where Pasternak wrote – always the climax of a visit to a ...

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