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Prophetic Chattiness

Patrick McGuinness: Victor Hugo, 19 June 2003

The Distance, The Shadows: Selected Poems 
by Victor Hugo, translated by Harry Guest.
Anvil, 250 pp., £12.95, November 2002, 0 85646 345 0
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Selected Poetry 
by Victor Hugo, translated by Steven Monte.
Carcanet, 305 pp., £12.95, September 2001, 1 85754 539 7
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Selected Poems of Victor Hugo: A Bilingual Edition 
edited by E.H. Blackmore and A.M. Blackmore.
Chicago, 631 pp., £24.50, April 2001, 0 226 35980 8
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... do. I’ll cross the woods, I’ll cross the mountain-height. No longer can I keep away from you. Harry Guest: At dawn, tomorrow, when the landscape’s whitening, I shall set off. You are expecting me. I’ll take the forest road, the upland road. I can’t go on living so far from you. There are telling differences here. Monte and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Spider-Man 3’, 24 May 2007

Spider-Man 3 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2007
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... boomerang. He dies in a fight with Spider-Man at the end of the movie, but keeps making guest/ghost appearances in the other two; in the latest film, his son Harry, played by James Franco, now knowing who Spider-Man is, becomes the imaginatively named New Goblin, and follows in his father’s ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... least a foothold in the establishment they were criticising: in the words of Cook’s biographer, Harry Thompson, these were not rebellious outsiders but ‘young men questioning a system they had been trained to lead’ and laughing at ‘the society that had reared them’.The four cast members of Beyond the Fringe soon decamped to New York, where the revue ...


R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don, 8 May 1986

... to stand on his dignity. He loved talking – and being listened to. One could safely bring any guest to dinner and place them near him. They would be bound to come away delighted with a stream of funny stories, historical anecdotes and sly shafts of perspicacity. Some of this was due to his courtesy and gregariousness, but he also simply loved performing ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... Hobsbaum thought he bore ‘a resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster, only better dressed’. Harry Guest recalls him carrying ‘a swordstick with him’ – like a Mr Hyde escaped from Dr Jekyll’s lab. Peter Porter, who admired Redgrove’s talent hugely and came to know him through the poets in Hobsbaum’s Group in 1950s London, told anecdotes ...

Bye-bye, NY

Ange Mlinko: Harry Mathews’s Fever Dream, 18 March 2021

Collected Poems: 1946-2016 
by Harry Mathews.
Sand Paper Press, 288 pp., $28, February 2020, 978 0 9843312 8 4
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... When​ Harry Mathews died in Key West in 2017, just shy of his 87th birthday, he was remembered as the first American member of Oulipo, the expatriate author of several experimental novels: The Conversions (1962), Tlooth (1966), The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium (1975), Cigarettes (1987), The Journalist (1994) and My Life in CIA (2005 ...

At Miss Whitehead’s

Edward Said, 7 July 1994

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... student of literature at some of the same universities he frequented first as student and later as guest lecturer. During World War One he was a Princeton undergraduate (as I was almost fifty years later) with F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Peale Bishop, at a time of what seems now like relatively uncomplicated Wasp hegemony there and in the arts generally. His ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... but they started out in Borehamwood. The show was financed by Lew Grade of ATV, and as the guest stars were mostly American they had to fly over for a pittance for the privilege of being abused by Statler and Waldorf – the heckling pensioners in the theatre box who never knowingly applauded – or befriended by Gonzo, a beaked creature of ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: ‘Hollywood Costume’, 20 December 2012

... Casson Mann, tries to overcome the atmosphere of a waxworks museum. Christopher Frayling, the ‘guest curator’, writes a museological piece in the catalogue, a luxurious and mighty tome, about the tricky history of costume display and changing styles in mannequins and lighting. Here, the dummies have two-way scrims for heads, on which footage of the actor ...

The Illiberal Hour

Mark Bonham-Carter, 7 March 1985

Black and White Britain: The Third Survey 
by Colin Brown.
PSI/Heinemann, 331 pp., £22.50, September 1984, 0 435 83124 0
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... autobiography that at a dinner at the American Embassy at which John Bright was the chief British guest, he thumped the table and announced: ‘the English are a nation of brutes and should be exterminated to the last man.’ This statement shocked Henry Adams, James Russell Lowell, the Minister, and the other Americans present. They felt it inappropriate ...

On the Hilltop

Nicholas Penny: How the Getty spends its money, 4 January 2007

Guide to the Getty Villa 
by Kenneth Lapatin et al.
Getty, 131 pp., £8.50, June 2006, 0 89236 828 4
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History of the Art of Antiquity 
by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, translated by Harry Francis Mallgrave.
Getty, 431 pp., £45, March 2006, 0 89236 668 0
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The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing 
by T.J. Clark.
Yale, 260 pp., £20, August 2006, 0 300 11726 4
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... piles of books which they have ordered online. Seminars are held for the elite academics among the guest scholars and they continue their discussions beside the pool, to the bemusement of the guests of the conservation scientists or the Provenance Index, who may be experts on shellfish dyes or Dutch inventories, but are unlikely to be well versed in Benjamin ...


David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... levelling that was to be admired. It was impossible, short of looking like a complete fool, for a guest star to be angry or pompous around Morecambe and Wise. Their only fault lay in believing that everyone else was just as fallible and idiotic and likeable as they were – and, as Morecambe would winningly say, ‘there’s no answer to that.’ Eric ...


Stephen Sharp: The ‘Belgrano’ and Me, 8 May 2014

... to sink the Belgrano. But Mr Pym was speaking in a different context. Paul Daniels, who was also a guest, said: ‘Something strange is going to happen.’ From that day on all the radio and TV channels seemed to be talking about me. Convinced I was already a celebrity I thought a Rolls-Royce that skidded to a halt a few yards from me was mine. It would convey ...

The Only Alphabet

August Kleinzahler: Ashbery’s Early Life, 21 September 2017

The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life 
by Karin Roffman.
Farrar, Straus, 316 pp., £25.50, June 2017, 978 0 374 29384 0
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... the Metaphysical poets with Douglas Bush, 20th-century poetry with F.O. Matthiessen, and attended Harry Levin’s lecture course on Proust, Joyce and Mann. He wrote a number of poems that would later be included in his Yale Younger Poets collection, Some Trees. He wrote a send-up of Robert Lowell, whose poetry he couldn’t stand: ‘Mudgulping trawler, Truro ...

Convenient Death of a Hero

Arnold Rattenbury, 8 May 1997

Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... and Communist – following similar books in memory of John Cornford, Julian Bell and David Haden-Guest, all killed in the Spanish Civil War. (The present title, Beyond the Frontier, nods towards Stansky and Abrahams’s 1966 Journey to the Frontier, a reworking of the lives of Cornford and Bell.) Immediately after the war Frank became for many of us ...

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