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Diary

Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair, 16 November 1995

... frauds in Australia’s rich history of literary hoaxes and deceptions. Before she was exposed, Helen Demidenko, as she styled herself (Helen Darville as she in fact is), might have seemed to be one of the favourites for the prize; indeed, the press was understandably anxious to know whether we had intended shortlisting ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... names on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good reasons, too obvious to need repeating, for the inclusion of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Literary Prizes, 10 May 2001

... is Hartmut Lange, whose Missing Persons, published by Toby Press, is translated from the German by Helen Atkins. The acknowledgments, in their entirety, run: ‘I am grateful to my wife for her assistance.’ An example to us all. The Biggest Bar of Chocolate Prize goes to the publicity department of Voyager (an imprint of HarperCollins and ‘the publishers ...

Ruining the Daal

Thomas Jones: Ardashir Vakil, 19 June 2003

One Day 
by Ardashir Vakil.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £12.99, February 2003, 9780241141328
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... and impulsive. She has been unfaithful to him; he fancies and fantasises about a colleague, Helen, who appears to reciprocate his desires, but they have never acted on them. Priya isn’t blind to Ben’s infatuation, and tells him during an argument that he might as well have slept with Helen, asking him ...

Whitlam Fictions

Zachary Leader, 16 February 1989

Kisses of the Enemy 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 622 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 571 15091 8
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Postcards from Surfers 
by Helen Garner.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0272 2
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Forty-Seventeen 
by Frank Moorhouse.
Faber, 175 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 571 15210 4
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... newly-formed Australia Council. Behind established international figures such as Patrick White, Thomas Keneally and now Peter Carey crowds a small army – a second wave, as it were – of grant-garlanded and prize-bedecked novelists and storytellers, many of whom, especially those whose reputations derive initially from short fiction, have benefited from ...

Fill it with fish

Helen Cooper: The trail of the Grail, 6 June 2002

Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A Grail Romance Retold for Our Time 
by Lindsay Clarke.
HarperCollins, 239 pp., £14.99, September 2001, 0 00 710813 3
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Merlin and the Grail: ‘Joseph of Arimathea’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Perceval’ The Trilogy of Arthurian Romances Attributed to Robert de Boron 
translated by Nigel Bryant.
Boydell and Brewer, 172 pp., £30, May 2001, 0 85991 616 2
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Le Livre du Graal. Tome I: ‘Joseph D’Arimathie’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Les Premiers Faits du Roi Arthur’ 
edited by Daniel Poirion and Philippe Walter.
Gallimard, 1993 pp., £50.95, April 2001, 2 07 011342 6
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... The shift may have been helped by phonetic ambiguities: the saint graal, ‘Sankgreall’ in Sir Thomas Malory’s spelling, the ‘holy vessel’, leached into the sang réal, ‘royal blood’. The Holy Grail was the vessel that had preserved the Holy Blood. Europe, however, was awash with holy blood – Hailes Abbey had a highly efficacious sample – and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: An X-Rated Version of Postman Pat, 20 April 2006

... and not playing fair with the new competition. It would take a lot more than any of that to faze Helen MacKenzie, who was recently named Postwoman of the Year. Out on her rounds on the Isle of Lewis last October, MacKenzie encountered a millworker, Stephen MacKay, who had nearly lost his arm in an industrial accident and was bleeding heavily. MacKenzie took ...

Skeltonics

Helen Cooper: The maverick poetry of John Skelton, 14 December 2006

John Skelton and Poetic Authority: Defining the Liberty to Speak 
by Jane Griffiths.
Oxford, 213 pp., £50, February 2006, 9780199273607
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... as the most significant poet in the 130 years between the death of Chaucer and the flourishing of Thomas Wyatt; but it has to be said that the competition for the top ranking south of the Scottish border is not very fierce, and until the 1930s such a judgment would have struck most people as bizarre. His poetry had come to be little regarded within fifty ...

The Statistical Gaze

Helen McCarthy: The British Census, 29 June 2017

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through Its Census, since 1801 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 4087 0701 2
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... that Britain’s population was shrinking fast, with dire consequences for national wellbeing. Thomas Malthus was equally convinced that the opposite was true, making that case in his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. Malthus was disturbed by the possibility of unchecked growth because he believed it was a natural tendency for population to ...

Good to Think With

Helen Pfeifer, 4 June 2020

Useful Enemies: Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought 1450-1750 
by Noel Malcolm.
Oxford, 512 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 19 883013 9
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... have identified a variety of sources for Campanella’s idiosyncratic vision, from Plato to Thomas More. What no one before Noel Malcolm noticed – although it would be unmistakable to any student of the early modern Middle East – is the extent to which the city of the sun was modelled on the Ottoman Empire.From the Renaissance to the ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: First Impressions, 16 August 2007

... to a different publisher, Richard Crosby. He paid £10 for it, but didn’t publish it. In 1810, Thomas Egerton agreed to publish Sense and Sensibility on commission: Austen paid for her own printing and some advertising, and it found its readers. But what if Egerton had been of the same mind as Crosby? Of if Austen hadn’t been able to raise the ...

Can we conceive of Beatrice ‘snapping’ like a shrew?

Helen Vendler: How not to do Dante, 1 September 2005

Dante in English 
edited by Eric Griffiths and Matthew Reynolds.
Penguin, 479 pp., £16.99, May 2005, 0 14 042388 5
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... of the Ugolino episode by Seamus Heaney and others – including Chaucer, Jonathan Richardson, Thomas Gray, Frederick Howard and Thomas Medwin (with help from Shelley). (The editors err in saying irritably that Heaney ‘foists a “melon” into the starved count’s mouth’. In fact, it is Tydeus who feeds on ...

Embarrassed

Graham Hough, 7 October 1982

Thomas Hardy: A Biography 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 637 pp., £15, June 1982, 0 19 211725 4
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. III: 1902-1908 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 367 pp., £19.50, July 1982, 0 19 812620 4
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The Neglected Hardy: Thomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels 
by Richard Taylor.
Macmillan, 202 pp., £17.50, May 1982, 0 333 31051 9
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Good Little Thomas Hardy 
by C.H. Salter.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 333 29387 8
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Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form 
by Penny Boumelha.
Harvester, 178 pp., £18.95, April 1982, 0 7108 0018 5
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Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy 
by Arlene Jackson.
Macmillan, 151 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 32303 3
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... There has been an abundance of good critical writing about Thomas Hardy, from Lionel Johnson in 1894 to our own day, but his biography has been in a curious condition from the start. The authorised version (Early Life, 1928; Later Years, 1930) is supposed to be by Florence, his second wife, but is wholly composed from notes by Hardy himself, and for the most part actually dictated by him ...

In Venice

Hal Foster: At the Biennale, 4 August 2005

... as Francis Bacon, Philip Guston and Antonio Tapiès, and such contenders as Rachel Whiteread, Thomas Ruff and William Kentridge. Rosa Martínez selected the survey in the vast Arsenale, the old shipyard, where 49 artists and/or groups are spread out over nine thousand square metres. Both exhibitions include work that alludes to the present debacle of war ...

The Suitcase: Part Three

Frances Stonor Saunders, 10 September 2020

... they changed, overnight, the language in which they had all lived together. Elena was now Helen, Mummy not Mami; Papa became Daddy; the boys were still Donald and Peter, of course, but they had far fewer words at their disposal by which to express themselves. They were now British – British refugees, to be exact – not just because their identity ...

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