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The Slap

Michael Wilding, 17 April 1986

The Image, and Other Stories 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Cape, 310 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 224 02357 8
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... holds no surprises for the writer. ‘He sat there pale, pondering his own tale. I said, “Helena was still alive, eh?” ’ These old tricks of suspense are still there, but they take a gentler role, so that the more numinous qualities of what is narrated can be dwelt on. It is nice to know how we travel through the story – to see the automobile ...

Deadly Embrace

Jacqueline Rose: Suicide bombers, 4 November 2004

My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing 
by Christoph Reuter, translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby.
Princeton, 246 pp., £15.95, May 2004, 0 691 11759 4
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Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers 
by Barbara Victor.
Robinson, 321 pp., £8.99, April 2004, 1 84119 937 0
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... response: targeted assassinations simply provoke further retaliation (and Israel’s security wall is already proving incapable of deterring attacks). The horror it inspires cannot, however, be explained in terms of the deliberate targeting of civilians: according to McNamara, 100,000 people were burnt to death at the end of the war in the Allied attack ...

I want it, but not yet

Clair Wills: ‘Checkout 19’, 12 August 2021

Checkout 19 
by Claire-Louise Bennett.
Cape, 224 pp., £14.99, August, 978 1 78733 354 3
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... River Arno. She is about the same age as Lucy Honeychurch and she even has the same duvet cover as Helena Bonham-Carter, who plays Lucy in the film – greater identifications have been built on less. At any rate she feels just as trapped, or rather more trapped, because (unlike Lucy) she is all too aware of what’s at stake. She has Lucy to help her ...

A Dreame of Passion

Barbara Everett: Shakespeare’s Most Peculiar Play, 2 January 2003

... comedies each feature one of the dramatist’s only three visibly pregnant women, Julietta and Helena (the third is Hermione in The Winter’s Tale). Even the unseen Mistress Elbow, in the hysterically funny non-account of events in the Bunch of Grapes, is said by Pompey Bum to be ‘with childe, and . . . great bellied, and longing (as I said) for ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... a disappointment, just huge hunks of stone which could be gateposts from the end of any dry-stone wall, and I imagine that is where other similar tombstones have ended up. Much more interesting is the lychgate (restored c.1989): a single broad gate, attached by a bar and chain to an ancient pulley in the thickness of the ...
... some in a glass scenting the whole room, with its collection of keys hung on the plain plaster wall, the bleached oak, the Thirties paintings and bits of brocade. But as one came in, the last smell was always the fish that was put out in the vestibule for the cats. We settled on the royal retinue of Richard II 1388-99 as my research subject and there-after ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue, 7 November 1985

Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... and she stared quietly back. A crowd of light: in A Midsummer Night’s Dream Lysander says that Helena engilds the night more ‘than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light’. Gillian Clarke’s phrase removes the gasping hyperbole and domesticates the particles. In ‘Sheep’s Skulls’ the sheep die On the open hill, and raven and buzzard Come like women ...

Good Manners

Craig Raine, 17 May 1984

The Collected Prose of Elizabeth Bishop 
edited by Robert Giroux.
Chatto, 278 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2809 7
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... not answer my calls. Finally he was found, seated gloomily by himself in the closet facing the wall. He was punishing himself. We later found a smallish puddle of vomit in the conservatory. No one had ever before punished him for his attacks of gastritis, naturally; it was all his own idea, his peculiar Bostonian sense of guilt. And what was Elizabeth ...

Flaubert at Two Hundred

Julian Barnes: Flaubert, the Parrot and Me, 16 December 2021

... shape before the novelist’s eyes, as a kind of hallucination; whether, when he looked at a wall, a tree or a face, he subsequently had absolute, or only partial, recall of it; and whether the musings and images that entered his head while dozing before a fire, or just before going to sleep, were comparable in nature or intensity to the novelist’s ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... in portraits by Peter Hujar (whose photographs line the inside cover of Moser’s book like a wall of publicity stills), Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and, later, her partner Annie Leibovitz. Sontag’s post-cancer skunk-stripe hair made her instantly spottable. For those hitting the right places in Manhattan, Sontag sightings were as ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... wild rebellious ambitious nature of mine. I wish I could satiate it with Empires, though a Saint Helena were the end.’ Her patriotic poems were published in the Nation, which was founded in 1842 and had become the publication which above all others ignited and inflamed Irish nationalism. In 1848, when Gavan Duffy, the editor of the Nation, was ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... to be helping you write in secret. Why would I do that?’ ‘It might be good for fly on the wall,’ he said. ‘I’d like more fly on the wall in the book.’ He kept saying he’d done some work on the early draft but he couldn’t find it. That afternoon, as I laid out a second draft plan for the book, Julian ...

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