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‘They got egg on their faces’

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The Oxford English Dictionary, 20 November 2003

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary 
by Simon Winchester.
Oxford, 260 pp., £12.99, October 2003, 0 19 860702 4
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... that those who have never run a business have failed to understand those who do, and vice versa. Henry Sweet is said to have expressed the fear that ‘Murray would be fired and some Oxford swell, who would draw a good salary for doing nothing, put in his place’; this use of ‘fire’, from 1878 or 1879 and uttered by an Englishman, antedates the first ...

Kipling the Reliable

David Trotter, 6 March 1986

Early Verse by Rudyard Kipling 1879-1889 
edited by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 497 pp., £19.50, March 1986, 9780198123231
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Kipling’s India: Uncollected Sketches 1884-88 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 301 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 38467 9
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Imperialism and Popular Culture 
edited by John MacKenzie.
Manchester, 264 pp., £25, February 1986, 9780719017704
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Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases 
edited by Henry Yule and A.C. Burnell.
Routledge, 1021 pp., £18.95, November 1985, 0 7100 2886 5
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... At the height of Empire, and of the literature of Empire, J.K. Stephen looked forward to a time When there stands a muzzled stripling,     Mute, beside a muzzled bore, When the Rudyards cease from Kipling     And the Haggards Ride no more. The Haggards have ridden rather precariously since the decline of Empire, if at all. But the next few years promise no end of Kipling ...

Cromwell’s Coven

John Sutherland, 4 June 1987

by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 390 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14823 9
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Without Falling 
by Leslie Dick.
Serpent’s Tail, 153 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 1 85242 005 7
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by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 360 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 233 98110 1
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... years later, in New Grub Street (1891), there is a scene in which Gissing’s unfortunate Marian Yule sits in the BM Reading Room with a heart full of anything but grateful reverence. The November fog is swirling around the dome under which an army of literary drudges are grimly working. The BM is no longer a club but a sweat shop. Marian sees it as ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... in London in 1908, he self-published a pamphlet at Christmas cannily called A Quinzaine for This Yule and then used the fact that it had sold out to convince Elkin Mathews to republish it under his respectable imprint, thus launching himself onto the public stage. He was the impresario who galvanised and drew support from the other players in this drama: the ...

This Condensery

August Kleinzahler: In Praise of Lorine Niedecker, 5 June 2003

Collected Works 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
California, 471 pp., £29.95, May 2002, 0 520 22433 7
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Collected Studies in the Use of English 
by Kenneth Cox.
Agenda, 270 pp., £12, September 2001, 9780902400696
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New Goose 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
Listening Chamber, 98 pp., $10, January 2002, 0 9639321 6 0
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... illustrates something of Niedecker’s range: In the great snowfall before the bomb coloured yule tree lights windows, the only glow for contemplation along this road I worked the print shop right down among em the folk from whom all poetry flows and dreadfully much else. I was Blondie I carried my bundles of hog feeder price lists down by Larry the ...

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