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10 November 1988
MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... Before 1922 Hugh MacDiarmid did not exist. And only Christopher Murray Grieve would have dared to invent him. Alan Bold’s valuable biography points out that when the 30-year-old Grieve began to write in the Scottish Chapbook under the pseudonym ‘M’Diarmid’, he was already editing the magazine under his own name, reviewing for it as ‘Martin Gillespie’, and employing himself as its Advertising Manager (and occasional contributor), ‘A ...

The Fug o’Fame

David Goldie: Hugh MacDiarmid’s letters

6 June 2002
New Selected Letters 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Dorian Grieve.
Carcanet, 572 pp., £39.95, August 2001, 1 85754 273 8
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... too small for him. More than half a century later Grieve, now in his eighties and long famous as Hugh MacDiarmid, was still crowing about this. As an established man of letters, he could afford to be wry about the story, but the fact that he tells it at all makes clear his own big-headedness – the great pleasure he took in the enormousness and ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie

7 March 1985
The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... generation after Pound: David Jones, Anglo-Welshman; Basil Bunting, Northumbrian Englishman; and Hugh MacDiarmid, Lowland Scot. The claim for Jones seems the weakest: it is advanced by Jones’s admirers, not by the poet himself, who took no interest in the question, having other fish to fry; and unlike most modernists, Jones had no patience with ...
5 April 1984
Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmidThe Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... Was Hugh MacDiarmid a great poet? Was he, as John MacQueen asserts in his Foreword to Catherine Kerrigan’s study, one of ‘the three greatest poets to use English in the 20th century’, the other two being Yeats and Eliot? One can understand MacQueen putting the matter that way, but perhaps it is not the most helpful way when the reputations of Eliot and Yeats are shaking down, in the ordinary process of time, following their immense acclaim ...

On Chesil Beach

Raymond Friel

22 May 2003
... I must begin with these stones as the world began. Hugh MacDiarmid From the car park, the duckboard angles up like a runway to the overcast distance – but soon you’re back on solid earth, or rather shingle which yields and crunches underfoot. Behind you, the canter of the downs has come to an abrupt and nervous halt – as if it knows its own limitations ...
21 January 1988
The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... technique and appreciation of modern writers in that language as well as in the Classical tongues. Hugh Blair, a Church of Scotland minister who from 1762 became Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at Edinburgh University, was in effect the world’s first Professor of English Literature. He built his lectures on Smith’s work. Smith held that ‘we in ...
23 October 1986
Hugh MacDiarmidThe Man and his Work 
by Nancy Gish.
Macmillan, 235 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 333 29473 4
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Complete Poems 
by Hugh MacDiarmid.
Penguin, £8.95, February 1985, 0 14 007913 0
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... That assault on the ‘English ethos’ comes from one of its most vehement and defiant opponents, Hugh MacDiarmid. In the preface to his last published collection, Direadh (1974), he praised Eagleton’s book, but added that he had unfortunately overlooked the one shining exception to his general thesis: ...

Four Poems

Robert Crawford

21 February 2002
... attached to the whole of the sky. A Good Address Hair fizzing, earlobes red with daftness, Hugh MacDiarmid in his council house Or maybe out back, in its garden shed A.k.a. The Scottish Poetry Book Club, Retunes near planets till they mutter Doric Sing-songily, but alien all the same, Nane for thee a thochtie sparin’, Earth, thou bonnie broukit ...
16 June 1983
Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... reviewers and commentators, then and later, seem to have agreed with Spring’s assessment. Not Hugh MacDiarmid, however. In a poem which contrasts those who went to fight in 1914 with the International Brigaders, MacDiarmid writes: Despite the undeniable honesty, the little literary gift, What is Sherston’s ...
9 April 1992
Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 298 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 571 16308 4
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... and lack of refinement’, as well as ‘a self-abasing admiration for rigid order’. Like Hugh MacDiarmid, Paulin said, Hopkins had a ‘risky, over-the-top extremism’ to his imagination, and while in Ireland in 1887-8 gave vent in his verse to ‘revolutionary intoxication, an expressionist whap of pure energy’ inspired by his perception ...

Post-Cullodenism

Robert Crawford

3 October 1996
The Poems of Ossian and Related Works 
by James Macpherson, edited by Howard Gaskill.
Edinburgh, 573 pp., £16.95, January 1996, 0 7486 0707 2
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... its allure and its power, but it was also part of its problematic status. Macpherson was urged by Hugh Blair, one of the inventors of modern English Studies, to bring back more developed texts of his Gaelic epic, which he could then translate into English. Macpherson had claimed, after the Fragments were published, that there survived in the Highlands great ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay

4 December 2014
Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... had triggered a savage and self-inflicted defeat for the progressive side. One notable antagonist, Hugh MacDiarmid, puts in an appearance early on. MacDiarmid had been Finlay’s best man, but when Finlay published Glasgow Beasts, an’ a Burd in 1961 the pioneer of synthetic Scots was scandalised by its demotic ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns

25 July 2002
Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... edition of Shakespeare, published in 1795, closes its preface by applying to Shakespeare some of Hugh Blair’s eulogistic words about Ossian. In England, Shakespeare was already being promoted as the national bard. One of the King’s Men, he was a good monarchist; his work was the perfection of the English language; his triumphs took place at the heart of ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan

16 June 2011
... enough to make the end of Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ appear like a moment’s inclemency. The poet Hugh MacDiarmid had a feeling for the freezing lives of sheep, and he resurrected, or to some extent invented, the words that would capture the rude nature of the Scottish snowstorm, calling it the ‘yowdendrift’, when snow is blown across the fields at ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’

12 September 2013
... of drink. There was Robert Burns, after all, and his skirling, birling Tam O’Shanter. There was Hugh MacDiarmid and his drunk man looking at the thistle. And there were all those Scots poets meeting in Milne’s Bar in Edinburgh, pouring whisky down their necks and poison in one another’s ears, yet homeward-bound at the end of it all to beat their ...

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