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Don Roberto

David Daiches, 17 February 1983

Selected Writings of Cunninghame Graham 
edited by Cedric Watts.
Associated University Presses, 212 pp., £13.50, August 1982, 0 8386 3087 1
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The Scottish Sketches of R.B. Cunninghame Graham 
edited by John Walker.
Scottish Academic Press, 204 pp., £8.75, August 1982, 0 7073 0288 9
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... to a passionate radicalism in politics, a radicalism which, like that of his friend and admirer Hugh MacDiarmid, refused to be bound by the platform of any political party. He was elected as a Liberal MP for North-West Lanark in 1886 and sat in Parliament until 1892. He was more of a socialist than a Liberal, however, influenced by H.M. Hyndman and ...

In His Sunday Suit

Stuart Kelly: Liam McIlvanney’s Novel, 3 December 2009

All the Colours of the Town 
by Liam McIlvanney.
Faber, 329 pp., £12.99, August 2009, 978 0 571 23983 2
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... boxing, bowling, golf, football, fishing – that bear comparison with the journalism of his uncle Hugh McIlvanney. McIlvanney’s Lyons – ‘in a parliament of cloggers, he was Georgie Best’ – is an accomplished orator, ruthless operator and formidable presence. The novel is purportedly set during the second term of a devolved administration, yet it is ...


Michael Neve, 16 October 1980

My Guru and his Disciple 
by Christopher Isherwood.
Eyre Methuen, 338 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 413 46930 1
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... and Isherwood fleeing the war will never be resolved: for the politically-minded, the view of Hugh MacDiarmid that you can’t strike a match on a crumbling wall, and that none of these people mattered much anyway, is hard to answer. This book, with its twists of karma, brings back the European ghosts: That same evening, I went with Berthold to ...

Among the Picts

John Sutherland, 18 August 1994

Stained Radiance: A Fictionist’s Prelude 
by J. Leslie Mitchell.
Polygon, 219 pp., £7.95, July 1993, 0 7486 6141 7
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The Speak of the Mearns 
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Polygon, 268 pp., £8.95, June 1994, 0 7486 6167 0
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... years. Success eluded him during his lifetime, although some prescient fellow writers, notably Hugh MacDiarmid and H.G. Wells, had marked him as a major talent. Say ‘Scotland’ and few people (and no travel agents) will think of the bleak, windswept, comparatively featureless North-Eastern coastal region that separates St Andrews from Aberdeen. The ...

In Hackney

Iain Sinclair: Steve Dilworth, 15 November 2001

... running out of puff on Finchley Road). I saw the comedy. The humour of these rocks is savage. Hugh MacDiarmid, in his poems ‘On a Raised Beach’ and ‘Crystals like Blood’, showed the way discriminations of stone define place, define the mental landscape of elective exile. The conceit of MacDiarmid’s poems ...

Watermonster Blues

William Wootten: Edwin Morgan, 18 November 2004

Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity 
by Colin Nicholson.
Manchester, 216 pp., £40, October 2002, 0 7190 6360 4
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translated by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 118 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 588 5
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by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 617 2
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... not for want of trying. Now in his eighties, Morgan is the most influential Scottish poet since Hugh MacDiarmid. Partly because his prose statements and his poetic praxis lay more stress on what poetry can be than on what it should be, that influence has occasioned remarkably little anxiety in the younger poets, such as Robert Crawford, Liz ...


Seamus Deane, 21 April 1983

The Pleasures of Gaelic Poetry 
edited by Sean Mac Reamoinn.
Allen Lane, 272 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 7139 1284 7
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... have the distinction ‘of being the oldest in any European vernacular’. In Scotland, since Hugh MacDiarmid, and in Ireland, since Sean O Riordain, there has been a renaissance of poetry in the old language. John Montague sees this renaissance embodied in the person and work of Sorley MacLean (Somhairle Mac Gill-Eain). Montague’s essay is a ...

Send no postcards, take no pictures

John Redmond, 21 May 1998

One Train 
by Kenneth Koch.
Carcanet, 74 pp., £7.95, March 1997, 9781857542691
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A World where News Travelled slowly 
by Lavinia Greenlaw.
Faber, 53 pp., £6.99, January 1997, 0 571 19160 6
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A Painted Field 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 98 pp., £6.99, February 1997, 0 330 35059 5
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... to – the poet it is supposed to be commemorating. If the poem was called, say, ‘In Memoriam Hugh MacDiarmid’ it would make no discernible difference. And this shows, if nothing else, how completely poetry and natural form are linked in Robertson’s ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne, 7 September 2000

by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... of the British writers who have received the most international recognition: Bunting, David Jones, Hugh MacDiarmid and W.S. Graham are just a few of them. The work of these poets, and their successors in Other, is not inaccessible; it is ‘differently immediate’. Both the Prynne Poems and the anthology are easy enough to find in the shops, so there’s ...

Flickering Star

Robert Crawford: Iain Crichton Smith, 21 January 1999

The Leaf and the Marble 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 80 pp., £6.95, October 1998, 1 85754 400 5
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... up in a Scottish literary climate still linguistically fissured in the wake of the quarrel between Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Muir; he was also painfully aware of the difficulties of writing for a Scottish Gaelic audience numbering at best 65,000, most of whom would have little interest in experimental contemporary poetry or prose. The title of one of his ...

Smiles Better

Andrew O’Hagan: Glasgow v. Edinburgh, 23 May 2013

On Glasgow and Edinburgh 
by Robert Crawford.
Harvard, 345 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 674 04888 1
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... was always falling from the Edenic Orkney of his childhood.) Crawford brings us word of Hugh MacDiarmid, who felt that Scotland’s capital was ‘too stupid yet/To learn how not to stand in her own light’. These were writers in revolt against the complacencies of familiar places, the received wisdom of belonging. Maybe Crawford is just a ...

How Does It Add Up?

Neal Ascherson: The Burns Cult, 12 March 2009

The Bard: Robert Burns, a Biography 
by Robert Crawford.
Cape, 466 pp., £20, January 2009, 978 0 224 07768 2
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... the 19th century, sanitising and sugaring the Bard out of recognition. In the 20th century, led by Hugh MacDiarmid, Scottish intellectuals hit back, denouncing the Burns cult for its smugness, sexism and wholesale distortion: It has denied his spirit to honour his name. It has denied his poetry to laud his amours. It has preserved his furniture and ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... and its apparent connection to the political right, unionism is also perceived to be inauthentic. Hugh MacDiarmid, who listed his hobby in Who’s Who as Anglophobia, rejected the ‘touts and toadies and lickspittles of the English Ascendancy’ in Scotland as collaborators with an alien oppressor. To uphold the Union was to be false to Scotland. ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 23 October 2014

... which pub, and young Karl was introduced to the mighty poets of Milne’s Bar and the Abbotsford: Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch, among others. MacIver played some of the part of a father, taking Karl all over town to whatever was happening on stage or on screen. MacCaig was to become a lifelong friend, guide and admirer; they shared ...

Scottish Men and Scottish Women

Jenny Turner, 27 June 1991

The Burn 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 244 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 436 23286 3
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by Janice Galloway.
Secker, 179 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 436 20027 9
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... Oedipal ‘anxieties of influence’ among their successors, ever exist, Kelman has succeeded Hugh MacDiarmid as Scotland’s ‘strong’ writer of the century. Affirmation of the culture is one thing – and inasmuch as it invests writers with confidence and pride, a very good thing. But to move beyond mere affirmation and into artistic synthesis ...

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