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Tennyson’s Nerves

Frank Kermode, 6 November 1980

Tennyson: The Unqulet Heart 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Oxford/Faber, 656 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 812072 9
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Thro’ the Vision of the Night: A Study of Source, Evolution and Structure in Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’ 
by J.M. Gray.
Edinburgh, 179 pp., £10, August 1980, 0 85224 382 0
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... were uneasy on political as well as personal grounds) and very puritanical in matters of sex. J.M. Gray, in a thoughtful new book on the Idylls of the King, argues that Tennyson took a strong line on masculine morality because he knew there was no possibility of relaxing the rules for women, and so the only way to get equality was to tighten them for ...

Beltz’s Beaux

D.A.N. Jones, 3 March 1983

Marienbad 
by Sholom Aleichem, translated by Aliza Shevrin.
Weidenfeld, 222 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 297 78200 2
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A Coin in Nine Hands 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Dori Katz.
Aidan Ellis, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 85628 123 9
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Entry into Jerusalem 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 172 pp., £7.50, January 1983, 0 09 150950 5
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People Who Knock on the Door 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 306 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 434 33521 5
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A Visit from the Footbinder 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2675 2
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Dusklands 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 125 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 9780436102967
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... in a chapel full of nuns delicately made-up.’ The picturegoer remembers how she hated ‘the gray-faced nuns’ at her convent school. ‘The only difference between this movie and life was that here the public knew it was being deceived.’ She turns to her lover – ‘an ordinary man, less real than Lord Southsea’ – and hears him speak ‘Movie ...

High Punctuation

Christopher Ricks, 14 May 1992

But I digress: The Exploitation of Parentheses in English Printed Verse 
by John Lennard.
Oxford, 324 pp., £35, November 1991, 0 19 811247 5
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... parenthesis in a speech by Pearle to suggest a pearl within an oyster; and in the novel Foe (1986) J.M. Coetzee wrote of storytelling: ‘Teasing and braiding can, like any craft, be learned. But as to determining which episodes hold promise (as oysters hold pearls), it is not without justice that this art is called divining.’Lennard:I asked Dr Coetzee if he ...

Places Never Explained

Colm Tóibín: Anthony Hecht, 8 August 2013

The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht 
edited by Jonathan Post.
Johns Hopkins, 365 pp., £18, November 2012, 978 1 4214 0730 2
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... a B-29 gunner shouldn’t get more of the feel of what happened to him into what he writes.’ James Dickey, who also served in the war, wrote: ‘Did Jarrell never love any person in the service with him? Did he just pity himself and all the Others in a kind of monstrous, abstract, complacent and inhuman Compassion?’ He criticised the tameness of ...

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