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Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... a different matter. ‘Above Tooey Mountain’, for example, interweaves letters from Hopkins, James Joyce’s mother and Sir James Melville with the poet’s own experience of motherhood: the pay-off is too much like an Ian Hamilton poem (arms damp with flowers ‘from holding them so long’), but the narrative leaps ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: Berry Bros, 20 December 2018

... the time. Another way to phrase the same exam question would have been: ‘Have you read Margery James?’ I’m sure I hadn’t; I have now. I was reminded of the exam question when I went to the wine cellars at Berry Brothers & Rudd on St James’s Street in early December, and as I ...

Uncertainties of the Poet

Nicolas Tredell, 25 June 1992

Kid 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 571 16607 5
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Feast Days 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 52 pp., £6, April 1992, 0 436 20103 8
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An African Elegy 
by Ben Okri.
Cape, 84 pp., £4.99, March 1992, 9780224030069
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Memorabilia 
by Colin Falck.
Taxus, 77 pp., £5.95, March 1992, 1 873012 23 3
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Serious Concerns 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 87 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571166589
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... instances, there is the prose of Achebe and Selvon, and the poetry of Walcott or, closer to home, James Berry (Okri might also learn a thing or two from Grace Nichols). It may be that Okri wishes, as a poet and novelist, to define himself against these older generations, but he is not yet a strong enough poet to spurn their lessons. Colin Falck’s ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... Eight years later, by which time her passionate affair with Fullerton was long over, Henry James, in one of his last letters to her, confirmed her first thoughts about the man who had fascinated them both. ‘WMF … is the most inscrutable of men – he will never pose long enough for the Camera of Identification.’ Marion Mainwaring, in Mysteries ...

Data Guy

Andrew Berry: Almost like a Whale by Steve Jones, 3 February 2000

Almost like a Whale: ‘The Origin of Species’ Updated 
by Steve Jones.
Doubleday, 402 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 385 40985 0
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... polemic. Just as missionaries prefer modern or idiomatic translations of the Bible over the King James version when trying to convert the heathen, Jones may have hoped that evolutionists would find his update a more effective evangelical tool than Darwin. His book, however, will be read only by the converted; it is not going to sell well in the Bible ...

Give me calf’s tears

John Sturrock, 11 November 1999

George Sand: A Woman’s Life Writ Large 
by Belinda Jack.
Chatto, 412 pp., £20, August 1999, 0 7011 6647 9
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... of the title being a brotherhood of itinerant pipers.) The books are all of them set in the Berry, that bit of la France profonde whose centre is Bourges, and are the writing thanks to which, pace Proust, Baudelaire, Henry James (who described her work as being like ‘a large, polished, gilded Easter egg, the pride ...

Vous êtes belle

Penelope Fitzgerald, 8 January 1987

Alain-Fournier: A Brief Life 1886-1914 
by David Arkell.
Carcanet, 178 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 85635 484 8
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Henri Alain-Fournier: Towards the Lost Domain: Letters from London 1905 
translated by W.J. Strachan.
Carcanet, 222 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 85635 674 3
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The Lost Domain 
by Henri Alain-Fournier, translated by Frank Davison.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 212262 2
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... whether it was the country itself that he missed – Epineuil-le-Fleuriel, in the heart of the old Berry province – or the time that he spent there. He shared his country schoolhouse childhood with his young sister Isabelle and their most intense memory was the arrival, at the end of the year, of the livres de prix. They hid themselves, and read every ...

Hatching, Splitting, Doubling

James Lasdun: Smooching the Swan, 21 August 2003

Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self 
by Marina Warner.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2002, 0 19 818726 2
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... it is assigned firmly to the diabolic processes. The argument now doubles back to Bosch’s weird berry-on-human orgy, which is interpreted very ingeniously as an encryption of the equivocal yearnings and anxieties awakened by the discovery of the New World, all held together in a seething, volatile suspension, and informed equally by Ovid’s fruitarian ...

Ranklings

Philip Horne, 30 August 1990

Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... known, among other things, as the teller of the most devastating of the anecdotes displaying Henry James’s incapacity to communicate efficiently. The story told in her 1933 autobiography, A Backward Glance, has James, late one evening, attempt to ask a doddering Windsor pedestrian how their car can find its way to the ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... she later recorded it): ‘The best-dressed woman in New York.’ This is not the sort of ambition James Wood had in mind when he recently suggested in the LRB (4 January) that we owe half of English literature to the aspirant mother. Of course, those sensitive and ambitious women are usually the mothers of lower-class males; and in Wharton’s case, as in ...

Ravishing

Colm Tóibín: Sex Lives of the Castrati, 8 October 2015

The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds 
by Martha Feldman.
California, 454 pp., £40, March 2015, 978 0 520 27949 0
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Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani 
by Roger Freitas.
Cambridge, 452 pp., £22.99, May 2014, 978 1 107 69610 5
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... had to be given about Tenducci’s sexual nature, including from a servant quoted by Helen Berry in The Castrato and His Wife (2012). He was a witness as the surgeon Pietro Massi castrated Tenducci: I clearly saw that … [the surgeon] made two Incisions between the Thighs, and the Body next the Groin, and when these two Incisions were made I ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... end just seems to disappear into itself. Plante has some reputation. His novel The Ghost of Henry James and his trilogy The Francoeur Family, about a household of French Canadians in America, have found plenty of admirers. In the trilogy, which Chatto have just reissued as a one-volume paperback,* he employs a deadpan, frame-by-frame manner to build up the ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 19 January 1989

The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... preceding the divorce (Teddy had embezzled and spent some $50,000 from her trust), Henry James couldn’t help regretting ‘that an intellectuelle – and an Angel – should require such a big pecuniary base.’ But require it she apparently did; and in the later decades of her career especially, she appears to have been capable of driving some ...

Diary

Christopher Hadley: The Lake Taupo Stamp, 18 September 1997

... is probably why it was undiscovered for so long,’ says the New Zealand stamp collector Allan Berry. Even so, a stamp which may be considered very valuable by virtue of a flaw or because it is rare can lose that value if the experts get its provenance wrong. The Royal Philatelic Society’s Expert Committee would have examined about eight hundred ...

Hospitalism

Sarah Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’, 5 July 2018

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... merely the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, its name deriving from the Greek for ‘grape-cluster berry’, which it resembles. A course of antibiotics, frequent sluicings with saline, and all would be well. In the days of Lister, Liston and Pasteur, such infections were thought to be an example of what was known as ‘hospitalism’, for the better ...

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