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The Masks of Doom

Niela Orr, 21 January 2021

... nasty like the old time, old no. 7.On ‘Rhymes like Dimes’, Doom sampled Quincy Jones and James Ingram’s ‘One Hundred Ways’, and produced just as many quotable lines. Or, as Dunbar put it in ‘We Wear the Mask’, he mouthed with myriad subtleties. As Doom says in ‘Hey!’, another song from Operation: Doomsday, he expressed himself ‘with ...

Georgian eyes are smiling

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1988

Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad: ‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... ashes. In the present volume he has also to record the death of his wife: ‘People who cry and grieve never remember. I never grieve and never forget.’ So he remembers being inconsiderate towards his unsatisfactory father (‘unlucky, untrained and unsuccessful’) and says he understands why Dr Johnson stood ...

What most I love I bite

Matthew Bevis: Stevie Smith, 28 July 2016

The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Will May.
Faber, 806 pp., £35, October 2015, 978 0 571 31130 9
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... has all the books, it’s hard to be specific (a Collected Poems as soon as possible, please).’ James MacGibbon’s edition followed in 1975, but it has now been out of print for twenty years. Seamus Heaney reviewed it appreciatively but apologetically: ‘Yet finally the voice, the style, the literary resources are not adequate to the sombre ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... at a time. The three of us came in and he didn’t really know what to say.‘Do you remember Grieve [MacDiarmid] fondly?’‘No.’‘Did MacCaig have interesting things to say?’‘Not really, no.’‘Are you comfortable in here?’‘It’s all right. A bit noisy. I’m reading a lot of Russian poetry.’ Eddie was tougher, and more difficult, than ...

Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... Cavendish Square, north of Oxford Street, but still retained a mansion of 50 rooms in St James’s Square, along with other properties. As a man of commerce he invested in everything from coal to oysters, from soap to slaving, none of which commended him to Old Money. The dukes of Richmond, descended from a royal mistress, notoriously reaped a ...

Heat in a Mild Climate

James Wood: Baron Britain of Aldeburgh, 19 December 2013

Benjamin Britten: A Life in the 20th Century 
by Paul Kildea.
Allen Lane, 635 pp., £30, January 2013, 978 1 84614 232 1
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Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music 
by Neil Powell.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 0 09 193123 0
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... operas don’t merely enact repression, but dramatise it too; we see its operation. We grieve for repression itself (which is doubtless the repressed claim on our sympathies in both Melville and Mann’s works, but made more lucid in Britten’s operas, more urgent). We see repression as we should: ‘working’ and not working – at ...

English Proust

Christopher Prendergast, 8 July 1993

In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, £15, November 1992, 0 7011 3992 7
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... in his revision of Kilmartin, has altered ‘used to go’ to ‘would go’. In addition, James Grieve’s Swann’s Way offers the refreshingly simple ‘Time was when I always went to bed early’, while Richard Howard proposes going into print with ‘Time and again, I have gone to bed early.’ One can argue the toss indefinitely over the ...


Frank Kermode, 22 October 1992

The Jew’s Body 
by Sander Gilman.
Routledge, 303 pp., £10.99, September 1992, 0 415 90459 5
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Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend 
by John Gross.
Chatto, 355 pp., £18, September 1992, 0 7011 3523 9
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Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading 
by Alan Sinfield.
Oxford, 365 pp., £27.50, September 1992, 0 19 811983 6
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... his firm distinction between profit and humanity, and Shylock very bad because he cannot grieve for his daughter without lamenting his ducats. So much for the scheme. But it is also true that we are discouraged from making Shylock simply a two-dimensional emblem of usury by being told things about him that seem superfluous to the scheme and to ...

At The Thirteenth Hour

William Wootten: David Jones, 25 September 2003

Wedding Poems 
by David Jones, edited by Thomas Dilworth.
Enitharmon, 88 pp., £12, April 2002, 1 900564 87 4
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David Jones: Writer and Artist 
by Keith Alldritt.
Constable, 208 pp., £18.99, April 2003, 1 84119 379 8
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... suffering selves around him, thus in ‘Ceremony after a Fire Raid’: ‘Myselves/The grievers/Grieve.’ And, even when refusing to mourn, his verse is attuned to what occasioned the mourning of others. Meanwhile, Eliot was allowing his pronouns to be opened to the public. The ‘one’s, ‘you’s and, especially, ‘we’s of the wartime Quartets draw ...


Nicholas Spice: Dreaming of Vikram Seth, 29 April 1999

An Equal Music 
by Vikram Seth.
Phoenix House, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1999, 1 86159 117 9
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... for a decade. She develops her career as a pianist. Devotes herself to her child. Learns to love James, her not altogether thrilling husband. And when she discovers she is going deaf, she meets this intense misfortune with dignity and a proportionate distress. It’s at the point where her deafness is beginning seriously to disrupt her life that Julia meets ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... riding high are Why Your Life Sucks: And What You Can Do about It by Alan Cohen, When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving and Other Losses by John James and Russell Friedman, and Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks and Ourselves: A Practical Guide for Women by the ...

Burke and Smith

Karl Miller, 16 October 1980

Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... of the subject there, and to have scripted the contributions assigned to the Ettrick Shepherd, James Hogg. One scholar has asserted that the imaginary Hogg was an improvement on the real one, but the contributions do not bear this out. What did ‘James Hogg’ think of the ‘proceedings of these two Irish ...

Boomster and the Quack

Stefan Collini: How to Get on in the Literary World, 2 November 2006

Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 
by Philip Waller.
Oxford, 1181 pp., £85, April 2006, 0 19 820677 1
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... first beneficiaries, Macmillan paying the then record sum of £7000 for American rights to David Grieve in the (disappointed) hope of repeating the phenomenal success of her previous hit, Robert Elsmere. After the ending of the three-voller in 1894, and still more with the expansion of the market in the 1900s, the possibilities for large earnings from ...

Clytie’s Legs

Daniel Aaron, 2 May 1985

The Optimist’s Daughter 
by Eudora Welty, introduced by Helen McNeil.
Virago, 180 pp., £3.50, October 1984, 0 86068 375 3
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One Writer’s Beginnings 
by Eudora Welty.
Harvard, 136 pp., £8.80, April 1984, 0 674 63925 1
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The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty 
Penguin, 622 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 14 006381 1Show More
Conversations with Eudora Welty 
edited by Peggy Whitman Prenshaw.
Mississippi, 356 pp., £9.50, October 1984, 0 87805 206 2
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... less likely than Faulkner’s to be snatched into a metaphysical empyrean. She doesn’t, as Henry James would say, ‘cultivate the high pitch and beat the big drum’. What interests her is not so much their existential dilemmas as their physical and moral landscape, the enclosing objects, in which she allows herself virtually to disappear: their domestic ...

How far shall I take this character?

Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography, 2 November 2000

Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
Faber, 686 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 14356 3
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... the first to receive his co-operation over the complete, ten-year span of its writing. The author, James Atlas, whose biography of Delmore Schwartz appeared in 1977 and who is the general editor of the Penguin Lives Series, was given full access to Bellow’s letters and unpublished manuscripts and final permission to quote all the passages he wanted to ...

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