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All Too Firmly Planted

Bernard Bailyn, 10 November 1994

Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640 
by Roger Thompson.
Massachusetts, 305 pp., £39.50, April 1994, 0 87023 893 0
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Adapting to a New World: English Society in the 17th-century Chesapeake 
by James Horn.
North Carolina, 461 pp., $65, September 1994, 0 8078 2137 3
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... to be a rubbish bin for England’s trash’ (the trash, he believes, headed South: on which see Horn, below.) Methodically, group by group, Thompson analyses his emigrating East Anglians, documenting their rootedness, immobility, conservatism and lack of enterprise. Evidence to the contrary is smartly dealt with, sometimes by means of rather remarkable ...

Golden Horn

Malise Ruthven, 1 March 1984

Pierre Loti: Portrait of an Escapist 
by Lesley Blanch.
Collins, 330 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 00 211649 9
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... it. But practically (and this is his first-rate triumph) we don’t think much about it. Henry James is not the first writer to have been impressed yet baffled by Pierre Loti. Anatole France, who called him the ‘sublime illiterate’, believed that, of all their contemporaries, he was ‘the most sure to last’. To his peers Loti was a distinct ...

Will those responsible come forward?

Clive James, 19 January 1984

... it, Lord. Get Al on to it, And if it turns out to be more than you can handle Raise Jehovah on the horn. May the Lord and Allah with Jehovah’s proverbial In-depth back-up and sales apparatus Make a concerted effort to cut the crap, For the following reasons among others: Lest at least two kinds of Christians during their annual shoot-out Bisect an old lady ...

Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen, 14 January 2002

Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
by Damien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care 
by Lee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
by Christopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... by doing or seeming to do nothing. It was the fashion. Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, James Coburn, and in England – and in a different, English way – Michael Caine, seldom did anything else. It was also a manner which could not always be easily distinguished from simple idleness. For the first 25 years of Mitchum’s career, his performances ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real, 18 December 2014

... of Nazism’s intellectual architects, Carl Schmitt, who, writing on Hamlet, sees in the murder of James I’s father a true north that, although absent in the text itself, orients all its compasses, making England – or, rather, Scotland – the real of Denmark, and the real of medieval Danish politics the modern Elizabethan court. This line of thinking is ...

A Valediction for Philip Larkin

Clive James, 6 February 1986

... present Duke of Kent? You start to see why I was glad I went. Such sights were trophies, ivory and horn Destined for carving into objets d’art. Ideas already jumping like popcorn, I climbed down but had not gone very far Between that old Dakota and the car When what they told me stretched the uncrossed space Into a universe. No tears were shed. Forgive ...

A Storm in His Luggage

C.K. Stead, 26 January 1995

Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters 
edited by David Gordon.
Norton, 313 pp., £23, June 1994, 0 393 03540 9
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‘Agenda’: An Anthology. The First Four Decades 
edited by William Cookson.
Carcanet, 418 pp., £25, May 1994, 1 85754 069 7
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... In a letter dated 22 January 1934 to his protégé James Laughlin, Pound makes passing reference to R.P. Blackmur, who had written a long unflattering essay, ‘Masks of Ezra Pound’, in an issue of the periodical Hound and Horn (which Pound renamed Bitch – Bugle). Next day he refers to it again – ‘24 depressing pages ...

Old Testament Capers

Frank Kermode, 20 September 1984

The Only Problem 
by Muriel Spark.
Bodley Head, 189 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 370 30605 8
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... likes to translate ‘Box of Eye-Paint’ but which is, I understand, more correctly rendered ‘Horn of Antimony’. If there were a Spark Notebook, like Henry James’s, an imaginable entry might run: ‘Suppose that in our time some rich man were not only deep in the study of Job but himself in a situation of ...


John Kerrigan: Lost Shakespeare, 6 February 1986

... Brag was its making so little of the other ascribed poem in Rawlinson 160: the Epitaph on Elias James. As Leslie Hotson showed some years ago, Shakespeare had links with a brewer of that name during his sojourn near St Andrew by the Wardrobe. Doubtless the Oxford editors felt that a single unfamiliar poem was as much as the public would swallow at once, but ...

Things happen all the time

James Wood, 8 May 1997

Selected Stories 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 412 pp., £16.99, November 1996, 0 7011 6521 9
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... been used. In a fit, she drives round to MacQuarrie’s house, parks outside, and leans on the car horn until something happens. The whole town knows about the jilting, of course. Buddy Shields, the night constable, tells her to forget it, and to move on. Even in her distress, Helen is amused that Buddy Shields should be telling her what to do: she used to ...


Richard Altick, 29 October 1987

George Scharf’s London: Sketches and Watercolours of a Changing City, 1820-50 
by Peter Jackson.
Murray, 154 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 7195 4379 7
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... on spreading the good word that ‘metropolitan improvements’ – the upbeat title of a book by James Elmes which Shepherd illustrated – were steadily bringing into existence a city whose size, wealth and new look were rapidly making it the unchallenged capital of the world. Involved, because, like Dr Johnson and Charles Lamb, Scharf was a tireless London ...

Who’s Got the Moxie?

A. Craig Copetas, 23 March 1995

The Mexican Tree Duck 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 247 pp., £15.99, May 1994, 0 330 32451 9
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One to Count Cadence 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 338 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 330 32450 0
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... perhaps the first disowned American hero to find this out, on the rolling slopes of the Little Big Horn. Ernest Hemingway abandoned Africa to scatter his fame across Idaho with a shotgun. Richard Brautigan fled Haight-Ashbury for the solitude of Montana to write Trout Fishing in America and other then classics now discarded. Few make the arduous journey to ...

Look me in the eye

James Hall: Self-portraiture, 25 January 2001

The Artist's Body 
edited by Tracey Warr and Amelia Jones.
Phaidon, 304 pp., £39.95, July 2000, 0 7148 3502 1
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Five Hundred Self-Portraits 
edited by Julian Bell.
Phaidon, 528 pp., £19.95, November 2000, 0 7148 3959 0
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Renaissance Self-Portraiture 
by Joanna Woods-Marsden.
Yale, 285 pp., £45, October 1998, 0 300 07596 0
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... Warhol, Francis Bacon and Jenny Saville; the performance and video artists Joseph Beuys, Rebecca Horn, Bruce Nauman, Arnulf Rainer and Matthew Barney. Their work commonly involves the display of the artists themselves in extremis: Orlan’s increasingly drastic bouts of plastic surgery; the stages of Hannah Wilke’s death from cancer; Stelarc’s ...

Y2K = AP2583

Jonathan Rée: 17th-century philosophy, 10 June 1999

The Cambridge History of 17th-Century Philosophy 
edited by Daniel Garber and Michael Ayres.
Cambridge, 1616 pp., £90, April 1998, 0 521 58864 2
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... be ‘studied but in passage’. Ancient philosophy might be dead, but with the blessing of King James, a fertile new philosophy was about to take its place – ‘a spouse, for generation, fruit and comfort’ as Bacon put it – and its vigorous offspring were destined to conquer new worlds of ‘endless progress or proficience’. Seventeenth-century ...

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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by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... Philip Gross’s The Ice Factory. Clogged webs are slack-strung tennis nets; convulvulus, frail horn gramophones for bees – the opening lines assert, pulling out all the stops, but also requiring too much of that comma (which stands in for a plural verb but is asked to be singular), and perhaps also of gramophones, which are more commonly listened to ...

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