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German Jew

Michael Irwin, 17 April 1980

The Missing Years 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 281 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 297 77707 6
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Jack be nimble 
by Nigel Williams.
Secker, 213 pp., £5.50, March 1980, 0 436 57155 2
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Identity Papers 
by Anthony Cronin.
Co-op Books, 194 pp., £4.50, February 1980, 0 905441 23 0
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Narrow Rooms 
by James Purdy.
Black Sheep Books, 185 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 906538 60 2
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Six Moral Tales 
by Eric Rohmer, translated by Sabine d’Estrée.
Lorrimer, 252 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 85647 075 9
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... and dealer in pornography. Among the contents were letters from various notabilities, including James Joyce and Parnell. Thirty years later, long after disowning his foster-parents and losing track of the box, he speaks of the letters to the librarian of the Celtic Library and is offered a substantial sum for them. Desperate for money he forges them, from ...

Beautiful People

Jonathan Coe, 23 July 1992

Brightness Falls 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 416 pp., £15.99, May 1992, 0 7475 1152 7
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The Lost Father 
by Mona Simpson.
Faber, 506 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 571 16149 9
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Out with the Stars 
by James Purdy.
Peter Owen, 192 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0861 9
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... room in his fiction for the truly bizarre and unpredictable. Out with the Stars is not exactly James Purdy’s most polished work, and will hardly convert those detractors who view his writing as a parodic assault on literary convention, a sort of sustained novelistic suicide. But there is certainly fun to be had in this convoluted story of an ageing ...

Father, Son and Sewing-Machine

Patrick Parrinder, 21 February 1985

Garden, Ashes 
by Danilo Kis, translated by William Hannaher.
Faber, 170 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 9780571134533
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Star Turn 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 314 pp., £9.95, January 1985, 0 571 13296 0
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On Glory’s Course 
by James Purdy.
Peter Owen, 378 pp., £9.95, January 1985, 0 7206 0633 0
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... and Star Turn are both pretty rich in fabulative mania, but (as Huck Finn might have put it) it is James Purdy’s On Glory’s Course which is the champion stretcher case. Purdy’s novel is set in Fonthill, an oil town somewhere in the Midwestern hinterland at the beginning of the Great Depression, and at first the ...

Embarrassed

Graham Hough, 7 October 1982

Thomas Hardy: A Biography 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 637 pp., £15, June 1982, 0 19 211725 4
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. III: 1902-1908 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 367 pp., £19.50, July 1982, 0 19 812620 4
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The Neglected Hardy: Thomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels 
by Richard Taylor.
Macmillan, 202 pp., £17.50, May 1982, 0 333 31051 9
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Good Little Thomas Hardy 
by C.H. Salter.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 333 29387 8
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Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form 
by Penny Boumelha.
Harvester, 178 pp., £18.95, April 1982, 0 7108 0018 5
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Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy 
by Arlene Jackson.
Macmillan, 151 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 32303 3
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... it relies heavily on self-revelation in the novels, and is rather short on concrete detail. R.L. Purdy’s invaluable Bibliographical Study (1954) gives far more than its name implies, and is packed with biographical information. And innumerable references to Hardy, pen-portraits and sketches, appear in the memoirs of others. So altogether a completer ...

Cheeky

Norman Page, 16 March 1989

Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... all those letters that have been lost or destroyed. Hence a scholarly enterprise such as the Purdy/Millgate edition, now complete, of Hardy’s letters, handsomely produced and impeccably edited though it is – or perhaps precisely because it has such a finished and monumental look – can inadvertently create a false impression. ‘Collected ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris, 2 August 2012

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... But the reviewer for Les Nouvelles littéraires found the hero ‘closer to those of Updike and James Purdy than to those of our “new novel”’. Kaplan remarks that this was ‘just the kind of neither/nor position that suited her’, and the young Derrida saw merit in it: ‘A certain “misunderstanding” is often – especially in cases like ...

Raining

Donald Davie, 5 May 1983

Later Poems 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 333 34560 6
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Thomas Hardy Annual, No 1 
edited by Norman Page.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 333 32022 0
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Tess of the d’Urbervilles 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell.
Oxford, 636 pp., £50, March 1983, 0 19 812495 3
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Hardy’s Love Poems 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Carl Weber.
Macmillan, 253 pp., £3.95, February 1983, 0 333 34798 6
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. I: Wessex Poems, Poems of the Past and the Present, Time’s Laughingstocks 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 403 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 19 812708 1
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... been long-needed by me. The other Oxford book is more curious. In 1979 appeared in one volume James Gibson’s Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy: A Variorum Edition. And this Richard Taylor calls ‘a major publishing event ... carried out with meticulous care and loving exactness ...’ That is putting it a bit steep, but the book is on my shelves, it is ...

Other People’s Rooms

Peter Campbell, 7 April 1994

Inside Culture 
by David Halle.
Chicago, 261 pp., £23.95, January 1993, 0 226 31367 0
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Michigan 
by Kathryn Bishop Eckert.
Oxford, 603 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506149 7
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Iowa 
by David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim.
Oxford, 565 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506148 9
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... Some of the best buildings are those which record pure Yankee ingenuity: the Octagon Barn of the James L. and Cora Purdy Farm, for example, which is 100 feet in diameter and has 48 foot high walls – a machine for automated cattle-feeding. And there are things which might be ignored if they did not take place on an ...

Miserable Creatures

C.H. Sisson, 2 August 1984

The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. IV: 1909-1913 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 337 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 19 812621 2
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The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. IV: 1792-1799 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 498 pp., £48, March 1984, 0 19 812681 6
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The Land and Literature of England: A Historical Account 
by Robert M. Adams.
Norton, 555 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 393 01704 4
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. II 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 543 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 19 812783 9
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... contains the variant readings, with such minute differences of presentation, as compared with James Gibson’s Variorum, as only the aficionado will wish to pore over. The printing, paper and production are in the best style of the Press; the Explanatory Notes are on a discreet scale. It cannot be said that Hardy’s works are of a kind which benefits ...

The Capitalocene

Benjamin Kunkel: The Anthropocene, 2 March 2017

The Birth of the Anthropocene 
by Jeremy Davies.
California, 240 pp., £24.95, June 2016, 978 0 520 28997 0
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Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital 
by Jason Moore.
Verso, 336 pp., £19.99, August 2015, 978 1 78168 902 8
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Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming 
by Andreas Malm.
Verso, 496 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78478 129 3
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... A Politics for the Anthropocene, the progressive American writer and professor of law Jedediah Purdy puts it this way: ‘The Anthropocene has to be named before people can try to take responsibility for it’.2 The ecological reality, once acknowledged, can become a political imperative, leading to collective environmental decision-making where for now ...

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