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Frosty Poem

James​ Michie

7 August 1980
... In New York City I wasn’t told That mid-May nights in Vermont can be cold. Outside, our brook, short of sun And wind, barely keeps up a run, Just jogs and limps so as not to freeze; Flexing her black tender knees, The mare between the moon and the gate Crops fiercely as if she couldn’t wait ...
25 March 1993
Panegyric. Vol. I 
by Guy Debord, translated by James Brook.
Verso, 79 pp., £29.95, January 1993, 0 86091 347 3
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The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Post-Modern Age 
by Sadie Plant.
Routledge, 226 pp., £40, May 1992, 0 415 06222 5
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... go down in history, yet history does not fill up’ (‘Toutes les révolutions entrent dans l’histoire, et l’histoire n’en regorge point’ – the rhythm may actually be stronger in JamesBrook’s unpretentious translation). Even if the allusion is clear – to Ecclesiastes 1.6-7, ‘All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full’ – one must be ready to entertain the notion ...
2 February 1989
Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Mask of Treachery, dealing with Blunt, while Mr Robert Cecil has written a biography of his former Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s study of the Soviet agents who have spied for – or defected to – the West since 1945. Equally inevitably, the same themes, the same episodes criss-cross the four books. But for any ...
1 October 1981
... off-putting. ‘Your stomach’s got no eyes,’ a man once said Who’d guessed I didn’t like how oysters look. For you I’d stand that saying on its head: Your eyes have got no stomach. They can brook, Nay revel in, sights that would strike me dead And make me queasy even in a book. I’d like to call it sorcery or knavery But all too clearly it’s a kind of bravery. You’d need it, too, if you ...
3 March 1988
The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.95, March 1988, 0 571 15013 6
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... close to a conversion. Believing none will do scant justice to the work of one of the most perceptive of contemporary critics. Compounding with half will please nobody. From The Comic Sense of Henry James (1960) through A World Elsewhere (1966) and The Performing Self (1971) to Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (1977), Poirier has pursued a consistent and inventive enquiry into literary language, and ...

Dipper

Jason Harding: George Moore

21 September 2000
George Moore, 1852-1933 
by Adrian Frazier.
Yale, 604 pp., £29.95, May 2000, 0 300 08245 2
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... in 1923. Moore’s final literary persona was as ‘the sage of Ebury Street’, his home for the last two decades of his life. It was here that he composed his ambitious historical romances, The Brook Kerith (1916), which is concerned with St Paul’s discomfiture on discovering that Jesus had not, after all, died on the cross and ascended to heaven but was tending sheep in the Jordan Valley, and ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Melanie Phillips

13 May 2010
... with the Hebrew Bible, and the shocking devaluation of all three (and much besides) since the Enlightenment: civilisation ruined thanks to Francis Bacon, Rousseau, Hume, Comte, Marx, Bergson, William James, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Gramsci, Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins, liberation theologians, Princess Diana, Professor Nutt, someone called Matthew Fox, Madonna, Cherie Blair – and Barack Obama ...
5 June 1986
Agate: A Biography 
by James​ Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... The Hazlitt of our time’, said the Manchester Guardian, announcing the death of James Agate in 1947. An extravagant compliment, but the famous theatre reviewer did have one or two of Hazlitt’s characteristics. Though his journalism now seems too pompous-frivolous even for the ...
30 March 1989
A Theft 
by Saul Bellow.
Penguin, 128 pp., £3.95, March 1989, 0 14 011969 8
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... We seem to hear in it an echo of an earlier New York scene, of the jewelled and grandly brocaded America of the late 19th century. In short, the reigning spirit here might be that of Henry James. This is a surprise. It is a long time, forty years or so, since Saul Bellow abandoned the Flaubertian tradition and decided to break out, to let rip (‘I am an American ...’). The result was an ...

Full of Hell

Fatema Ahmed: James​ Salter

5 February 2004
Cassada 
by James​ Salter.
Harvill, 208 pp., £10.99, August 2003, 1 86046 925 6
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Light Years 
by James​ Salter.
Vintage, 320 pp., £6.99, August 2003, 0 09 945022 4
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... In his memoir, Burning the Days (1997), James Salter tells a story about an encounter between William Faulkner and an officer from the local airbase in Greenville, Mississippi in the early 1950s. They talk of the excitement of flying, and ...
20 July 2000
... that this was well over the top, even though the play had the bad luck to be screened during the so-called winter of discontent. Still, it was a much better piece than was generally allowed (Clive James and Richard Ingrams making particular fools of themselves) but it wasn’t what viewers had come to expect from me and so was unfamiliar, or too unfamiliar anyway, a little unfamiliarity often an ...

Vibrating to the Chord of Queer

Elaine Showalter: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

6 March 2003
Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity 
by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.
Duke, 216 pp., £14.95, March 2003, 0 8223 3015 6
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Regarding Sedgwick: Essays on Queer Culture and Critical Theory 
edited by Stephen Barber and David Clark.
Routledge, 285 pp., £55, September 2002, 0 415 92818 4
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... Buddhism, and has turned away from writing to weaving and other forms of fibre art. In 1999, fibre installations by Sedgwick, both called Floating Columns: In the Bardo, were exhibited at Suny Stony Brook and the Cuny Graduate Center. She uses the Tibetan Buddhist term bardo, or the ‘space between states of being’, to signify the ‘painful bardo of dying’, which occupies the ‘space between ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine

15 July 1982
Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... cattle herdsman), Sir Richard Bulkeley (an early 18th-century hunchback virtuoso), William Blake (‘I see so little of Mr Blake now,’ his wife once complained: ‘He is always in Paradise’), and James Pierrepont Greaves (damned by Carlyle as a ‘blockhead’ and an ‘imbecile’), preferred to leave the world rather than to understand or change it, renouncing (inter alia) religion, property ...

Dangerously Amiable

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal: Lafayette Reconsidered

16 February 2017
The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered 
by Laura Auricchio.
Vintage, 432 pp., £11.99, August 2015, 978 0 307 38745 5
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... the 1790s, hardly any French political figures had anything good to say about the American Revolution or its principles, and the feeling was mirrored on the other side of the ocean. John Adams told James Madison in 1798 that ‘there was not a single principle the same in the American and French Revolutions.’ Even Jefferson, one of the great American admirers of France, had lost his enthusiasm for ...

Enjoying every moment

David Reynolds: Ole Man Churchill

7 August 2003
Churchill 
by John Keegan.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £14.99, November 2002, 0 297 60776 6
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Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend since 1945 
by John Ramsden.
HarperCollins, 652 pp., £9.99, September 2003, 0 00 653099 0
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Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography 
by Mary Soames.
Doubleday, 621 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 385 60446 7
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Churchill at War 1940-45 
by Lord Moran.
Constable, 383 pp., £9.99, October 2002, 1 84119 608 8
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Churchill’s Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy 
by Klaus Larres.
Yale, 583 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 300 09438 8
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... determined the victorious outcome of the greatest threat his country had ever faced’. By contrast with Keegan, John Ramsden shifts our attention firmly to the postwar decades. Like Robert Rhodes James thirty years ago, he argues that if Churchill had died in 1939, his life would probably have been construed as a spectacular failure – more promise than performance. Gallipoli, 1915, was still held ...

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