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All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman, 2 July 2015

The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... Married, happily it would seem, for five years to Eileen Mulligan (who 35 years later, as Eileen Simpson, now a psychologist, would write Poets in Their Youth, easily the most clear-eyed, intelligent and compassionate record of what it’s like to live with and among poets), he had begun an affair, the first since his marriage, with the wife of a young ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman, 8 February 2007

Nicole Kidman 
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... In the Cut. Not because Kidman is in it. She isn’t. The film stars Meg Ryan, is directed by Jane Campion and tells the story of how a lonely creative writing teacher, Fran, becomes involved with a cop (Mark Ruffalo) who is investigating a string of particularly gruesome murders. As the film (which is based on a novel by Susanna Moore) unfolds, and the ...

Hobnobbing

Ian Hamilton, 1 October 1998

Osbert Sitwell 
by Philip Ziegler.
Chatto, 461 pp., £25, May 1998, 1 85619 646 1
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... less for their work than for the memorable put-downs they engendered: Geoffrey Grigson’s ‘Old Jane’ assaults in New Verse; F.R. Leavis’s crack about the Sitwells belonging to ‘the history of publicity’; Larkin-Amis’s prize ‘for the book of the year combining the greatest pretension and the least talent: it is called The Osbert’ (Larkin’s ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... of tiny hurts. To Ruth Miller, a former student, apropos a piece in the New York Times by Louis Simpson occasioned by Humboldt’s Gift: It was cheap, mean, it did me dirt … I don’t ask myself why the Times prints such miserable stuff, why I must be called an ingrate, a mental tyrant, a thief, a philistine enemy of poetry, a narcissist incapable of ...

Peeping Tam

Karl Miller, 6 August 1981

... poets who are poor, miserable and mad, who amount to nothing. For the purposes of wit, the Habbie Simpson stanza form, used in ‘The Vision’, is a vehicle which can on occasion serve almost as well as the heroic couplet. Burns says here that so far in his life he has ‘done nae-thing’ except write poems, while the Lass of Ecclefechan complains elsewhere ...

Spaced

Michael Neve, 3 September 1981

The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas de Quincey 
by Grevel Lindop.
Dent, 433 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 460 04358 7
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... anxious years trying to fill. The experience of death, which also took his sisters Elizabeth and Jane, was decisive for Thomas, and not healed by the simultaneous experience of having a cold mother. Elizabeth de Quincey was Evangelical, rather aloof, and able, in the manner of Evangelicals, to shield her dislikes and enmities behind an apparently impersonal ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... following. It was Ginsberg’s old Columbia colleagues, John Hollander, Norman Podhoretz and Louis Simpson, all cutting their teeth in the New York literary scene under the approving auspices of Lionel and Diana Trilling, who led the charge against the Beats. ‘It is only fair to Allen Ginsberg to remark on the utter lack of decorum of any kind in his ...

A Tentative Idea for a Lamp

Tim Radford: Thomas Edison, 18 March 1999

Edison: A Life of Invention 
by Paul Israel.
Wiley, 552 pp., £19.50, November 1998, 0 471 52942 7
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... of his co-ordinates are firmly fixed in the cultural map of ‘then’. He was born in the year of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, the year Balzac wrote Cousin Pons, Verdi wrote Macbeth, Berlioz composed The Damnation of Faust, James Simpson first successfully used chloroform, the German Gustav Kirchhoff spelled out the ...

The Animalcule

Nicholas Spice: Little Mr De Quincey, 18 May 2017

Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 397 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 1 4088 3977 5
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... Even his friends tended to diminish him: ‘Poor little fellow!’ Carlyle exclaimed to his wife, Jane, who mused: ‘What would one give to have him in a box, and take him out to talk.’ Scarcely surprising, then, that De Quincey was touchy, quick to detect a snub and fiercely proud. He claimed he first took opium as a palliative for toothache. But it ...

The Uncommon Reader

Alan Bennett: A Story, 8 March 2007

... III. The librarian at Windsor had been one of many who had urged on Her Majesty the charms of Jane Austen, but being told on all sides how much maam would like her put maam off altogether. Besides she had handicaps as a reader of Jane Austen that were peculiarly her own. The essence of ...

Culture Wars

W.J.T. Mitchell, 23 April 1992

... bodies, and transmitted images of Iraqi civilians killed by one of our smart bombs. Senator Simpson of Wyoming promptly labelled Arnett an Iraqi ‘sympathiser’. The criticism even extended to Ted Turner, who was labelled ‘Baghdad Ted’, an appropriate consort for ‘Hanoi Jane’. Military and political leaders ...

A Day’s Work

Joanna Biggs: Reports from the Workplace, 9 April 2015

... talks; normally he’d smoke through his lunch hour. He’s wearing long jean shorts and a Homer Simpson T-shirt; his eyes are ringed with yellow-blue shadows. ‘To be honest, this place takes so much out of me,’ he says. ‘It’s hard to pull away when I get home. I certainly swear at home more because I’m allowed to, but other than that ...

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