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Fitz

John Bayley, 4 April 1985

With Friends Possessed: A Life of Edward FitzGerald 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Faber, 313 pp., £17.50, February 1985, 0 571 13462 9
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... Its distance from FitzGerald can be nicely gauged now from the excellent literal translation by John Heath-Stubbs and Peter Avery. Yet Omar and FitzGerald have one important thing in common: they are both deadpan, using the form, however different its effect in Persian and English, to conceal as much as to reveal. As a 13th-century manual of Persian ...

Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands, 5 March 2015

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... turn the matter into a stamping-ground for weird fancies and fantasies. This has been a tendency. John Heath-Stubbs called West Penwith         a hideous and wicked country, Sloping to hateful sunsets and the end of time.A painter friend of Marsden’s ‘watched low clouds drift in over the sea and felt that each one was smothering her, wrapping ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... The first volume of John Lehmann’s autobiography, published in 1955, starts: When I try to remember where my education in poetry began, the first image that comes to mind is that of my father’s library at the old family home of Fieldhead on the Thames. It is an autumn or winter evening after tea, for James the butler has been in to draw the blinds and close the curtains, and my father is reading under a green-shaded lamp ...

Real Thing

John Naughton, 24 November 1988

Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... the last American Presidential contest. This import-import business started in 1952 when a certain John Profumo – then the Tories’ media man – visited the US during the Presidential election and came back dazzled by what he had seen. It was, he wrote to the Party Chairman on his return, ‘absolutely essential to get all our people on all the programmes ...

Tale from a Silver Age

Peter Clarke, 22 July 1993

Edward HeathA Biography 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 876 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 224 02482 5
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... Party’s wish for change at the top and in serving under his successor. That successor was Edward Heath, the first leader to be elected under elaborate new rules adopted by the Conservative Party in 1965. Those rules, given a further twist ten years later by none other than lord Home himself, set a formidable threshold of support for victory in the first ...

Fighting Men

D.A.N. Jones, 2 February 1984

Ring of Truth 
by Vernon Scannell.
Robson, 342 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 86051 244 4
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The Tiger and the Rose: An Autobiography 
by Vernon Scannell.
Robson, 197 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 86051 221 5
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Man of War 
by John Masters.
Joseph, 314 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 7181 2360 3
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The Notebook of Gismondo Cavalletti 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 224 02141 9
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The Rape of Shavi 
by Buchi Emecheta.
Ogwugwu Afor, 178 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 9508177 1 6
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Thomas Lyster: A Cambridge Novel 
by David Wurtzel.
Brilliance, 215 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 946189 30 7
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Don’t Swing a Cat 
by Eva Bolgar.
Bachman and Turner, 143 pp., £7.50, November 1983, 0 85974 098 6
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... in The Tiger and the Rose; but he is evidently not quite satisfied with them. Turn for a moment to John Masters’s strangely similar novel, Man of War. It is an apologia for another sort of fighting man, a professional soldier. The hero, Dusty Miller, squeezes his way into the British Army during World War One, aged only 16; when World War Two comes ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... his intellectual commitment to incarnation, he was liable also to question material reality. John Heath-Stubbs quotes him as saying that ‘the most difficult thing in the world … is to realise that other people exist.’ He was capable of writing both an ode in praise of shitting and a poem in which such everyday acts as washing oneself become ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... falling away. The Sunday Telegraph has ceased its passionate flirtations with nostalgia. Besides, John Major is either dismantling some of what she did or failing to conceal his embarrassment at the consequences of what he cannot undo. In the balance between exalting the Thatcher years and distancing itself from them, the Major Government has slowly but ...

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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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... verse (from Anon on the structure of the cosmos – ‘as appel the eorthe is round’ – to John Updike on cosmic gall), is therefore fighting a lost battle. The editors make out a brave case for the similarity of poet and scientist (‘the starting-point for both of their activities is the imagination’), dispute old distinctions between ...

Longing for Mao

Hugo Young: Edward Heath, 26 November 1998

The Curse of My Life: My Autobiography 
by Edward Heath.
Hodder, 767 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 340 70852 2
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... In Modern British politics, Edward Heath is the Old Man of the Sea. Not quite as ancient as Methuselah, he has been around for five active decades which sometimes seem like a century. The ocean was what famously passed for his recreational hinterland, and the jacket of his autobiography shows an open, smiling face which could be that of a tweedy amateur sea-dog, weather-beaten and gimlet-eyed, and is, at a guess, at least ten years behind the corpulent, irritable landlubber who now rolls with some difficulty round the House of Commons ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... for instance, Burns Singer, one of the most original poets of the Fifties, or David Wright and John Heath-Stubbs. All three were friends of Graham, and their inclusion might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson, whose 1948 Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (reprinted by Polygon in ...

Plonking

Ferdinand Mount: Edward Heath, 22 July 2010

Edward Heath 
by Philip Ziegler.
Harper, 654 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 0 00 724740 0
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... IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, HE WAS A GREAT MAN.’ At the end of his authorised biography of Edward Heath, Ziegler writes: ‘He was a great man, but his blemishes, though far less considerable, were quite as conspicuous as his virtues, and it is too often by his blemishes that he is remembered.’ In the case of Mountbatten, we were to understand, it was the ...

Aliens

John Sutherland, 21 January 1982

Brave Old World 
by Philippe Curval, translated by Steve Cox.
Allison and Busby, 262 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85031 407 0
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The Insider 
by Christopher Evans.
Faber, 215 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 571 11774 0
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Genetha 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 185 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85031 410 0
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From the Heat of the Day 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 159 pp., £6.50, October 1979, 0 85031 325 2
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One Generation 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 202 pp., £2.50, March 1981, 9780850312546
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Sardines 
by Nuruddin Farah.
Allison and Busby, 250 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 85031 408 9
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... and promiscuous’. Its profundities are too painlessly arrived at. With Genetha, Roy Heath completes his Guyana trilogy following the fortunes of the Armstrong family to their dismal conclusion. The first volume, From the Heat of the Day, was set in the 1920s. Gladys married her postmaster; he cheated his sister out of her house so that they ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1982

The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... to our discourses. And so, says Foucault, with the ‘sexual revolution’ itself. Stephen Heath never mentions Foucault. Yet his point in exposing the ‘Sexual Fix’ is almost exactly the same. It is to show that when we believe ourselves at last to be able to express our real selves in sex, when we claim our Right to Sex Happiness, go to bed with ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Caster Semenya, 8 October 2009

... the ordinary run of things, women’s sex chromosomes are XX and men’s are XY. (When Ted Heath rang up the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography to complain about the way something he’d written had been copy-edited, he was put through to the editor, Dr C.S. Nicholls. When she answered, Heath found ...

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