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Edna Longley: Ireland by Others, 17 September 1987

... Ulster or the Six Counties. Not a linguistic inch. At a higher level, where languages meet, John Hewitt’s poetry favours the word ‘stubborn’, Seamus Heaney’s the word ‘obstinate’. It follows that rhetorical exclusion is potentially territorial exclusion. Ms Belfrage grasps the point that, in Republican theory, ‘the Protestants don’t ...


Christopher Reid, 15 May 1980

by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... and yet it cannot be denied that a sense of the traditional form is essential to their work. John Hewitt’s book, Kites in Spring, containing his reminiscences of a Belfast boyhood, consists of more than a hundred sonnets, but these are disappointingly unadventurous in their scope and could, formally speaking, have been written by any textbook ...


Patricia Craig, 3 December 1992

by Jenefer Shute.
Secker, 232 pp., £7.99, August 1992, 0 436 47278 3
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Daughters of the House 
by Michèle Roberts.
Virago, 172 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 1 85381 550 0
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... led her to put such effort into paring herself down to the bone – as in the line from a poem by John Hewitt: ‘A tree is truer for its being bare.’ However, when it comes to her ‘recalling’ a rape by a motorcycle gang, even Josie concedes that it may have all been in her head: ‘A common fantasy among young women, so I’m told.’ What did ...

Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast, 9 January 1992

... Garret FitzGerald and Ian Paisley, while managing not to criticise Gerry Adams, fawning upon John Hume, and eulogising Charles Haughey – currently the object of scandalised enquiry – if with veiled threat: ‘Haughey has still to show that he knows where the British see their interest to lie. But, in the interval, he skilfully combines de Valera’s ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... by means of an outrageous and productive rifling of standard verse-forms like the aisling. John Montague, a poet much given to the perusal of the past, has a blunter, if no less telling method of setting out his historical material: a shattered procession of anonymous suffering files through the brain: burnt houses, pillaged farms, a province in ...


Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... a range of examples from the writings of Patrick Kavanagh, Brian Friel, Tim Pat Coogan, Oliver St John Gogarty, Neil Jordan and Hugh Leonard. It’s a method that seems to be at once academically sound and, for those committed to a long weekend in England and Wales carrying only one bag and one book, perfect for a bit of one-way crack, or ‘entertaining ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... met and married Helen Huntington Hooker. She was rich and well-connected; one brother-in-law was John D. Rockefeller III, another the novelist John P. Marquand. As English remarks, the Hooker family, and the conflicts provoked by Helen’s headstrong ways, read like the plot of a Marquand novel. It did not have a happy ...

The Reshuffle and After

Ross McKibbin: Why Brown should Resign, 25 May 2006

... however, it isn’t clear how much we can read into them. Local elections in the last days of John Major’s government did, it’s true, accurately predict the outcome of the 1997 general election, but that is very unusual. In any case, comparisons between Major’s last days and the position of the present government don’t really hold up. Labour’s ...
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... began ... on the afternoon of 17 November 1985.’ The BBC’s Panorama journalist Gavin Hewitt, who is not an admirer of the Colonel, seems to back him up at least in this important detail. ‘Oliver North,’ he assures us, ‘hadn’t been party initially to the arms deals with the Iranians.’ So there were ‘arms deals with the Iranians’ even ...

All I Can Stand

Thomas Powers: Joseph Mitchell, 18 June 2015

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Thomas Kunkel.
Random House, 384 pp., £22.50, April 2015, 978 0 375 50890 5
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... surprise and intensely interesting. Among the good ones are ‘The Old House at Home’, about Old John McSorley and his son Old Bill, who founded and carried on McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York’s East Village; the already described ‘Mazie’ and ‘Lady Olga’; and ‘The Mohawks in High Steel’, which, along with much else, is one of the best ...

Twenty Kicks in the Backside

Tom Stammers: Rosa Bonheur’s Flock, 5 November 2020

Art Is a Tyrant: The Unconventional Life of Rosa Bonheur 
by Catherine Hewitt.
Icon, 483 pp., £20, February, 978 1 78578 621 1
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... why any female artist would settle for a lesser realm. As her latest biographer, Catherine Hewitt, writes: ‘Rosa never called for equality; she ensured that her work earned her that right.’Where did this sense of exceptional vocation come from? Most historians have stressed the influence exercised by her father, the portraitist Raimond ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... The PAC report came out in November 1993, but the Wessex scandal had already been exposed by John Denham, the recently elected Labour MP for Southampton Itchen and former Friends of the Earth activist. In March 1993, Denham complained that the Health Secretary Tony Newton had disclosed a list of consultants paid by the Wessex Regional Health Authority ...

The Luck of the Tories

Ross McKibbin: The Debt to Kinnock, 7 March 2002

Kinnock: The Biography 
by Martin Westlake.
Little, Brown, 768 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 316 84871 9
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... determining provision and consumption,’ had to be modified to meet the objections of people like John Smith. A pillar of the old Right of the Party, a man still rooted in its traditions, Smith didn’t feel that Labour had to start all over again. Kinnock became increasingly irritated with people who resisted the Party’s modernisation, whether they came ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... athletes in white flannels. Even the commentators are pros (some of them, like Cliff Drysdale and John McEnroe, excellent ones). In nearly every way tennis has become an alienated, albeit highly lucrative profession rather than a sport. The game’s most flamboyant and most gifted practitioner, Andre Agassi, has earned fabulous sums as an endorser of various ...

My Cat All My Pleasure

Gillian Darley: Georgian Life, 19 August 2010

Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England 
by Amanda Vickery.
Yale, 382 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 0 300 15453 5
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... to his serviced chambers and the joys of independence. Nearby, a worthy Anglican cleric-to-be, John Egerton, was lodging in Lincoln’s Inn. He furnished his rooms with a rug, bureau, clock and piano, only to find that he had seemingly mislaid his fine and valuable linen sheets. After months of wrangling he became convinced that his housekeeper had stolen ...

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