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Hand and Foot

John Kerrigan: Seamus Heaney, 27 May 1999

Opened Ground: Poems 1966-96 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 478 pp., £20, September 1998, 0 571 19492 3
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The Poetry of Seamus Heaney: A Critical Study 
by Neil Corcoran.
Faber, 276 pp., £9.99, September 1998, 0 571 17747 6
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Seamus Heaney 
by Helen Vendler.
HarperCollins, 188 pp., £15.99, November 1998, 0 00 255856 4
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... When Seamus Heaney left Belfast in 1972, to work as a freelance writer in the relative safety of the Republic, Northern Ireland was a war zone. Internment and Bloody Sunday had recruited so many to the Provisional IRA that Civil Rights marches had given way to carbombs. While Heaney in County Wicklow wrote the poems that would go into North, common ground was eroded ...

Fathers Who Live Too Long

John Kerrigan: Shakespeare’s Property, 12 September 2013

Being and Having in Shakespeare 
by Katharine Eisaman Maus.
Oxford, 141 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 969800 4
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... Last summer, the National Theatre put on Timon of Athens as a play about the credit crunch. Simon Russell Beale was the glossy, well-fed protagonist, a wealthy patron of the arts and liberal dispenser of gifts, who plunges into misanthropy when he can borrow no more and his friends reject him. The production was stylishly contemporary, set in the expensive interiors of Mayfair and Canary Wharf ...

Old, Old, Old, Old, Old

John Kerrigan: Late Yeats, 3 March 2005

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. II: The Arch-Poet 1915-39 
by Roy Foster.
Oxford, 822 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 0 19 280609 2
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... The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1938. An old pedlar and his young son stand on a moonlit stage bare but for the ruins of a great house and a leafless tree. The Old Man declares that the house is still inhabited, by the ghost of his mother, heir to the estate, who brought destruction on it when she married his low-born, wastrel father. A light comes on in a shattered window ...

Nothing Is Unmixed

Michael Wood: Shakespeare’s Vows, 27 July 2016

Shakespeare’s Binding Language 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 622 pp., £35, March 2016, 978 0 19 875758 0
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... There is a touch​ of Shylock in this,’ John Kerrigan says of a moment in King Lear. There are touches of Shylock in many places outside The Merchant of Venice, and indeed outside Shakespeare altogether, but this one is of unusual interest. It is in Cordelia’s speech responding to her father’s question about which of his daughters loves him most – well, to be precise, which of his daughters he is to say loves him most ...

Getting Even

Adam Phillips, 19 September 1996

Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 404 pp., £40, April 1996, 0 19 812186 5
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Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Oxford, 110 pp., £20, June 1996, 0 19 818371 2
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... were we to need reminding – that a death has meaning. ‘Tragedy, which might be noble,’ John Kerrigan remarks, ‘always, just the same, means waste’; as though some imagined economy has gone awry. Either there’s an anomaly in the system, or there’s no system. What happened at Dunblane is called a tragedy because we take it for granted ...

‘Where’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’

Michael Dobson: 17th-century literary culture, 11 September 2008

Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 599 pp., March 2008, 978 0 19 818384 6
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... taken. Then the Troubles flared up again; and the IRA bombing campaign came to the mainland; and John McGrath wrote The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil; and suddenly it was 1974, and there were two close-run general elections, and not only did the Ulster Unionists matter even in England, but so did a couple of hitherto obscure and eccentric ...

Mrs Shakespeare

Barbara Everett, 18 December 1986

William Shakespeare: The Sonnets and ‘A Lover’s Complaint’ 
edited by John Kerrigan.
Viking, 458 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 670 81466 0
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... must be partly the help more recently given by such learned work on the art of inscriptions as John Sparrow’s, whose Visible Words, Line upon Line and Lapidaria are gratefully quoted in this and the following paragraph. For some three hundred years after the mid-15th century, a new art born in Italy swept Europe, accompanying the greater visual ...

In the Workshop

Tom Paulin: Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 22 January 1998

The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 672 pp., £23.50, December 1997, 0 674 63712 7
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Shakespeare's Sonnets 
edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones.
Arden, 503 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 1 903436 57 5
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... be equally true of its paraphrasable content.’ Taking issue with a recent editor of the Sonnets, John Kerrigan, she points to his lack of interest in the linguistic variation in sonnet 129, and says he takes ‘a single-minded expository view of the poem, as though it were a self-consistent sermon’. For Vendler, the verbal imagination’s true intent ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin, 12 May 1994

Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... takes centre stage for a time – displaced by other violent attention-getters like Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, Singapore’s caning sentence to punish an American teenager, the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ Congressional proposal to jail for life those convicted of three ...

Productive Mischief

Michael Wood: Borges and Borges and I, 4 February 1999

Collected Fictions 
by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Allen Lane, 565 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 14 028680 2
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... so to the extent that he is successful we hear what he hears. But then what do we hear in Anthony Kerrigan’s Ficciones (1962), which has translations by Kerrigan himself, Alastair Reid, Anthony Bonner, Helen Temple and Ruthven Todd? Or in Donald Yates and James Irby’s Labyrinths (1962), with translations mainly by ...

MacDiarmid’s Sticks

C.H. Sisson, 5 April 1984

Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmid: The Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... Was Hugh MacDiarmid a great poet? Was he, as John MacQueen asserts in his Foreword to Catherine Kerrigan’s study, one of ‘the three greatest poets to use English in the 20th century’, the other two being Yeats and Eliot? One can understand MacQueen putting the matter that way, but perhaps it is not the most helpful way when the reputations of Eliot and Yeats are shaking down, in the ordinary process of time, following their immense acclaim ...

Art of Embarrassment

A.D. Nuttall, 18 August 1994

Essays, Mainly Shakespearean 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 386 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 40444 4
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English Comedy 
edited by Michael Cordner, Peter Holland and John Kerrigan.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 521 41917 4
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... persons using the present tense: ‘I do take thee, Bridget, for my wife’; ‘I do take thee, John, for my husband.’ Henry Swinburne, whose Treatise of Spousals was published in 1686 but written a century earlier, is clear that such a contract, without solemnisation, without consummation, constitutes valid, indissoluble marriage. To marry privately in ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters have been edited and annotated in their entirety by Catherine Kerrigan, and they show how many of MacDiarmid’s attitudes and determinations were present in Quartermaster-Sergeant Grieve of Salonika. The young Grieve describes himself as being in ‘mental spate’; his intellectual life is ‘a debating society’, and he ...

Goodbye to Borges

John Sturrock, 7 August 1986

Atlas 
by Jorge Luis Borges, in collaboration with by Maria Kodama, translated by Anthony Kerrigan.
Viking, 95 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 670 81029 0
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Seven Nights 
by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Eliot Weinberger.
Faber, 121 pp., £3.95, June 1986, 0 571 13737 7
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... governess, Miss Tink. Miss Tink, for all the monosyllabic innocence of her name, had a bad cousin, John, who may well also have influenced the child Borges, because he was one of the street-corner ‘hoodlums’ who later fascinated him, partly for being so brave as well as bad, when they fought, and partly because he saw them as ideal compendia of the local ...

Mr Who He?

Stephen Orgel: Shakespeare’s Poems, 8 August 2002

The Complete Sonnets and Poems 
by William Shakespeare, edited by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 750 pp., £65, February 2002, 9780198184317
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... 1640, 24 years after Shakespeare’s death. That edition, however, involved wholesale revision. John Benson, the publisher, capitalising on the undiminished sales of Venus and Adonis, produced a volume of what looked to be not old-fashioned sonnets but new Shakespeare love poems. The transformation involved both format and erotics: many of the sonnets are ...

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