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3 November 1983
The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Agenda and Deutsch, 31 pp., £3, April 1983, 0 233 97549 7
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... In the issue of Agenda for Spring 1983 there is an essay by Geoffrey Hill which will obviously become required reading for anyone who is seriously interested in his poetry. ‘Our word is our bond’ is in many ways an apologia for Hill’s view of poetry and, more particularly, for his sense of himself as poet. It is as dense and allusive as much of his poetry, and so closely argued that it’s almost ...

Fallen Language

Donald Davie

21 June 1984
The Lords of Limit: Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Deutsch, 203 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 233 97581 0
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... in The Lords of Limit, a volume which, it must be said, in everything from format to price does very great credit to the publishers. This particular essay has provoked in another attentive reader, JohnLucas (LRB, Vol. 5, No 20), the reflection that ‘language cannot be innocent.’ But surely it needs to be remarked that whereas indeed the British English that Hill and Lucas share cannot be in ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties

1 April 1999
The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... civilisation’ striking back. The ‘Georgians’ buried their heads: between 1912 and 1922 Edward Marsh stubbornly published best-selling poetry collections, featuring Walter de la Mare, John Drinkwater, Harold Monro, Rupert Brooke, Wilfrid Blunt, nervously commemorating a threatened pastoral. Other writers, more diffident or isolated, threw in their lot with entropy: Charlotte Mew’s ...

For ever England

John Lucas

16 June 1983
Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... With the appearance of Sherston’s Progress in 1936, Siegfried Sassoon completed what Howard Spring, writing in the Evening Standard, called ‘the most satisfying piece of autobiography to be published in our time’. Other reviewers and commentators, then and later, seem to have agreed with Spring’s assessment. Not Hugh MacDiarmid, however. In a poem which contrasts those who went to fight in ...

Footpaths

Tom Shippey

26 July 1990
England and Englishness: Ideas of Nationhood in English Poetry, 1688-1900 
by John Lucas.
Hogarth, 227 pp., £18, February 1990, 0 7012 0892 9
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The Englishman’s England: Taste, Travel and the Rise of Tourism 
by Ian Ousby.
Cambridge, 244 pp., £45, February 1990, 0 521 37374 3
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Fleeting Things: English Poets and Poems, 1616-1660 
by Gerald Hammond.
Harvard, 394 pp., £24.95, March 1990, 0 674 30625 2
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... the English are indifferent to national feeling in all but games – where, however, they insist on retaining it and FIFA be damned – what is this about ‘Englishness’? It is this question that JohnLucas sets himself to answer, in considering the poetry of two centuries. He has one immediate cultural handicap: he cannot refrain from sniping at his own side (the English), as if to provide ...

Cut-Ups

Robert Crawford

7 December 1989
Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... isn’t a poem in the collection called ‘Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman’. ‘Grease’ (‘Grease is obviously having an affair with me’) is definitely about the real stuff as opposed to the John Travolta variety, and works because it’s wry and faithful to its subject, without straining after the big effects that phrases like ‘the geography of my thighs’ or ‘cosmic spite’ announce ...

Raining

Donald Davie

5 May 1983
Later Poems 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 333 34560 6
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Thomas Hardy Annual, No 1 
edited by Norman Page.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 333 32022 0
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Tess of the d’Urbervilles 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell.
Oxford, 636 pp., £50, March 1983, 0 19 812495 3
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Hardy’s Love Poems 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Carl Weber.
Macmillan, 253 pp., £3.95, February 1983, 0 333 34798 6
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. I: Wessex Poems, Poems of the Past and the Present, Time’s Laughingstocks 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 403 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 19 812708 1
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... For inside twenty years, with astonishing velocity, Hardy has been lifted from ‘old stager’ status, briefly elevated as the great modern poet that independent witnesses like Yvor Winters and John Crowe Ransom had always considered him, and in many quarters is now being just as promptly and precipitately returned to the Victorian cobwebs. What has done most damage – and understandably, since ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... from a variety of increasingly improbable authors and sources, all in the same green ink: W.H. Laudanum, Kenelme Sexnoth Pope, H.N. (Helga Nevvadotoomuch, c/o Lord Godmanchester (Gumster), The John Peelcroft Hadmanchester Podgoets, Night Slide Clubb, P.O. Box 1AA, BBC-wise, W.1, and others. The translations were just as elastic as these cartoon-rubber composites. In the Robert Lowell version ...

Star Warrior

John​ Sutherland

6 October 1983
Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas 
by Dale Pollock.
Elm Tree, 304 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 241 11034 3
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Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided 
by Leslie Fiedler.
Oxford, 236 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 503086 9
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... George Lucas is the most money-successful film-maker there has ever been. Of the eight films he has directed or produced (he eludes the conventional Hollywood division of labour), Star Wars and The empire strikes ...
4 November 1993
The Green Knight 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 472 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 6030 6
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... of how we are to take Iris Murdoch’s characters (indeed, whether we can take them at all) is raised, even before we get to know them, by their names. In The Green Knight we have to contend with Lucas and Clement Graffe, Harvey Blacket, Bellamy James and his dog Anax, the Anderson women – Louise and her daughters Alethea (Aleph), Sophia (Sefton) and Moira (Moy) – Emil and Clive and the ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone

1 October 1998
Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... American realism, once a belief, is now an idle liberty. Writers such as Robert Stone, Joan Didion, John Irving and even Don DeLillo, are praised for their ‘realism’, for the solidity of their plots, the patience of their characterisation, the capillary spread of their social portraits, the leverage ...

Pentecost

John​ Burnside

19 June 2003
... For Lucas Morning; the usual walk to the harbour: the tide half-out the fat mud fretted with bird-prints light slurred with oil and slicked reflections ice white or coffee brown strawberry red or a blue that ...
18 May 2016
... for Lucas There is too much light in the world to bear the weight of Euclid, too much fog, with shore birds, bright in the salt-water channels thinning the sands, the Black-Tailed Godwit, the Curlew ...
25 February 1993
Divided we stand: Britain, the US and the Suez Crisis 
by W. Scott Lucas.
Hodder, 399 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 340 53666 7
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Blind Loyalty: Australia and the Suez Crisis 
by W.J. Hudson.
Melbourne, 157 pp., £12.50, November 1991, 0 522 84394 8
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... been by an encounter he witnessed on the 17th of that month. He had accompanied his Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to visit the American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who had been discovered to have cancer during the week of the Suez war. Towards the end of the conversation, Dulles suddenly asked ‘Selwyn, why did you stop? Why didn’t you go ...

Strangers

John​ Lanchester

11 July 1991
Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... not more than 5948. The number within this group committed by the serial murderer is unknown.’ The horrifying nature of these statistics is compounded by the case-histories they conceal. Henry Lee Lucas, subject of the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, is currently on death row in Texas. He claims to have murdered 360 people across a range of states in the American South; the Police claim to ...

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