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... of representing one’s own view while treating others with fairness. For traditional Unionism in Northern Ireland, other points of view have never actually existed. To this day, as they boast about the proposals which they have placed before the British Government about the future of Northern Ireland – the future of us ...

The Archaeology of Childhood

John Burnside, 23 May 2002

... by Fulford Pond, one of the mammals I knew from nature books, some vivid creature from the distant North: the Arctic fox; a sudden wolverine. In stories, the animals talk. Their faces are maps; they come to us with gifts or riddles in the still of afternoon when snow begins to fall – a covenant too subtle for the gods we answer to. I used to think the ...

Black Dog

John Stammers, 14 December 2006

... on their toy typewriters; the sea-lions bring down a gazelle; the eels walk on two legs to the north gate and go home. I feel a sensation of overwhelming disgust. I make myself turn and leave the side of the ...

Want of Understanding

John Burnside, 22 November 2018

... house, or Perilous, when flocks of geese rise, month-long, from the fields and arc towards the north, I drown my vows and start again, one heartbeat at a time, till swallows map the lanes from spire to spire with mint and ozone, summering the ...


Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... sunrise at Stonehenge. How was that image created? The Stonehenge connection goes back to John Aubrey, who first recognised the monuments at Avebury in 1649 and then spent nearly fifty years writing and talking about, but never quite finishing, his projected Templa Druidum. He was followed by William Stukeley, Anglican clergyman and ‘pagan ...


Seamus Deane, 30 December 1982

Selected Poems 
by John Montague.
Oxford, 189 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 19 211950 8
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Ghosts at my Back 
by Tom Rawling.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3.95, June 1982, 0 19 211951 6
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A Late Harvest 
by John Ward.
Peterloo, 48 pp., £3, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... John Montague’s Selected Poems reinforce the impression left by his individual volumes: that of a great talent growing increasingly apprehensive at the conditions in which it must be exercised. Since 1958, when his first volume Forms of Exile appeared, he has been renowned for a certain elegance and formality of phrasing, and for a nervous delicacy of rhythm: these bestowing upon his poems an air of fragility which has to survive the often desperate occasions which initiate them ...

Three Poems

John Levett, 6 June 1985

... Bunker Day breaks and the night steams North, Its pitch-dark barges heading for Cape Rigor and the Land of Truth, Perfection’s speculative glare; The seas ice over and preserve Their endlessly refractive coast, An empty and eternal curve, Light packed against the polar frost. These August nights are nothing more Than souped-up evenings, sweat-soaked sheets, Or coming to on someone’s floor And morning’s featherweight retreats; And even when we die we live Hopped up in someone’s latest suit, Pumped full of sour preservative, Our grin set at the absolute, For several sticky nights at least Until we’re spaded in or burn And flames or worms or poltergeist Snap down the lid on our return ...

No Longer Merely the Man Who Ate His Boots

Thomas Jones: The Northwest Passage, 27 May 2010

Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage 
by Glyn Williams.
Allen Lane, 440 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 84614 138 6
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Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation 
by Andrew Lambert.
Faber, 428 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 571 23160 7
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... men beyond the edges of the old maps. Glyn Williams’s Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage is an engrossing account of four centuries of exploration, as expedition after expedition tried to negotiate a course through the vast, multitudinous, close-set and ice-locked archipelago to the north of the ...

John Cheever’s Wapshot Annals

Graham Hough, 7 February 1980

The Wapshot Chronicle 
by John Cheever.
Harper and Row, 549 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 06 337007 7
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Florence Avenue 
by Elizabeth North.
Gollancz, 158 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 575 02680 4
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McKay’s Bees 
by Thomas McMahon.
Constable, 198 pp., £4.95, November 1980, 0 09 463120 4
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The Siesta 
by Patrice Chaplin.
Duckworth, 174 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7156 1459 2
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... John Cheever’s two celebrated novels, The Wapshot Chronicle and The Wapshot Scandal, are now reissued in one volume. In this form, we can see that the two are really one and the end was always implied in the beginning. We are often told that the American novel is not very deeply rooted in the social world, that in a society so fluid and so quickly changing fiction hardly has time to take stock of the way things actually work and tends to blow up into some kind of surreal fantasy ...


Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire, 22 September 1994

... Gerald Seymour novel and reach over to turn the radio off. Then I recognise the voice – it’s John Humphrys on Today. I concentrate. On the Falls, apparently, men with hard, cold eyes used to stare sullenly from behind the iron railings that surround the pubs and clubs, planning their next operation. It is Day One, Thursday 1 September. The IRA ...


John Tranter, 15 September 1988

... an epoch, spelling Humanism. Those ice reefs repeat the motto whispered by the snow-drifts on the north side of the woods and model villages: the sun has a favourite leaning, and the Nordic flaw is a glow alcohol can fan into a flame. And what is this truth that holds the grey shaking metal whole while we believe in it? The radar keeps its sweeping ...

Two Poems

John Burnside, 20 September 2001

... road to the Brensholmen ferry: snow gentians, mineral blue and perfect, like a child’s idea of north; but here is all marshland and water between the fields where they still cut and rake the hay with tools that are heirlooms. Two types of bog-cotton grow: torvull and duskull; and lady’s mantle: Alchemilla mollis; marikåpe. On the high road, over the ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... Shortly after the Canary Wharf bomb, John Major, speaking in the House of Commons, said: ‘As for the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA, I think that they are both members one of another.’ Sinn Fein, he continued, would now have to decide whether it wanted to be a constitutional party or continue as a front for the IRA ...

Advantage Pyongyang

Richard Lloyd Parry, 9 May 2013

The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future 
by Victor Cha.
Bodley Head, 527 pp., £14.99, August 2012, 978 1 84792 236 6
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... from Japan to Uzbekistan. In 2004, South Korean manufacturers began to set up factories in the North Korean city of Kaesong, an unprecedented experiment in co-operation between the fraternal enemies, and the core of what the South Korean government called its Sunshine Policy. Along with South Korean managers, manufacturing technology, telephone lines and a ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Blair’s Convictions, 24 May 2007

... performance that Tony Blair put on last week in the uterine comfort of his constituency in the North-East: that other Labour Party could never have followed him so slavishly wherever he chose to take them in the wake of George Bush, would have known it needed at all costs to replace him for its own long-term good, let alone ours, and so never allowed him ...

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