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Copyright

John Sutherland, 2 October 1980

Copyright: Intellectual Property in the Information Age 
by Edward Ploman and L. Clark Hamilton.
Routledge, 248 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 7100 0539 3
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... the end or storytelling. Like many of Benjamin’s paradoxes, this insight is very unsettling to the received idea – oh dear no, the novel doesn’t tell a story after all. Benjamin’s reasoning runs thus: the story (the only current example would be the dirty joke, I imagine) has no identifiable single author and is ...

Diary

Andrew Saint: Foscolo’s Grave, 20 September 2007

... at the age of fifty. Foscolo’s tomb is a cenotaph. ‘From the sacred guardianship of Chiswick to the honours of Santa Croce in Florence the Government and People of Italy have transported the remains of the wearied Citizen Poet 7th June 1871,’ reads the fulsome inscription. ‘This spot where for forty-four years the Relics of Ugo Foscolo Reposed in ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... Now that poetry has been brought into the marketplace, and publishers have discovered how to make a modest profit from it, and now that publication outlets can be found in any good-sized store, so productivity levels in British poetry have increased dramatically. Most poets these days publish a new collection of thirty or forty poems every three or four years; some are more industrious than even that ...

A to Z

Ian Hamilton: Schmidt’s List, 4 March 1999

Lives of the Poets 
by Michael Schmidt.
Weidenfeld, 960 pp., £22, October 1998, 0 297 84014 2
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A Critical Difference: T.S. Eliot and John Middleton Murry in English Literary Criticism, 1919-28 
by David Goldie.
Oxford, 232 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 19 812379 5
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... Yalden, Hammond, Stepney, Fenton (Elijah) and Hughes (John): where are you now? Ten of the 52 poets represented in Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets fail to make an appearance in the Oxford Companion to English Literature. On its own, of course, this doesn’t prove a thing ...
Sleaze: Politicians, Private Interests and Public Reaction 
edited by F.F. Ridley and Alan Doig.
Oxford, 222 pp., £10.99, April 1996, 0 19 922273 8
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Changing Trains: The Autobiography of Steven Norris 
Hutchinson, 273 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 0 09 180212 1Show More
The Quango Debate 
edited by F.F. Ridley and David Wilson.
Oxford, 188 pp., £10.99, September 1995, 9780199222384
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... The abject surrender of Neil Hamilton, the ‘envelope man’ who changed the law so that he could sue the Guardian for libel, deprived the nation of an exhilarating and informative court case. When the Guardian alleged that Hamilton, Tory MP for Tatton, had taken money from Mohammed AI Fayed, chairman of Harrods to lobby Parliament against a Department of Trade inquiry which eventually denounced Fayed as a liar, the cocky MP announced that he was at last going to get even with the liberal press ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’, 12 September 2013

... Me?’ My mother had placed the pamphlets there in the hope that when my father tried to find a corkscrew or a book of matches he would see the bold question and finally ask it of himself. I don’t know whether any of my brothers remember this, but I do, or the writer in me does, as if the question was quite ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Wold Cup for Alexithymics, 15 July 1982

... June 25th: the first phase of the World Cup ended yesterday with England stumbling to a narrow victory over Kuwait and with Northern Ireland somehow getting through their game against Spain without conceding a penalty. And on Monday, the serious bit starts. A nice moment, I had thought, to venture a few pundit-like predictions for you to scoff at (or admire) in ten days’ time ...

Call me unpretentious

Ian Hamilton, 20 October 1994

Major Major: Memories of an Older Brother 
by Terry Major-Ball.
Duckworth, 167 pp., £12.95, August 1994, 0 7156 2631 0
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... When John Major ascended to 10 Downing Street, the wits were at first unsure quite how to set about him. There was the obvious, the elementary ‘grey’ approach: the Burton suits, the haircut, the delicious fry-ups and so on. On this reading, Major could be presented as a drearier-than-either cross between James Stewart and J ...

The Triumph of Plunder

James Morone: Gore Vidal on the venal history of America, 23 September 2004

Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson 
by Gore Vidal.
Yale, 198 pp., £8.99, September 2004, 0 300 10592 4
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... of jeremiads. Everywhere they look, they see flabby morals and flagging virtue. Children? We used to punish them for whispering in class, now they come to school with guns. Families? No one wants to get married any more, except the gays. Government? Never so bloated and corrupt. Our ...

Glittering Fiend

Ian Hamilton: John Berryman, 9 December 1999

Berryman's Shakespeare 
edited by John Haffenden.
Farrar, Straus, 396 pp., $35, February 1999, 0 374 11205 3
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John Berryman’s Personal Library: A Catalogue 
by Richard Kelly.
Lang, 433 pp., £39, March 1999, 0 8204 3998 3
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... In one of John Berryman’s more lucid dream songs (No. 364), there is amusing reference to the reading habits of Henry, the song sequence’s screwed up protagonist: O Henry in his youth read many things he gutted the Columbia – the Cambridge libraries – Widener – Princeton – the British Museum – the Library of Congress but mostly he bought books to have as his own cunningly, like extra wings ...

Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton, 24 April 1997

... I do not come to Lilliputia with a measuring stick.’ This was Gore Vidal, a week or two ago, when asked to say which of our two main parties was the more right-wing. The British election, in Gore’s lofty view, is ‘parish-pump politics’, a juvenile charade compared to America’s great billion-dollar circuses ...

The Embryo Caesar

Eric Foner: After Hamilton, 14 December 2017

The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering The Story of an Early American Crisis 
by James E. Lewis Jr..
Princeton, 715 pp., £27.95, November 2017, 978 0 691 17716 8
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... Nearly a century and a half later, the country’s geographic outline – stretching from coast to coast, with Maine, Florida and Texas sticking out at various angles – is instantly recognisable and so ingrained in our imagination as to seem unquestionable. But as the historian Steven Hahn recently pointed out in his ...

Showboating

John Upton: George Carman, 9 May 2002

No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman 
by Dominic Carman.
Hodder, 331 pp., £18.99, January 2002, 0 340 82098 5
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... the terror evoked in the press by the mere mention of Carman’s name had led the Telegraph to forget that the dead can’t sue for libel, because as anyone who has frequented the pubs and wine bars around the Temple would confirm, George Carman did not lead a quiet life. In the 1980s and 1990s it was usual ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... On the dust-jacket of the latest supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography there are photographs of David Niven, Diana Dors, Eric Morecambe, John Betjeman and William Walton. Dors has a leering ‘Come up and read me sometime’ expression on her face and Niven wears his yacht-club greeter’s smile ...

Redeemable Bad Guy

Ian Hamilton: Rabbit and Zooey, 2 April 1998

Toward the End of Time 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 334 pp., £16.99, February 1998, 0 241 13862 0
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Golf Dreams 
by John Updike.
Penguin, 224 pp., £6.99, February 1998, 0 14 026156 7
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... its wry but persistent hopefulness, matches the shape and tint of present America.’ This was John Updike in 1961, saying of J.D. Salinger what critics since have been saying of John Updike: that here is a novelist uncannily responsive to the ‘personality’, if we can use the ...

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