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Eunice’s Story

Hilary Mantel, 20 October 1994

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America 
by John Demos.
Knopf, 325 pp., $25, July 1994, 0 394 55782 4
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... II, last of the Spanish Habsburgs: from his dead hands across an ocean, to the bound hands of John Williams, a minister of religion in Deerfield, a small settlement in New England. Europe’s conflicts are echoed and mimicked in this precarious, snow-bound frontier territory. The winter of 1703 to 1704 had been a season of ugly rumour, of a defensive ...

My Real Name is Stanley Kubrick

John Hartley Williams, 9 April 2009

... It was Thursday and the skeletons were out dancing as was their custom in the beetroot and the wintry sun shone down on their fragile paleness and the earth crunched under bony feet. No film made by actresses with bad breath could rival their dialogues of ‘Boo!’ and ‘Gotcha!’ In this film scripted by a weather forecaster everyone misremembered their lines ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams Made it Work, 19 December 2019

The Man who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’ and the Writing Life 
by Charles Shields.
Texas, 305 pp., £23.99, October 2018, 978 1 4773 1736 5
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Nothing but the Night 
by John Williams.
NYRB, 144 pp., $14.95, February 2019, 978 1 68137 307 2
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... between the appearance of Thomas Pynchon’s first book and the Beatles’ second long-player, John Williams, a professor at the University of Denver, sent his agent in New York a draft of his latest novel, which detailed the unhappy marriage, undistinguished career and early death from cancer of an imagined professor at the University of Missouri a ...

I Inspect the Storm

John Hartley Williams, 22 May 2014

... Is that geezer in a suit really a weatherman? He’s dry as a dead tooth and shiny. The prince rides a boat down the lane. Grab his pearls of vapour. Ask him what he does when his bushes rage and bending firs threaten his roof. No, don’t bother. Clouds have engulfed the earth. Wind tears branches off trees. Light has been removed and I’m alone on a hilltop with flashes of zip and thunder groaning blue murder ...

The Kirmes Parade

John Hartley Williams, 8 July 2010

... The flies are devoted to this appassionata. The church tower has magnetised the mob. Nothing but jugglers, stilt-walkers, flame-spitters, the thrashed bells’ lingering throb. Why do they all love that farcical clanging? Christ, we were going to stay in bed today! It feels as if the world is splitting open. They’re putting all its molecules on display ...

My Way

John Hartley Williams, 3 March 2011

... I was delighted to be taken out and shot. It made my day. The following week I was savagely attacked by a gang of what would have been ruffians, but for my welcoming courtesies. They beat me up and left politely. I was charmed. On Friday I was exquisitely arrested, divinely humiliated at my place of work, forced to acknowledge the theft of a period of time in numerous small increments of minutes, seconds even, and all the pretty secretaries wept and my discomfiture thrilled to the raps of the judge’s hammer ...

The Blind Dog

John Hartley Williams, 3 July 2008

... In the Hotel Egalitarian the taps drip, here are containers to catch the water, the bath tub is big enough to hold a dog, but the dog is blind and bumps its nose against the taps and the beds are too short. In the Hotel Egalitarian the grapes festoon the balconies from which it is forbidden to make wine. don’t make wine from the balconies it says in large letters ...

On the Money

John Hartley Williams, 9 March 2006

... Art’s story) When I was young, I coveted the money and the woman, kept coaxing busy blood drops from my reluctant thumb, grumbled out the spell-cracked poems of a sorcerer’s apprentice. No rich. No fetch the ladies, either. Then I saw an ad: ‘Join La Table Ronde,’ it said, ‘accrue the benefits of debt.’ I wrote for details. A pile of bumf arrived, a plastic card ...

Two Poems

John Hartley Williams, 7 June 2007

... America O America, I feel like Superman going weak from proximity to Kryptonite Something has spread a small Donatello of urine Over the tessellated floor of the execution chamber ‘It’ll all be over in a flash,’ they murmur Be quiet this morning, America, be quiet Is this the telephone call of my last-minute reprieve? ‘In America when someone says “I feel happy,”’ she tells me, ‘They really mean it ...

Requiem for a Princess

John Hartley Williams, 22 September 2005

... i) A penguin, a donkey, a piano. Their tinkle-plonky grief. A station trolley rumbling over pavement slabs carries the deceased. Black hearse, black iceberg in a warm dissolving ocean, it sails toward the gulf that it will occupy. The flag is folded small, the folding of a child. Smoothed from the national laundry is a crease. The penguin. Its raised beak ...

Two Poems

John Hartley Williams, 7 September 2006

... Interview Why do you write poetry? Petals, aardvarks, goulash – there is no end to it. I’m sorry . . . ? I, too, am sorry. I am sorry for Petula Misericordia, her unrequited love for Dan Splendid, the mishap with the steam traction engine, for the question that comes next. Obviously poetry is a passion to you? By no means. What is it, after all – a collection of bombazine dildos, lemon-flavoured aertex shirts, letters to the editor and prunes ...

Two Poems

John Hartley Williams, 16 November 2006

... Near Luton Airport Its crest should bear a drinker kneeling, weeping in an hourglass: The Wigmore Arms is not convivial; its smeary panes admit October sun. On the wall, a picture of a tree whose earth is ceiling. Was it spite? Revenge? Or for a laugh? Simple inattentiveness? Or was his face on upside down, the man who screwed it there? frown! you are on camera! ‘A member of our staff’ has brought the food ...

Memory of the Night of 4

John Hartley Williams, 11 March 2010

... after Victor Hugo Two bullets to the head, the child had taken. It was a clean, honest, humble, quiet place. In blessing, above a portrait, hung a palm cross. His aged granny stood there, trembling, lost. In silence, we removed his clothes. His mouth hung open, pale, the eye-life drowned in death. Each arm fell useless from its socket. A boxwood spinning top came spinless from his pocket ...

The big drops start

John Bayley, 7 December 1989

Coleridge: Early Visions 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 409 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 340 28335 1
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Wordsworth: Romantic Poetry and Revolution Politics 
by John Williams.
Manchester, 203 pp., £29.95, November 1989, 0 7190 3168 0
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Sara Coleridge, A Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays 
by Bradford Keyes Mudge.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04443 7
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... could and should depend upon keeping the past alive on its own terms. The valuable thing about John Williams’s book on Wordsworth’s poetry and politics is the way it accepts, perhaps without meaning to, the historicity of its subject, and examines it with a care and insight that are not in the least concerned with our own contemporary needs and ...

The Man without Predicates

Michael Wood: Goethe, 20 July 2000

Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Volume II: Revolution and Reunciation, 1790-1803 
by Nicholas Boyle.
Oxford, 964 pp., £30, February 2000, 0 19 815869 6
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Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy 
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated by John Williams.
Wordsworth, 226 pp., £2.99, November 1999, 1 84022 115 1
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... of the dedicatory poem called ‘Zueignung’, which opens Faust: Part One, are translated by John Williams as What I possess now vanishes before me, And what was lost alone has substance for me. Was ich besitze, seh’ich wie im Weiten, Und was verschwand, wird mir zu                 Wirklichkeiten. The English lines are graceful ...

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