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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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... is an incident from the War of the Spanish Succession. The thread of history stretches from Charles II, last of the Spanish Habsburgs: from his dead hands across an ocean, to the bound hands of JohnWilliams, 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 ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams​ Made it Work

9 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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... In​ the summer of 1963, between the appearance of Thomas Pynchon’s first book and the Beatles’ second long-player, JohnWilliams, 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 ...

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. What ought to be an endearment was ...

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 ...

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. The liquor is lethal, but chew the ...

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. Witchcraft’s what we need. A diabolic rite ...

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 ...

I Inspect the Storm

John​ Hartley Williams

21 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 ...

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. ‘The upgrade, too ...

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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... should be learnt and practised – can bring them back to us, just as the pieties of religious practice could and should depend upon keeping the past alive on its own terms. The valuable thing about JohnWilliams’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 ...

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. Its self-important air. An advice bird. Rising ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. You could ...

Examples

Denis Donoghue

2 February 1984
Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... other people’s abstractions), and a general preference for non-systematised or pluralist theories of political life’. The writers Inglis presents under this rubric are William Morris, T.H. Green, John Maynard Keynes, R.G. Collingwood, F.R. Leavis, George Orwell, Adrian Stokes, Tony Crosland – as he calls him – Richard Titmuss, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, John Berger, E.P. Thompson and ...

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