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Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud

9 October 2003
Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur Rimbaud: Presence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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by Graham​ Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... sees ‘the West End, with its squares and terraces’ in ‘Cities [I]’, Jean-Luc Steinmetz tells us that Rimbaud was keen to show Nouveau the Crystal Palace – ‘the virtual-reality dome’, as Graham Robb calls it. And there, perhaps, is the source of the fantastical dome of the Sainte-Chapelle in the poem, vastly oversized and raised on a massive modern metal frame. ‘Cities [I]’ was copied ...

Short Cuts

Jon​ Day: The Journey of the Eel

10 August 2016
... used the gag before. I had volunteered for the project because I’d spent the last six months stuck in my house reading novels and I wanted to get out. I’d been interested in eels since reading Graham Swift’s Waterland, in which he describes the curious life-cycle of these fish and I was intrigued by what the river on my doorstep might contain. As a boy I was an obsessive angler, exploring what ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones

10 July 2003
... The idea fills me with horror, not so much because I like to slope off to the pub after curfew as out of vanity. No doubt I’ll come round: 40 million of us have got used to the audio-only kind. Jon Agar’s Constant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone (Icon, £9.99) considers the social as well as technological aspects of the phenomenon. The conceptual breakthrough that makes mobiles ...

All together

Humphrey Carpenter

7 December 1989
The Safest Place in the World: A Personal History of British Rhythm and Blues 
by Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Quartet, 178 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7043 2696 5
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Mama said there’d be days like these: My Life in the Jazz World 
by Val Wilmer.
Women’s Press, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5040 8
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Lenya: A Life 
by Donald Spoto.
Viking, 371 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 670 81211 0
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... collectives tend to drift in several directions at once. ‘Increasingly through Colosseum’s history,’ he writes of one of the most successful bands to which he has belonged, and of its leader, Jon Hiseman, the other members of the band had little idea of what Jon Hiseman had to put up with ... Hiseman [is] efficient ... he sees what has to be done, and once it’s seen he does it. I suspect ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Spender suggests that he has slipped out of contention – either because his true worth has yet to be assessed, or because it finally has been. There are also some welcome defining presences. W.S. Graham is well represented with different poems in both anthologies, restoring a seminal poet to rightful prominence. There are omissions, especially of poets who challenge received opinions, particularly ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden

7 January 2016
... at the Sun, which hadn’t even been under investigation. Among the first officials to be arrested were Richard Trunkfield, a prison officer who had sold details about James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables; Alan Tierney, a Surrey police constable who was paid £1250 for passing information that John Terry’s mother had been cautioned for shoplifting, and Ronnie Wood for assaulting his ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland

17 July 1997
Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... novels, set in the White Mountains of Arizona. The Mysterious Rider (1921) is a lyrical reworking of the Perdita theme, set in Colorado. The heavily researched To the Last Man (1922) deals with the Graham-Tewksbury feud in Texas and Arizona. The Wanderer of the Wasteland (1923) is a long and ambitious reworking of the Cain and Abel myth set, as the title implies, in the desert. The Call of the Canyon ...

Bevan’s Boy

R.W. Johnson

24 March 1994
Michael Foot 
by Mervyn Jones.
Gollancz, 570 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 575 05197 3
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... would win by such bravura performances, for it was assumed that conversion to socialism was an experience akin to being saved, achieved through the inspired oratory of an apostle, whether a Billy Graham or an Aneurin Bevan. Such spirituality found the material world quite repulsive. Thus Foot objected to the EEC because it would mean joining ‘the rich nations’ club’. And, of course, it would ...

Who’s the real cunt?

Andrew O’Hagan: Dacre’s Paper

21 June 2017
Mail Men: The Unauthorised Story of the ‘Daily Mail’, the Paper that Divided and Conquered Britain 
by Adrian Addison.
Atlantic, 407 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 78239 970 4
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... words. Dacre’s spiritual mentor was John Junor of the Sunday Express, a man who thought that men who drink white wine are ‘poofters’ and believed, according to the paper’s literary editor Graham Lord, ‘that Aids was a fair punishment for buggery’. According to a memoir written by Junor’s daughter, Penny, the great editor and columnist bullied his wife and children while proclaiming the ...
12 July 2017
... but with a government that has somehow been relegitimated. Apart from the Republican Freedom Caucus blocking Trump’s first modifications of Obamacare and the push by the neoconservatives McCain and Graham for immediate US military assertion against Russia, there has been almost no sign among Republicans of any deviation from an opportunistic solidarity with the president. The Republicans own both ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007

3 January 2008
... cocktails with the American ambassador. Regretfully declining the invitation, I felt that to tell him what I was planning to do instead might have seemed inappropriate. On the train back I run into Jon Snow, who is returning from Bradford where he has been making a programme about the decline of the city. I note that at Kings Cross, unlike me, he goes home by Tube, whereas after the rigours of ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan

7 June 2018
... for him and for Grenfell United, and told me they might reply and they might not. (They didn’t.) Daffarn’s days of writing to the council were long gone, and now he did half-hour interviews with Jon Snow on Channel Four News, unchallenged. (Many people liked being asked to provide opinions, but they didn’t want to be asked to provide evidence, and they gently slid away.) Grenfell United also ...

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