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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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... 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 out by Nouveau, not Rimbaud, and in the sensational city ...

Short Cuts

Jon Day: The Journey of the Eel, 11 August 2016

... 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 were then the neglected waterways of north-east London ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones, 10 July 2003

... 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 possible was the work of D.H. Ring – born, you might ...

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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... 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 it’s not so much that ...

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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... 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 about the Forties and Fifties. We won’t find, for ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... 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 girlfriend; and Tracy Bell, a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst, who ...

Short Cuts

Adam Shatz: The Four-Year Assault, 21 January 2021

... a pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr had preached, and Jon Ossoff, who had interned with the Georgia civil rights hero, John Lewis, who died last July. (Warnock presided at Lewis’s funeral.) And on the morning of 6 January, both Warnock and Ossoff were declared victors in the Georgia run-offs, allowing the ...

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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... 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 (1924) pits the values of the effete East against the ...

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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... 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 diminish the House of Commons, an unthinkable ...

Who’s the real cunt?

Andrew O’Hagan: Dacre’s Paper, 1 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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... 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 family values that made him such a darling of the ...

The Age of Detesting Trump

David Bromwich, 13 July 2017

... 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 houses of Congress as well as the presidency and the Supreme ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... 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 Nidderdale I feel I’m entitled to a cab. Still, as Anthony ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... 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 had the prime minister to talk to. ‘What happened at ...

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