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Unction and Slaughter

Simon Walker: Edward IV

10 July 2003
Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV 
by Jonathan Hughes.
Sutton, 354 pp., £30, October 2002, 0 7509 1994 9
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... attentively, seeking in them some sense of the accepted principles that constrained, if they did not determine, the pursuit of political life. It is within this context of political mentalities that JonathanHughes situates his study of the Duke of York’s charismatic eldest son, Edward IV. Edward has always received a mixed historiographical press. Contemporaries recognised and celebrated his energy ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes​ in His Cage

17 March 2016
Ted HughesThe Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan​ Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... So much​ in the life and work of Ted Hughes was weird and transgressive that even now, 18 years after his death, it is hard to feel confident that his actions and beliefs and literary achievement can be judiciously and authoritatively assessed ...

Cover Stories

Patrick Parrinder

4 April 1985
Lives of the Poets: A Novella and Six Stories 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 145 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 7181 2529 0
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The Pork Butcher 
by David Hughes.
Constable, 123 pp., £5.95, April 1984, 0 09 465510 3
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Out of the Blue 
by John Milne.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11489 6
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... of the Poets’, the novella which takes up nearly half of Doctorow’s new book, is full of tales of men trying to escape from the institution of marriage. (Every middle-aged man his own Houdini?) Jonathan, the narrator of ‘Lives of the Poets’, has gone to earth in a pied-à-terre in Greenwich Village, leaving his wife stranded in upstate New York. Jonathan’s solitude is supposedly for writing in ...

White Boy Walking

Evan Hughes: Jonathan​ Lethem

5 July 2007
You Don’t Love Me Yet 
by Jonathan​ Lethem.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, May 2007, 978 0 571 23562 9
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... When Jonathan Lethem was born, in 1964, his mother had dropped out of college and was piercing ears with a pin and ice-cube in Greenwich Village, where she ran with a crowd of folksingers including Tuli Kupferberg ...

Something good

H. Stuart Hughes

13 September 1990
All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943 
by Jonathan​ Steinberg.
Routledge, 320 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 415 04757 9
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... Government formally asked the Italian Government to hand them over. Mussolini agreed; a handful of Italian diplomats and generals said no. Such is the tangled and perplexing sequence of events that Jonathan Steinberg undertakes to unravel. He adds that the same story occurred in Greece, and subsequently in South-Eastern France following the Allied landings in North Africa and the Axis takeover of what ...

As If

Jonathan​ Romney: ‘Cahiers du cinéma’

9 September 2010
A Short History of ‘Cahiers du cinéma’ 
by Emilie Bickerton.
Verso, 156 pp., £12.99, March 2010, 978 1 84467 232 5
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... This tendency persists today: in recent issues, Serge Bozon mentions Diderot’s Recherches philosophiques sur l’origine et la nature du beau in an article on the Hollywood comedy directors John Hughes and Judd Apatow, while Cyril Béghin compares a shot in Avatar to Tintoretto’s The Finding of the Body of St Mark. The most famous of Cahiers’ early statements – and the one that most directly ...

Funny Water

Frank Kermode: Raban at Sea

20 January 2000
Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings 
by Jonathan​ Raban.
Picador, 435 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 0 330 34628 8
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... Jonathan Raban is afraid of the sea, saying it is not his element, which is probably why he spends so much time on it. He does not claim to be a world-class sailor, though he is obviously a competent one. One ...
6 July 1989
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... were doubtless confirmed in their view that it was too dangerous to have Wallace wandering round free. Three months later Wallace was arrested, found guilty of the manslaughter of his friend Jonathan Lewis, and bundled off to jail – whence he only emerged in December 1986. As Foot persuasively argues, there were many oddities in the way the Sussex Police made their case against Wallace. In ...

Snap Me

Peter Howarth: ‘A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry’

5 October 2016
Poetic Artifice: A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry 
by Veronica Forrest-Thomson, edited by Gareth Farmer.
Shearsman, 238 pp., £16.95, April 2016, 978 1 84861 445 1
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... page.’ Veronica Forrest-Thomson has been trying to rescue Sylvia Plath’s ‘Purdah’ from the critics who think the poem is a straightforward confession of her desire to avenge herself on Ted Hughes. ‘Why she should have bothered to write poems if this was what she wanted to say is of course not explained,’ Forrest-Thomson remarks tartly. ‘It is taken to be enough that she was a poet ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott

23 May 2019
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... Literary Brat Pack, Manhattan’s bohemian answer to Hollywood’s Brat Pack (Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald – almost any actor who appeared in a John Hughes teen film qualified). The Literary Brat Pack was a journalistic readymade, roping together a number of writers who may have scarcely known each other and treating them as a floating soirée. It was ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’

2 January 2003
... father, was thought to be into the black market and that Maggie used to hang out of her bedroom window and spit on the other children. 12 February. A shoddy programme about the conviction of Jonathan King for offences against young men dating back twenty-five years and more. While it features some of the police involved, it manages not to ask the pertinent question: if these 15-year-old boys had ...
20 August 1981
Working with Structuralism 
by David Lodge.
Routledge, 207 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 7100 0658 6
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... in, and offer interpretations of, individual texts. This is not the purpose of ‘classical’ structuralism, as I have already mentioned. Indeed, there is a strong feeling among purists, witness Jonathan Culler’s new book The Pursuit of Signs, that interpretation is the devil’s own temptation, and that all manner of people who might be expected to know better tend to yield to it. But Lodge is ...

Indoor Raincoat

Lavinia Greenlaw: Joy Division

22 April 2015
So This Is Permanence: Joy Division Lyrics and Notebooks 
by Ian Curtis, edited by Deborah Curtis and Jon Savage.
Faber, 304 pp., £27, October 2014, 978 0 571 30955 9
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... a scholarship boy who won prizes for divinity and history, wore nail polish and borrowed his sister’s fun-fur jacket. He took Deborah to hear David Bowie and Lou Reed, and read her Oscar Wilde, Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn. He showed her a ring binder containing sections labelled ‘Lyrics’ and ‘Novel’. ‘I felt privileged that he had trusted me enough to let me see the extent of his ambitions ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder

28 January 1993
The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... had little interest in or knowledge of contemporary English writing. Critical Quarterly set out to remedy this, promoting such new arrivals on the literary scene as William Golding, Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin and Sylvia Plath, all of whom soon became effectively canonised by their presence on school syllabuses. Critical Quarterly was committed to the centrality of poetry, fiction and drama ...
21 August 1997
The Dumb House 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 198 pp., £9.99, May 1997, 0 224 04207 6
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A Normal Skin 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 61 pp., £7, May 1997, 0 224 04286 6
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... We live against the silence of/imagined bears’; ‘We have been lost/in our house for years.’ Adult responsibilities are represented as almost unbelievably dull. In The Society of the Poem Jonathan Raban argued that a significant number of post-Movement poets accepted the daily rituals of the postwar world as nearly sufficient for the inner life: ‘The imprints of the same mass images, the ...

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