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Sprawson makes a splash

John Bayley, 23 July 1992

Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero 
by Charles Sprawson.
Cape, 307 pp., £15.99, June 1992, 0 224 02730 1
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... the Lawrences stripped and took a swim with him: ‘It’s what people will think!’ The joy of flouting what people will think animated E.M. Forster’s prim persona when he imagined the young men nude in a forest pool in A Room with a View, male naiads disturbed by envious or disapproving women. In the Twenties the cult of swimming athletics made ...

Floating Islands

J.I.M. Stewart, 21 October 1982

Of This and Other Worlds 
by C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper.
Collins, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 00 215608 3
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George Orwell: A Personal Memoir 
by T.R. Fyvel.
Weidenfeld, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 297 78012 3
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... Eight-Four and The Lord of the Rings. Two pieces, an admirable discussion of the novels of Charles Williams and a slightly odd ‘Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers’, are printed for the first time. Near the conclusion of the essay on Williams, he expresses himself as ‘horribly afraid’ that he may have given the ...

How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... But there were moments of real conversation and he spoke of real grievances,’ Adeline Vaughan Williams wrote after one of many visits with her husband, Gurney’s one-time teacher of composition, admirer and longstanding advocate. My own hunch is that other Gurney personae usually written off as lunatic fictions – Michael Flood, Frederick ...

Trounced

C.H. Sisson, 22 February 1990

C.S. Lewis: A Biography 
by A.N. Wilson.
Collins, 334 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 00 215137 5
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... the collection of memorabilia of such Christian writers as George MacDonald, T.S. Eliot, Charles Williams and Tolkien. It is evidence of some sort of fame. A.N. Wilson sees ‘unmistakable and remarkable evidence of something like sanctification which occurred in him towards the end of his days’, but that I do not pretend to be able to judge.Wilson himself ...

Homer and Virgil and Broch

George Steiner, 12 July 1990

Oxford Readings in Vergil’s ‘Aeneid’ 
edited by S.J. Harrison.
Oxford, 488 pp., £45, April 1990, 0 19 814389 3
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... by D.A. West. West and Nicholas Horsfall are each represented by three contributions, as is R.D. Williams. E.L. Harrison figures twice. Some of the essays are celebrated: such as G.N. Knauer’s summary, dated 1964, of the textual and structural relations between the Homeric epics and the Aeneid. Other papers are of a more specialised interest: they include ...

Just one more species doing its best

Richard Rorty, 25 July 1991

The Later Works 1925-1953. Vol. XVII: Miscellaneous Writings, 1885-1953 
by John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann Boydston.
Southern Illinois, 786 pp., $50, August 1990, 0 8093 1661 7
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Dewey 
by J.E. Tiles.
Routledge, 256 pp., £35, December 1988, 0 415 00908 1
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John Dewey and American Democracy 
by Robert Westbrook.
Cornell, 608 pp., $32.95, May 1991, 0 8014 2560 3
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Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank and Lewis Mumford 
by Casey Blake.
North Carolina, 370 pp., $38.45, November 1990, 0 8078 1935 2
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... oneself in Darwin’s rather than Plato’s vocabulary can, or should, take away ‘intellectual joy’. It is not clear what could settle the question of whether Russellian ‘humility’ toward ‘objective truth’ is a more or a less dangerous form of power-worship than Dewey’s thorough-going Darwinism. In his very useful and perceptive account of ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... and royals (Princess Marina, Queen Victoria Eugénie, the Princess Royal). Vera Brittain, Ivy Williams (‘the first woman to be called to the English bar’) and Rachel Crowdy (she ‘belonged to a generation when women had to possess very obvious strength of character if they were to attain recognition’) are the only women who might be described as ...

What Life Says to Us

Stephanie Burt: Robert Creeley, 21 February 2008

The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1945-75 
California, 681 pp., £12.55, October 2006, 0 520 24158 4Show More
The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1975-2005 
California, 662 pp., £29.95, October 2006, 0 520 24159 2Show More
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay 
by Robert Creeley.
California, 89 pp., £12.95, April 2006, 0 520 24791 4
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Selected Poems: 1945-2005 
by Robert Creeley, edited by Benjamin Friedlander.
California, 339 pp., $21.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25196 0
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... I did from any professor.’ The Creeley of those years modelled his verse on William Carlos Williams, his sensibility on recent jazz (he listened to Charlie Parker while composing) and his fiction on D.H. Lawrence, ‘my own mentor, finally the only one I can have’. Creeley later claimed that he picked up his sense of line from the mistaken assumption ...

His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... William Walton (1902) and Lennox Berkeley (1903), with the reassuring presence of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872) hovering over them all. Whether Tippett ever entered the pantheon, or even deserves to, remains an open question for some. His Concerto for Double String Orchestra (1939) might slot seamlessly into a concert programme of English string pieces like ...

Swift radiant morning

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1991

The Collected Letters of Charles Hamilton Sorley 
edited by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 310 pp., £25, November 1990, 9780900821547
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Ivor Gurney: Collected Letters 
edited by R.K.R Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 579 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 85635 941 6
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... of us, and make us so strong, so happy, so sure of ourselves, so crowded with fruitful memories of joy that we may be able to live in towns or earn our living at some drudgery and yet create whole and pure joy for others.’ He survived the war, living or partly living until the end of 1937, only to be cheated by ...

‘My dear, dear friend and Führer!’

Jeremy Adler: Winifred Wagner, 6 July 2006

Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler’s Bayreuth 
by Brigitte Hamann, translated by Alan Bance.
Granta, 582 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 1 86207 851 3
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... of her book and who played so prominent a role in Nazi Germany was English: Winifred Marjorie Williams, born in Hastings in 1897. Orphaned at an early age, she came to stay in Oranienburg, near Berlin, with distant relatives, the aged Wagnerians Henriette and Karl Klindworth, in 1907. Karl had studied with Liszt, founded a conservatoire and written piano ...

Door Closing!

Mark Ford: Randall Jarrell, 21 October 2010

Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy 
by Randall Jarrell.
Chicago, 277 pp., £10.50, April 2010, 978 0 226 39375 9
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... taking his first job at Amherst College in 1917. Pound, Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Hart Crane all lived by other means; though it’s worth pointing out that the poetry and criticism of Eliot in particular, and to a lesser extent of Pound, played a significant role in shaping the curriculum and methodologies these ...

Cantles

Frank Kermode, 17 June 1982

A Moving Target 
by William Golding.
Faber, 202 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 571 11822 4
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... In reviewing The Spire, I was trying to get at this quality when I compared the novel to Vaughan Williams, and especially to Job, and I still think the comparison useful: Blake’s rifacimento of the Bible itself transformed in an idiosyncratic modal music with saxophones thrown in. But the tone of these essays has less heroic antecedents. It brings to mind ...

Topping Entertainment

Frank Kermode: Britten, 28 January 2010

Journeying Boy: The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten 
edited by John Evans.
Faber, 576 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 571 23883 5
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... round keen on winning. His dismay at Bunny Austin’s defeat at Wimbledon is compensated by his joy at belatedly discovering squash. Nor did he scorn team games (cricket, football). It is barely possible not to wonder how he could combine these healthy interests with his pleasure in musical comedies, his exhausting schedule of rehearsal and practice ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban, 23 July 1987

Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... they mean Robert Lowell, or Allen Ginsberg, or the Black Mountain imitators of William Carlos Williams. ‘The Liverpool Poets’ are regarded with a mixture of fear and derision. ‘The ranks of the illiterate raise puerile and rhythmless voices,’ wrote Roy Fuller. ‘Infantile simplicity is all,’ wrote Julian Symons.What no one in the symposium ...

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