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Young Wystan

Ian Hamilton, 8 September 1994

Juvenilia: Poems 1922-28 
by W.H. Auden, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Faber, 263 pp., £25, July 1994, 0 571 17140 0
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... about Mother: these subjects are all touched on, or are present, in his early work but without Katherine Bucknell to assist us, we would be hard pressed to locate them, let alone make out a case for their huge personal significance. Auden trained himself as a poet as he might have trained himself to be an engineer. Now and then he worried that he was ...

A Little Bit of Showing Off

Adam Phillips: Isherwood’s 1960s, 6 January 2011

The Sixties: Diaries 1960-69 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 756 pp., £30, November 2010, 978 0 7011 6940 4
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... as of a theatrical performance, that works for him, and always the larger range he aspires to. As Katherine Bucknell suggests in her excellent introduction to the diaries, A Single Man, which Isherwood began writing in 1962, was ‘modelled on Mrs Dalloway, which Isherwood unreservedly praised that summer’. Woolf, he may have thought, was within his ...


Adam Phillips: Charm, 16 November 2000

Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-51 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 388 pp., £25, July 2000, 0 7011 6931 1
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... a memoir that is neither a diary nor a deliberately fictionalised autobiography. Lost Years, Katherine Bucknell tells us in her useful introduction, is part of ‘a major new phase – roughly the final third of his career – in which Isherwood moved away from semi-fictionalised writing towards pure autobiography’. ‘Pure autobiography’ is ...

Tiff and Dither

Michael Wood, 2 January 1997

Diaries. Vol. I: 1939-60 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Methuen, 1048 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 413 69680 4
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... sketches rather than explanations of words. There are moments in the Introduction when Katherine Bucknall’s immersion in her subject combines with her eagerness to inform us to produce little flickers of unintentional comedy. ‘Hitler killed himself in April; Germany surrendered in May. Japan surrendered on 14 August, and nine days later, on 23 ...

In the Company of Confreres

Terry Eagleton: ‘Modern British Fiction’, 12 December 2002

On Modern British Fiction 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 328 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 0 19 924932 6
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... becoming Nigerian. So did Christopher Isherwood, on whom there is an uninspired contribution from Katherine Bucknell. Wendy Lesser remarks on what she sees as Penelope Fitzgerald’s uncanny ability to re-create alien cultures. In his deceptively off-the-cuff critical style, Michael Wood writes sensitively of Naipaul and Salman Rushdie, pointing out that ...

Kitty still pines for his dearest Dub

Andrew O’Hagan: Gossip, 6 February 2014

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... The much gossiped about George Eliot absolutely hated the idea of people talking behind their hands. The year she took up with a married man was also the year Ruskin’s wife revealed her husband’s impotence during court proceedings. ‘Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it,’ Eliot wrote ironically in Daniel Deronda ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... Pound died in 1972; Auden, who was 22 years younger, in 1973. Both writers underwent the usual posthumous dip in attention and reputation. This familar dégringolade is a mysterious process, and one which seems much more arbitrary than the longer critical haul of a century or two. For instance, shares in Elizabeth Bishop (d. 1979) are at an all-time high, helped by the timely publication of her letters; while shares in Philip Larkin (d ...

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