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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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... never for him a vehicle for personal emotion – not even at the start. Boys, God, his confused feelings about Mother: these subjects are all touched on, or are present, in his early work but without KatherineBucknell 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 ...

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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... are being made, whether or not they are explicit. It is the ‘convincing’ and the ‘moving’, as of a theatrical performance, that works for him, and always the larger range he aspires to. As KatherineBucknell 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 ...

Knitting

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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... aspiring writer. And so he is remembering the old labels in the light of the new ones. And he is writing a memoir that is neither a diary nor a deliberately fictionalised autobiography. Lost Years, KatherineBucknell 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 ...

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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... helpful notes, a chronology and a slightly oddly named glossary, which consists mainly of brief biographical 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 ...

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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... Singapore. Even Wodehouse became an American citizen, almost as bizarre a transition as Noël Coward becoming Nigerian. So did Christopher Isherwood, on whom there is an uninspired contribution from KatherineBucknell. 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 ...

Concierge

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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Auden 
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 ...
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. But she also meant it. ‘It ...

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