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Bad Nights at ‘The Libertine’

Keith Walker, 8 October 1992

Handel’s ‘Messiah’: A Celebration 
by Richard Luckett.
Gollancz, 258 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 575 05286 4
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The Rise of Musical Classics in 18th-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology 
by William Weber.
Oxford, 274 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 816287 1
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... feel an admiration for the undoubted operatic qualities of the work, while agreeing with Ernest Walker that Handel ‘took originally to oratorio-writing simply as an experiment toward recapturing the favour of his patrons ... who had grown tired of Italian opera’ – which was regarded as the apotheosis of everything effeminate and un-English. The ...

Settling accounts

Keith Walker, 15 May 1980

‘A heart for every fate’: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. 10, 1822-1823 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 239 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7195 3670 7
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... ‘A heart for every fate’: the title Marchand has chosen, from the enchanting lyric Byron wrote to Thomas Moore in 1817, doesn’t seem quite appropriate. It would have been better to borrow Doris Langley Moore’s Lord Byron: Accounts Rendered, for in these months in Genoa (October 1822 – June 1823) Byron was settling his accounts with his creditors, with his public, with his publisher John Murray, with his mistress, and making arrangements to settle his accounts with life and fame ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... DULL. adj. 8. Not exhilaterating; not delightful; as, to make dictionaries is dull work.’ But they are fun to read, and it’s good to welcome this reprint of Johnson’s first edition (1755). No dictionary before Webster’s Third International has caused so much comment and controversy, none has been the cause of so many anecdotes and myths, as Johnson’s ...

Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell, 6 December 1984

The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... sons of Wadham’, perhaps took part in writing an obscene farce called Sodom. Dr Walker drily observes that ‘to assert this twenty years ago would have damaged Rochester’s reputation as much as to deny it today.’ We are certainly more able than many of our predecessors to accept that this poetry was of some importance for its age. If we ...

Poet Squab

Claude Rawson, 3 March 1988

John Dryden and His World 
by James Anderson Winn..
Yale, 651 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 300 02994 2
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John Dryden 
edited by Keith Walker.
Oxford, 967 pp., £22.50, January 1987, 0 19 254192 7
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... is in general very competent, and the account of his personality sympathetic and unsentimental. Keith Walker’s edition of Dryden in the Oxford Authors is a useful selection. All the major poems are included in full, with prefatory material where appropriate. No plays are included, and the critical works do not include the ‘Discourse Concerning ...

Doomed to Sincerity

Germaine Greer: Rochester as New Man, 16 September 1999

The Works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Harold Love.
Oxford, 712 pp., £95, April 1999, 0 19 818367 4
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... by Rochester’; 75 of his attributions and usually his choices of copy-text were accepted by Keith Walker for his edition for Blackwell’s in 1984; to the 75 Walker added six new attributions. Frank Ellis rejects one poem accepted by both Vieth and Walker as by ...

Unwritten Masterpiece

Barbara Everett: Dryden’s ‘Hamlet’, 4 January 2001

... that left to himself he would have filled his whole book with Prologues and Epilogues. Or again, Keith Walker, in his Oxford Poetry Library selection, confines himself almost entirely (after Mac Flecknoe, parts of Absalom and Achitophel, ‘To the Memory of Mr Oldham’, ‘St Cecilia’s Day’, and the ‘Lady’s Song’) to translations and ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... Heath years were a disaster. This is what first bound together Ranelagh’s galère, ranging from Keith Joseph to Alan Walters, from Alfred Sherman to Denis Thatcher: the Institute of Economic Affairs competing the while with Enoch Powell for the role of the enduring spiritual godfather whose time had come. Ranelagh’s book is badly organised. Having begun ...

Hugh Dalton to the rescue

Keith Thomas, 13 November 1997

The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 523 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 06703 8
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Ancient as the Hills 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7195 5596 5
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The Fate of the English Country House 
by David Littlejohn.
Oxford, 344 pp., £20, May 1997, 9780195088762
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... to demolition. Salvation came from the Labour Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, in 1946. A great walker, Dalton was more interested in open spaces than country houses. But by creating the National Land Fund for the acquisition of houses in lieu of death duties, he set in motion the transfer of many stately homes to public ownership or to the National ...

His Generation

Keith Gessen: A Sad Old Literary Man, 19 June 2008

Alfred Kazin: A Biography 
by Richard Cook.
Yale, 452 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 0 300 11505 5
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... to the George Washington Bridge, which is in fact at 186th Street and nearby only to a fanatical walker like Kazin. These are extremely minor things but they lead you to wonder whether Cook has ever been to New York. Similarly, he doesn’t seem that curious about anything that isn’t in Kazin’s journals. He makes very little use of Ann Birstein’s odd ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... and a ‘List of Major Works’. Frederick Karl offers up columns of elaborate notes. Marshall Walker supplies a ‘chronological table’ that correlates authors and titles with events (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone the same year that Henry James published Roderick Hudson; Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems coincided with Coca-Cola’s ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Thatcher in Gravesend, 9 May 2013

... of their upstream neighbour, Dartford. Dartford is where Margaret Thatcher, like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, launched her career as a big-stage, big-dollar performer. With age, Thatcher and Keith Richards relocated their original identities, with fat biographies boosted as pure legend, bad behaviour sanctified by ...

North Sea Fortune

Chris Patten, 5 November 1981

British Industry and the North Sea: State Intervention in a Developing Industrial Sector 
by Michael Jenkin.
Macmillan, 251 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 333 25606 9
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... has, in fact, spent more taxpayers’ money on supporting British industry – Tony Benn or Peter Walker, Eric Varley or Sir Keith Joseph? If only a lot more energy had gone into establishing a workable and lasting framework for the relationship between government and industry, and a lot less into the foredoomed attempt to ...

From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... policies of Pym and Gilmour were to return to favour, they are more likely to be implemented by a Walker or a Heseltine. In style, the change is equally noticeable. For almost the first time in its history the Tory Party has taken a section of the intelligentsia seriously. Mrs Thatcher may not be a conceptual innovator or at home with abstractions, and she ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... in a hotel, to the great annoyance of the management.’ They travel to Normandy to see where Keith Douglas was shelled as he stood beside his tank. They prowl around Roundhay Park in Leeds, where John Riley was mugged and beaten to death in the wee hours after drinking at a pub. They also go to predictable and even boring places: Wallace Stevens’s ...

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