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Two Poems

Donald Hall

19 August 1993
... night about whether a poem was good enough for us. John         Ashbery sat in a corner shelling pistachio nuts;         Robert E. Bly wore a three- piece suit and a striped tie; Kenneth         Koch was always sarcastic. Once as we pasted an issue         together we discovered a blank page and teased Ashbery         to give us a poem. John disappeared to ...

Castration

Lorna Scott Fox

24 November 1994
Mea Cuba 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Kenneth Hall.
Faber, 497 pp., £17.50, October 1994, 0 571 17255 5
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Before Night Falls 
by Reinaldo Arenas, translated by Dolores Koch.
Viking, 317 pp., £16, July 1994, 0 670 84078 5
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... Ever since 1956, when Fidel Castro left Veracruz for Santiago de Cuba like a conquistador in reverse, Mexican-Cuban relations have been a sensitive area. Cynical Mexicans might take the view that their government’s attitude is, or rather was, a matter of ‘I’ll support your revolution – and appear to take a stand against the US – if you don’t export it over here.’ At one stage in the early ...

Lola did the driving

Inigo Thomas: Pevsner’s Suffolk

4 May 2016
Suffolk: East, The Buildings of England 
by James Bettley and Nikolaus Pevsner.
Yale, 677 pp., £35, April 2015, 978 0 300 19654 2
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... he bicycled close to the east coast. ‘Part of the charm of one’s exposure to them is that they ask one to rise to no heroics. What is the charm, after all, but just the abyss of the familiar.’ Kenneth Clark, who grew up at Sudbourne Hall, a now demolished Wyatt house near Orford, said that what made the Dark Ages so dark was ‘the isolation, the lack of mobility, the lack of curiosity, the ...

Diary

Michael Dobson: The Russell-Cotes

23 February 2012
... pictures, and the latter were to be preferred. Art turned up in Look and Learn, World of Wonder and a board game called Masterpiece, and it was small, blurred and usually incomprehensible, even when Kenneth Clark was standing in front of it sounding enthusiastic on television. Why was a naked man wrapped in a curtain jumping over a wagon from behind a tree, twisting his head oddly as he did so to look ...

Blame it on his social life

Nicholas Penny: Kenneth​ Clark

5 January 2017
Kenneth​ Clark: Life, Art and ‘Civilisation’ 
by James Stourton.
William Collins, 478 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 00 749341 8
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... Each and every​ place in the life of Kenneth Clark has been investigated by James Stourton, from the country house in Suffolk where, as a boy, Clark judged the dresses of female dinner guests, to the château in Normandy belonging to his second ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode

11 January 1990
In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth​ Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... To live in the Nineties is to have first-hand experience of l’entre-siècle, a useful word I picked up from Kenneth Silver. Expect to see signs of what Henri Focillon in his book on the year 1000 identified as ‘centurial mysticism’, an affliction even more likely to be endemic when the century that is ending ...
31 May 2017
... Acting as ‘a space for extended debate and discussion’ from 10.30 in the morning until midnight, it hosted meetings addressed not just by usual suspects such as Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Kenneth Tynan, the publisher John Calder, Doris Lessing, Michael Redgrave and Wolf Mankowitz, but also such distinguished figures as William Empson. ‘Events’ were held in the basement where various ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art

6 September 2017
... pair left and approached their carriage, a plain-clothes detective stopped them: ‘I have every reason to believe that you are men in female attire.’ Stella was indeed one Ernest Boulton, music hall artiste and rent boy, and Fanny was Frederick Park, a trainee solicitor. At Bow Street police station they were arrested and charged with sodomy. Stella, it transpired, had been living as the wife of ...

Soul Bellow

Craig Raine

12 November 1987
More die of heartbreak 
by Saul Bellow.
Alison Press/Secker, 335 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 436 03962 1
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... laughable and garnished with reading which, in other Bellow novels, might generate strenuous discussion, but here amounts to little more than perfunctory citations from a Russian literature binge. Kenneth Trachtenberg, the narrator, teaches Russian literature – hence the garland of dusty immortelles he hangs on his cousin, Fishl: ‘he was flavoured with essences belonging to that period of Rosanov ...

Thatcherism

Gordon Brown

2 February 1989
Thatcherism 
edited by Robert Skidelsky.
Chatto, 214 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 7011 3342 2
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The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left 
by Stuart Hall.
Verso, 283 pp., £24.95, December 1988, 0 86091 199 3
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... than by legislation on the unions. Personal rates of taxation have been reduced, at a price more obvious now than in the glad springtime of Mr Lawson but the overall tax burden has increased. Stuart Hall diagnoses a kind of authoritarian populism that will allow or encourage the dismantling of the welfare state, and, following upon further assaults on the unions, a British Thatcherite way forward for ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998

21 January 1999
... nicer than I’d been led to expect. 14 April. Watch Grammar School Days (BBC2), a documentary about the eleven-plus and after, with reminiscences by various advertisements for the system, including Kenneth Clarke, David Puttnam and Barry Hines. Listening to their recollections of taking and passing the eleven-plus makes me wonder whether I ever took it at all. I had jumped one or two classes at my ...

Greatness

Arthur Marwick

21 October 1982
Attlee 
by Kenneth​ Harris.
Weidenfeld, 630 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 297 77993 1
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... he led a massively active life in local politics, earning great admiration and respect for his willingness to turn his hand to any job that needed doing, however humble. He worked briefly at Toynbee Hall, which he disliked as too ‘bourgeois’, then was appointed to a lectureship at LSE. While brother Tom became a conscientious objector when war broke out, Attlee volunteered for active service ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: Reasons for Loathing Michael Howard

31 October 1996
... Sixty years ago this month, the then Tory Home Secretary, Sir John Simon, chose to announce a new Public Order Bill in the course of an offensive and thoroughly partisan speech at Cleckheaton Town Hall which just happened to be delivered in the same week in which Labour’s annual conference was taking place. The effect of this was neatly to embarrass Labour by exposing divisions in its leadership ...

The Road to 1989

Paul Addison

21 February 1991
The People’s Peace: British History 1945-1989 
by Kenneth​ O. Morgan.
Oxford, 558 pp., £17.95, October 1990, 0 19 822764 7
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... Kenneth Morgan’s history of our times is both rewarding and frustrating. It is rewarding on government and politics since 1945, and frustrating on social and economic structure. Between the two, at the ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks

22 November 1990
Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth​ Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... the figure whom it is de rigueur to invoke at any intellectual or cultural occasion in present-day Britain duly puts in a guest-appearance: Mrs Thatcher. The Ironised Maiden is in evidence, too, in Kenneth Baker’s anthology of verse parodies, Unauthorised Versions. But then Mr Baker is a Conservative politician, mainstream, main chance. Politically these are authorised versions. One of the entries ...

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