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Pretty Things

Peter Campbell, 21 February 1980

by Kit Williams.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01617 2
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Beauty and the Beast 
by Rosemary Harris and Errol Le Cain.
Faber, 32 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 571 11374 5
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Mazel and Shlimazel 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Margot Zemach.
Cape, 42 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 224 01758 6
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La Corona 
by Russell Hoban and Nicola Bayley.
Cape, 32 pp., £3.50, September 1980, 0 224 01397 1
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by Anthony Taber.
Gollancz, 80 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 575 02664 2
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Comic and Curious Cats 
by Angela Carter and Martin Leman.
Gollancz, 32 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 575 02592 1
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The Wild Washerwomen 
by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake.
Hamish Hamilton, 32 pp., £3.75, October 1980, 0 241 89928 1
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... because they are good to read, give reader and listener pleasure, irritate neither. The success of Kit Williams’s Masquerade certainly cannot be explained by its prose style. ‘The dewy vapours of her gown fell soft upon the land’ or ‘It was in thus doing that the unhappy Moon was the instrument of her own undoing’ are not the stuff of good story ...

An Actor’s War

Hugo Williams, 18 April 1985

... I just follow, if I can.                                  Hugh Williams March Well, here we are in our Tropical Kit – shirts and shorts and little black toques, looking like a lot of hikers or cyclists with dead bluebells on the handlebars. It seems we have at last discovered a place ...

Aspects of My Case

Hugo Williams, 21 April 1983

... stood in the corner near the insect case, remembering my bike. I had the John Bull Puncture Repair Kit in my pocket: glass paper, rubber solution, patches, chalk and grater, spare valves. I was ‘riding dead’ – freewheeling downhill with my arms folded and my eyes shut, looking Mr Ray in the eye. Every time I looked round he added a minute to my ...

Avoid the Orient

Colm Tóibín: The Ghastly Paul Bowles, 4 January 2007

Paul Bowles: A Life 
by Virginia Spencer Carr.
Peter Owen, 431 pp., £19.95, July 2005, 0 7206 1254 3
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... so they won’t tell about it.’ In publishing these stories Bowles joined Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams and James Baldwin as one of the pioneers of gay fiction in America. Williams read ‘The Delicate Prey’ while accompanying Bowles to Tangier on the SS Vulcania in December 1948. ‘It was a stormy crossing, and I ...

At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: ‘British Folk Art’, 3 July 2014

... inspiration.) ‘The Blue Ship’ by Alfred Wallis (1934). ‘The Four Alls’ pub sign by D.J. Williams (c.1850). Unicorn figurehead, date unknown. Calcutta figurehead, date unknown. ‘Goose Woman’ by George Smart (c.1830). ‘Sunbeam’ by Gunner Baldie (c.1830). ‘The Tailor’s Coverlet’ by James ...


Denis Donoghue, 2 February 1984

Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... Adrian Stokes, Tony Crosland – as he calls him – Richard Titmuss, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, John Berger, E.P. Thompson and Isaiah Berlin. If you need a stereotype of the English socialist, you may as well take this one as any other, though it’s hard to do any worthwhile thinking so long as you burden yourself with such a thing. I infer from ...

Song of Snogs

Colin Burrow: Catullus Bound, 2 December 2021

Catullus: Shibari Carmina 
by Isobel Williams.
Carcanet, 100 pp., £12.99, March, 978 1 80017 074 2
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... What​ an innocent I am. Until I read Isobel Williams’s reinventions of Catullus as Shibari Carmina I would have guessed that ‘shibari’ was an exotic seasoning, or perhaps a rare type of plant. Having now looked it up online and averted my gaze from the pictures (what ads will I get served in future? Will my IT department shop me?), I learn it’s a form of Japanese bondage, which involves consenting adults and carefully calibrated widths and strengths of jute rope ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen Walsh: Constant Lambert, 22 January 2015

Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... greatest symphonist since Beethoven, had no interest in folksong (though he studied with Vaughan Williams and liked and respected him), adored jazz for its virtuosity and instrumental sound but had little patience with most of the so-called symphonic jazz of the 1920s. The key to this apparent ragbag of a pantheon is that Lambert had come to music from ...

Art of Embarrassment

A.D. Nuttall, 18 August 1994

Essays, Mainly Shakespearean 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 386 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 40444 4
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English Comedy 
edited by Michael Cordner, Peter Holland and John Kerrigan.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 521 41917 4
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... King’s company – his cause being just and his quarrel honourable,’ says the disguised King; Williams answers, ‘That’s more than we know.’ We sense at once in Henry’s words the fatal element of rhetorical assumption; the King heartily assumes a willingness to die in (his own) company, after which the very modesty of ...

The Art of Self-Defeat

Noël Annan, 19 July 1984

Faces of Philip: A Memoir of Philip Toynbee 
by Jessica Mitford.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £9.95, July 1984, 0 434 46802 9
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... containing a thousand aspirins. All was now well. Inadvertently they had left their own euthanasia kit at home, but now they could kill themselves and their children if nuclear war began. Once he was with his friends the clown in him boxed the ears of the philosopher. A kind of honesty told him that movements and organisations always pervert the truth, and he ...

His v. Hers

Mark Ford, 9 March 1995

In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles 
edited by Jeffrey Miller.
HarperCollins, 604 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 00 255535 2
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... first novel, and set off for the Sahara. There he wrote The Sheltering Sky, in which the heroine Kit suffers a similar derangement of the senses; on the death of her husband Port from typhoid fever she joins a caravan of Arabs crossing the desert, is raped, imprisoned, brutalised, and ends up as crazy and alienated as the tongueless professor. Behind ...

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 ...

Is there another place from which the dickhead’s self can speak?

Marina Warner: The body and law, 1 October 1998

Bodies of Law 
by Alan Hyde.
Princeton, 290 pp., £39.50, July 1997, 0 691 01229 6
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... of the American cultural empyrean – Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Patricia J. Williams, Catherine MacKinnon. ‘Can we conceptualise people as people in relations?’ he asks. ‘Can we create a bodily discourse of pleasure, or sexuality? Can we develop a constitutional jurisprudence of how we want to live with each other, so that rights ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans, 3 June 2004

The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... or that this was a freshly ‘feudal’ society confronting ploughboys carrying superannuated kit. More to the point was the all-round professionalism and esprit honed by constant conflict all over 11th-century France. For more than a century this fighting style carried almost all before it, until in 1187, in Palestine, the opposition began to get its act ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary, 15 December 2016

The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... reliance on taste or memory’, as he would later explain to the poet Jackson Mac Low. His piece Williams Mix (1953), intricately spliced together from six hundred sections of pre-recorded electromagnetic tape, and his solo piano work, Music of Changes (1951), were assembled using instructions divined from the I Ching. But by the time an audience heard them ...

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