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Olly and Tim

Laurence Lerner

8 November 1990
... Olly has a new guest. Uninvited Tim entered his head, pushing his way, Intending to stay. Forty years I’ve known Olly. Who’s Tim? Tokyo spilt over the plains of China. As the sun set a million million midges Stippled the sky. Leaf reached at leaf, Overcrowding the elms, the beeches. Flabby Olly, smoking, laughing, leching, Won’t last till Christmas, the doctors said. Pushy Tim, tumbling among ...

Kaspar Hauser

Laurence Lerner

15 May 1980
... All that long time there was the place I was, All that long same, the dark and constant same. I came to being and it bit my eyes. I want to be a rider like my father. A soldier was my father was a horseman. I want to be a rider and I want Out of that same he carried me up stairs, Out of that dark and then I stood to lean; The soft ground stood and hit me till I fell. When it was hunger time they put ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue

19 July 1984
Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... Reconstructing Literature consists of nine essays by eight writers – one of them takes two shots – in more or less dismayed relation to Structuralism and Deconstruction. The writers are LaurenceLerner, Cedric Watts, Roger Scruton, John Holloway, Gabriel Josipovici, Wayne Booth, Robert Pattison and Anthony Thorlby. Four of them teach at Sussex, so I suppose the book started as a bright idea ...
15 May 1980
Love and Marriage 
by Laurence Lerner.
Edward Arnold, 264 pp., £12, August 1979, 0 7131 6227 9
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Adultery in the Novel: Contract and Transgression 
by Tony Tanner.
Johns Hopkins, 383 pp., £9.75, April 1980, 0 8018 2178 9
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... the novel to the treatment of the pathology of jealousy, perhaps because it has a primitive association with pollution; after Shakespeare, it’s hard to know what more could be said on this subject. LaurenceLerner, in his book Love and Marriage, develops Weber’s point that marriage is threatened by too high claims for sexuality, finding in the literary tradition an inarticulate wisdom, an awareness ...
19 February 1981
The Star-Apple Kingdom 
by Derek Walcott.
Cape, 58 pp., £2.50, March 1980, 0 224 01780 2
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Selected Poems 1961-1978 
by David Holbrook.
Anvil, 143 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 85646 066 4
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Death Valley and Other Poems in America 
by Alan Ross.
London Magazine Editions, 92 pp., £3, June 1980, 0 904388 32 8
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Poems 1955-1980 
by Roy Fisher.
Oxford, 193 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 211935 4
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A.R.T.H.U.R. & M.A.R.T.H.A. 
by Laurence Lerner.
Secker, 69 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 436 24440 3
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... Matrix’ and ‘Wonders of Obligation’. For all his shyness about style, Fisher’s writing is poised and beautifully controlled. He is often difficult but mostly rewarding and always distinctive. LaurenceLerner’s second poetic study of the life of computers is a disappointment. What could be a springboard to all manner of invention turns out to be a series of predictable gags. A.R.T.H.U.R. – M.A ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst

20 August 1981
Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... book, the form throughout is a costive triplet of very short lines. On the back, John Carey says he ‘cannot think of anyone else writing today whose every line is so unfailingly exciting’; and LaurenceLerner opines that ‘almost every line he writes crackles with invention.’ It is not merely pedantic to object that there is not a single inventive or exciting line in the whole of the new book ...
19 August 1993
Shakespeare and Ovid 
by Jonathan Bate.
Oxford, 292 pp., £35, May 1993, 0 19 812954 8
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... so to do something much more difficult, much more interesting: in effect, he shows us that, while Ovid may delight the timeless theorist, he constitutes a kind of scandal for the New Historicist. As LaurenceLerner recently remarked, New Historicism can be summed up, not unfairly, as the doctrine that a poem is not for all time. All literary works, including the greatest, are embedded in history, their ...
10 May 2018
Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography 
by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 912 pp., £27.95, May 2017, 978 0 691 17249 1
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... hardly worth saying; then he decided to cut the stanza; and then he scrapped the whole poem, judging it ‘infected with an incurable dishonesty’. ‘I loathe that poem,’ he once told the critic LaurenceLerner. What he found especially ‘nasty’ about such moments was that he had been led to a ‘lie’ not by self-interest or a desire to deceive but by the capacity of his voice to charm: ‘That ...

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