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Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan

Lawrence Norfolk: The Ways of the Boar, 6 January 2011

... To anyone attacked by a wild boar the advice from ancient and modern authorities is unanimous: do not run. Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, estimated that a horse and rider would need three-quarters of a mile to catch a boar with a 50-yard head start. In 1914, Malcolm Crawford, ‘the Bengal hog hunter’, remarked on the boar’s skill in ‘jinking’, or making sudden changes of direction, even ramming his snout into the ground at full speed and using it as a fulcrum on which to spin ...

Dreams of Avarice

Patrick Parrinder, 29 August 1991

A Closed Eye 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 255 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 224 03090 6
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Underwood and After 
by Ronald Frame.
Hodder, 246 pp., £14.99, August 1991, 0 340 55359 6
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Lemprière’s Dictionary 
by Lawrence Norfolk.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 530 pp., £14.95, August 1991, 1 85619 053 6
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... existence offers some insight into wealth and its corruptions. Lemprière’s Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk is an astonishingly assured first novel, stretching across two centuries and much of the known world, with a title reminiscent of Foucault’s Pendulum. Both books construct a web of skulduggery and institutional conspiracy, the one ...

Dark Sayings

Thomas Jones: Lawrence Norfolk, 2 November 2000

In the Shape of a Boar 
by Lawrence Norfolk.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 297 64618 4
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... real (within the context of the poem) situation to be considered as a mythic account at all. Lawrence Norfolk’s extraordinary new novel is, among many other things, concerned with the complicated relationship between history, myth and literature. It draws on the story of Meleager and the Kalydonian boar, a standard version of which, such as might ...


Lawrence Hogben: Sinking the ‘Bismarck’, 19 April 2001

... watch between the Faeroes and Iceland, and made sure that Admiral Wake-Walker, with the cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk, was guarding the Denmark Straits. Tovey himself left Scapa at eight o’clock on Friday evening in King George V, accompanied by Victorious. Force H – consisting of Admiral Somerville in Renown, the carrier Ark Royal and the cruiser ...

What did Cook want?

Jon Lawrence: Both ‘on message’ and off, 19 February 2004

The Point of Departure 
by Robin Cook.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 7432 5255 1
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... no need for the revitalising effects of his radicalism. A fortnight later, walking the midwinter Norfolk fens, Cook finally resolved that he must resign ‘if Tony embarks on a military conflict without a fresh UN resolution’. Cook would almost certainly have resigned whatever the fate of Lords reform, but Blair’s decisive rejection of an elected second ...


Ronald Blythe, 24 January 1980

A Writer’s Britain: Landscape in Literature 
by Margaret Drabble.
Thames and Hudson, 133 pp., £10.50, October 1980, 0 500 01219 9
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... view both of life and of art. Where is the actual eroticism in the work of Emily Brontë and D.H. Lawrence? Where is the heaven of Milton, Wordsworth and Blake? Where is Dickens’s hell? Where is the social realism in Crabbe’s ‘Tales’ or Mrs Gaskell’s or Arnold Bennett’s novels? In men and women and angels and demons? No, in places. We move about ...
Canteen Culture 
by Ike Eze-anyika.
Faber, 295 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 0 571 20079 6
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by Tony White.
Codex, 158 pp., £7.95, December 1999, 1 899598 13 8
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by Irvine Welsh.
Vintage, 392 pp., £5.99, August 1999, 0 09 959111 1
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... Fictional representations of real events from Hillsborough to the Stephen Lawrence case – mostly in the form of plays and television dramas – have played a surprisingly large part in shaping national debates about the police and police culture. Novels, however, tend either to use the figure of the detective to investigate larger questions than those of routine police work, or to fall back on the conventional oppositions (efficiency and incompetence, probity and graft) which tend to prop up the morphology of the fictional plod ...

Watching himself go by

John Lahr, 4 December 1980

by Noël Coward.
Eyre Methuen, 358 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 46050 9
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... making a proper spectacle of himself. His peers had difficulty in fathoming this phenomenon. T.E. Lawrence thought Coward had ‘a hasty kind of genius’. Sean O’Casey spat spiders at the mention of his name: ‘Coward hasn’t yet even shaken a baby-rattle of life in the face of one watching audience.’ J.B. Priestley, as late as 1964, taxed him ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... Tinniswood catches this kaleidoscopic world in snapshots: Nancy Astor jumping on the back of T.E. Lawrence’s motorbike and roaring down the drive at Cliveden, Stanley Baldwin sitting on a sofa at Fort Belvedere with Edward VIII, who had just decided to abdicate, both of them drinking whisky and crying. Indeed Lawrence and ...

Walking among ghosts

Paul Fussell, 18 September 1980

The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... death, in 1925. His view of the war is that of an elderly patriot and rentier, a church-goer and Norfolk JP whose main work seems to have been fining violators of the wartime blackout regulations. Long before the Derby Scheme, he was an enthusiast for conscription, outraged to behold able-bodied young men lounging about London. He found the savagery of the ...

Sir Jim

Reyner Banham, 22 May 1980

Memoirs of an Unjust Fella: An Autobiography 
by J.M. Richards.
Weidenfeld, 279 pp., £10, March 1980, 9780297777670
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... taking in Fidel Castro, Elizabeth David, Erskine Childers, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Robert Byron, Lawrence Durrell, Le Corbusier, Malcolm MacDonald, Tambimuttu ... and Donald Maclean. It is completely typical of the whole book that Maclean (whom he knew at school at Gresham’s) is characterised solely by the phrase: ‘created a sensation ... by defecting to ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... and a female chum welcoming ashore a boat-party of Ancient Egyptians at Sheringham in North Norfolk: the gods will be ‘happy in their swimming-trunks’ and the girls will lift up their skirts ‘and get drunk’. This sounds a bit like D.H. Lawrence proposing that life would be better if men went round wearing red ...


Susannah Clapp, 23 July 1987

A Life with Alan: The Diary of A.J.P. Taylor’s Wife, Eva, from 1978 to 1985 
by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 241 12118 3
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The Painted Banquet: My Life and Loves 
by Jocelyn Rickards.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 297 79119 2
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The Beaverbrook Girl 
by Janet Aitken Kidd.
Collins, 240 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 00 217602 5
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... she’d retrieved a full boxful of balls. The collector of women – Tallulah Bankhead, Gertrude Lawrence and Bea Lillie all draped themselves round his drawing-room – was a prudish parent, who sent his children scuttling out of his film shows as soon as a kissing scene’ threatened. Mrs Aitken Kidd has a killing line – of the ‘very flat, ...


A. Craig Copetas: Yaaaggghhhh, 25 June 1992

... drive home a point. There was Gordon Wasson on mushrooms, William Emboden on narcotic plants, D.H. Lawrence on meeting interesting women, and Marcel Proust babbling about French society in a most peculiar syntax. I’d never heard of any of these writers; the slow-rising central horror of education in Middle America is that Great Expectations and that hollow ...

Identity Parade

Linda Colley, 25 February 1993

People and Places: Country House Donors and the National Trust 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 232 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 7195 5145 5
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The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 
by Michael Dobson.
Oxford, 266 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 19 811233 5
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Myths of the English 
edited by Roy Porter.
Polity, 280 pp., £39.50, October 1992, 0 7456 0844 2
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Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States 
by Stephen Daniels.
Polity, 257 pp., £39.50, November 1992, 0 7456 0450 1
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... the gardens of Wallington in far Northumberland are Scottish in style. And Blickling in Norfolk is as culturally and visually distinct as if it were ‘the furthest extremity ... of the United Kingdom’. Moreover, Lees-Milne is well aware that the Trust’s activities have served to invent a national past, not just conserve it. Little Moreton Hall ...

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