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Gary Indiana: Nymphomania, antic incest and metaphysical torment, 14 December 2006

Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker 
edited by Amy Scholder, Carla Harryman and Avital Ronell.
Verso, 120 pp., £10.99, May 2006, 9781844670666
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... reader back to her body in a way no other literary strategy quite does. The voices of Ronell and Lawrence Rickels are the driest in Lust for Life: Ronell’s because she articulates her grief over a friend’s loss in etiolated academic language interspersed with lachrymose, though sincere, intertitles; Rickels’s because, as a psychoanalyst, he is ...

At Tate Britain

John Barrell: Late Turner, 18 December 2014

... lesser artists submit.’ Painting set free. That phrase, the subtitle of this exhibition, was Lawrence Gowing’s, who about fifty years ago came up with the claim that Turner was the first modern artist, perhaps the first abstract expressionist. His view of Turner was based on the recovery of works left rolled up in his studio when he died, kept in ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann, 26 January 2012

Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... the hope that Saddam would retaliate, which Mann thought would trigger UN action; the other was to sail a cargo ship carrying nuclear weapons-grade fuel or bomb parts into Basra, thus appearing to confirm US suspicions that Iraq had WMDs. Apparently, Blair liked parts of the scheme, but Mossad was dismissive. Later, questioned about the problems the Iraq ...

Goodbye to Some of That

Basil Davidson, 22 August 1996

... come about: the wonder is that it has come about at all. Fifty-eight years have passed since Major Lawrence Grand launched his ‘Section D’ in a niche of the old War Office, which had concluded, quite privately in the wake of the Munich sell-out of the Czechs, that a war with Hitler’s Germany would be unavoidable, in which case several European countries ...

Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... equipped with modem-ports and work stations, which would enable the nation’s champions to sail back and forth without being fouled by the lesser movements of their fellow citizens. Though it sounded implausible at the time, Archer’s proposal was in line with the more baroque – perhaps pre-Cameronian – tradition of Tory thinking about public ...

With the wind in our shrouds

Mary Beard, 26 July 1990

The Making of ‘The Golden Bough’: The Origin and Growth of an Argument 
by Robert Fraser.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £35, July 1990, 0 333 49631 0
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... his introduction wrote of The Golden Bough as a ‘voyage’ – the author as helmsman, setting sail with ‘the wind in our shrouds’. What kind of travel was Frazer suggesting? Not certainly the once daring, now commonplace travel around the Mediterranean. After all, in the first chapter of the book, it was the coast of Italy that was conjured up as the ...

Had we lived …

Jenny Diski: The Afterlife of Captain Scott, 9 February 2006

Scott of the Antarctic: A Life of Courage and Tragedy in the Extreme South 
by David Crane.
HarperCollins, 637 pp., £25, November 2005, 0 00 715068 7
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... Royds noted that his captain on the Discovery voyage was ‘continually on the panic’. Captain Lawrence Oates wrote to his mother from the Terra Nova journey that he disliked Scott intensely and that ‘the fact of the matter is he is not straight, it is himself first and when he has got all he can out of you it is shift for yourself.’ Apsley ...

Some Sort of a Solution

Charles Simic: Cavafy, 20 March 2008

The Collected Poems 
by C.P. Cavafy, translated by Evangelos Sachperoglou.
Oxford, 238 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 19 921292 7
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The Canon 
by C.P. Cavafy, translated by Stratis Haviaras.
Harvard, 465 pp., £16.95, January 2008, 978 0 674 02586 8
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... of Cavafy’s work into English and made it known to such figures as T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence. Here is Forster’s description of Cavafy: a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe. His arms are extended, possibly . . . Yes, it is Mr Cavafy, and he is going either from his flat to the ...


Blake Morrison, 30 June 2011

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp 
by W.H. Davies.
Amberley, 192 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84868 980 0
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... curiosity whose work has not worn well. ‘I think one ought to be downright cruel to him,’ D.H. Lawrence said, and many have been. Max Beerbohm was, when at a dinner party he asked Davies, ‘How long is it since Shaw discovered you?’; on being told it was 13 or 14 years, he replied, ‘Oh dear dear – and has it been going on all this time?’ and added ...


Colin Burrow: Walter Ralegh, 8 March 2012

Sir Walter Ralegh in Life and Legend 
by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams.
Continuum, 378 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 1 4411 1209 5
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The Favourite: Sir Walter Ralegh in Elizabeth I’s Court 
by Mathew Lyons.
Constable, 354 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84529 679 7
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... ymployment of numbers of idle men’. Money was raised for a fleet of seven ships, which set sail from Plymouth in April 1585 under Richard Grenville. Ralegh himself was forbidden to leave the queen’s side. This colonial adventure turned out to be a fairly typical Elizabethan mess, in which unrealistic hopes met bad weather, piracy, practical failure ...

Summer with Empson

Jonathan Raban: Learning to Read, 5 November 2009

... but it hardly deepened. Joyce, Hardy, Dickens, Camus, George Eliot, Hemingway, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, D.H. Lawrence, Scott Fitzgerald, Keats, Byron, Auden, Pound, T.S. Eliot … At 16 I was a chain-reader, on a steady three library books a day when not in school, but my style of reading remained much as it was ...

Balloons and Counter-Balloons

Susan Eilenberg: ‘The Age of Wonder’, 7 January 2010

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science 
by Richard Holmes.
HarperPress, 380 pp., £9.99, September 2009, 978 0 00 714953 7
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... in Mungo Park, the African explorer and the first European to reach the Niger; in William Lawrence, the surgeon who took on the Vitalists; in Vincent Lunardi, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, John Jeffries, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and James Sadler, the balloonists; in King George III, who loved telescopes and music and balloons; in Thomas Beddoes, the ...

Osip and Nadezhda Mandelstam

Seamus Heaney, 20 August 1981

... cranes into an alien place – The god’s spume foaming in the prince’s hair – Where do you sail? If Helen were not there What would Troy matter, men of Achaean race? The sea, and Homer – it’s love that moves all things. To whom should I listen? Homer falls silent now And the black sea surges toward my pillow Like a loud declaimer, heavily ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick, 31 October 2002

Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... with the rest. Several, towing their druggs, will make easy pickings for other whaling ships. D.H. Lawrence thought this ‘the most stupendous chapter’ in the book, and quoted at length from the aquarium scenes, stressing the ‘submarine bridal chambers’ within the nursery. Always eager to spell things out (‘amazing monsters . . . in rut’), ...

What We’re about to Receive

Jeremy Harding: Food Insecurity, 13 May 2010

... because they simply cannot go on. We are now entering a period of rapid transition’ (Felicity Lawrence, Eat Your Heart Out, 2008). ‘We depend just as much on our gas-guzzling, chilled plug-in, “just-in-time” food deliveries as ancient Romans did on foreign conquests, shipping and slaves – and our food system is no more secure, ethical or ...

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