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Dry Lands

Rebecca Solnit: The Water Problem

3 December 2009
Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming and the Future of Water in the West 
by James Lawrence Powell.
California, 283 pp., £19.95, January 2010, 978 0 520 25477 0
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... in the South-West wouldn’t exist. But the supply was always precarious and overcommitted, and it is already running out. Water limitations were noticed from the beginning, when Major John Wesley Powell and his crew became the first white men to float down the Colorado. Powell’s 1875 Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, an expansion of his magazine reports, is still in print. It is a ...

Mud, Mud, Mud

Nathaniel Rich: New Orleans

22 November 2012
The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans 
by Lawrence Powell.
Harvard, 422 pp., £22.95, March 2012, 978 0 674 05987 0
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... Disaster is part of the character of the city: not just the trauma of past cataclysms, but the fear of what will come next, and how soon. In New Orleans’s first hundred years, the period covered by LawrencePowell’s The Accidental City, its existence was imperilled more than a dozen times. The first catastrophic flood occurred in 1719, less than a year after the site was claimed by French settlers. It ...
25 March 1993
Philip Larkin: Writer 
by James Booth.
Harvester, 192 pp., £9.95, March 1992, 0 7450 0769 4
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... least with quite a number. Although the obvious danger would then be including almost every artistic effect under the heading of the pornographic (‘everything he does is so artistic,’ as Anthony Powell remarked of Lawrence’s gamekeeper, quoting a song of Marie Lloyd’s), it might be tempting to construct a General Theory of Pornography in Art along these lines. Lawrence himself, oddly enough ...
19 May 1983
The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 284 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 503102 4
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... Fussell’s cover is a picture of a keen-eyed lad with ‘Boy Scouts of America’ stitched on his khaki shirt: he is wearing the B.P. hat – to which American boys are fully entitled. Robert Baden-Powell, a skilled dress-designer, ordered those cowboy hats from the States in 1900 when he was kitting out his nurses and constables in Africa. B.P. has recorded: ‘They were known in the trade as “Boss ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: A journey to citizenship

16 November 2006
... to integrate’, and it might seem churlish of me to have requested from the Home Office a second book, one that might detail the history of ‘celebratory’ integration in the homeland of Enoch Powell and Stephen Lawrence. The problem – or the hilarity – begins when one begins to read the code of honour that seems to be inscribed between the plain-speaking lines of the manual. One need hardly ...
14 June 1990
Poems 
by Gay Clifford.
188 pp., £14.99, May 1990, 0 241 12976 1
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Selected Poems 1940 – 1989 
by Allen Curnow.
Viking, 209 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 670 83007 0
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Collected Poems and Selected Translations 
by Norman Cameron, edited by Warren Hope and Jonathan Barker.
Anvil, 160 pp., £14.95, May 1990, 0 85646 202 0
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Collected Poems 
by Enoch Powell.
Bellew, 198 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 947792 36 8
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... There is the poem on the skeleton of the Great Moa – an avian prodigy, long extinct – in the Canterbury Museum at Christchurch; a marvellous one on a 90-year-old mountaineer who had known D. H. Lawrence? Terrible young man. Ran away with my friend Weekley’s wife. An elegy on the poet’s father keeps company with a long story poem, ‘An Abominable Temper’, about a 19th-century judge in the ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s

18 July 2013
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... into such sources and digests them into a readable totality. If this is, in part, a scissors-and-paste project, it’s also one that stands on its own feet. An affinity with the fiction of Anthony Powell has been caught, but this is not a novel. It is not a memoir, though it eats the memoirs of others, plankton-fashion. It is a species of history – annals, perhaps. Kynaston’s far from copious ...

Diary

Melanie McFadyean: In the Wrong Crowd

24 September 2014
... to happen.’ As well as small fry like Conteh, the law catches big fish like Gary Dobson and David Norris. Although neither of them was found guilty of carrying out the stabbing that killed Stephen Lawrence when they were finally tried in 2011, new scientific evidence demonstrated they had been very close to Lawrence when he was attacked – ‘proximity’, as the judgment allowing Dobson’s retrial ...

Female Heads

John Bayley

27 October 1988
Woman to Woman: Female Friendship in Victorian Fiction 
by Tess Cosslett.
Harvester, 211 pp., £29.95, July 1988, 0 7108 1015 6
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Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century 
by John Mullan.
Oxford, 261 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 19 812865 7
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The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. Vol. I: 1768-1773 
edited by Lars Troide.
Oxford, 353 pp., £45, June 1988, 9780198125815
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... to a world in which he has no being. Yet all the time he knows she is ‘hurrying to join him’. Creating an imaginary fresco of King Candaules awaiting his wife on the nuptial couch, Anthony Powell observes that the expectant monarch has in him ‘something of all men’, his spouse absorbed in her own rituals ‘something of all women’. In the legend, Candaules dies for thinking his wife’s ...

Flower Power

P.N. Furbank: Jocelyn Brooke

8 May 2003
'The Military Orchid’ and Other Novels 
by Jocelyn Brooke.
Penguin, 437 pp., £10.99, August 2002, 0 14 118713 1
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... An unjustly neglected author’? This was at least how Anthony Powell wrote of Jocelyn Brooke, none of whose books remained in print at the time of his death in 1966. But the neglect was to some degree remedied when, in 1981, Secker and Warburg reissued his Orchid ...
2 March 1989
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... The war is a long way back and young people take little interest in it, or in the feel of what was being said and written at the time. Lawrence, Yeats and Eliot go marching on, attracting obedient attention from each new generation of students, but this form of academic perpetuity does not extend to the writers who give each literary age its ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton

22 October 1992
The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... salutations will be discovered by the likes of Donald Davie (‘droning out his tosh’), Ted Hughes (‘boring old monolith, no good at all – not a single solitary bit of good’) and Anthony Powell, aka ‘the horse-face dwarf’. There is even a ‘Hi, Ian’: he calls me ‘the Kerensky of poetry’. Not too bad, I thought at first. Alas, though, the book’s editor advises me that Larkin ...

Brooke’s Benefit

Anthony Powell

16 April 1981
... he stayed in the house of a (female) friend, whose library was stocked with English books published between 1905 and 1925. As the weather was wet and cold, Brooke embarked on a reread of D.H. Lawrence: Aaron’s Rod (much praised in its time) struck me, quite simply, as an abysmally bad novel ... The Rainbow: the first chapter seemed magnificent; after all, I decided, Lawrence had everything – ...

Diary

Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter

12 March 1992
... to be turned by critics from an SF cult figure into a main-stream literary person: ‘Ballard is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath, or even the same paragraph, as such peers as Anthony Powell or Iris Murdoch. Fans such as Kingsley Amis and Anthony Burgess praise Ballard to the skies but they themselves are classified differently, as, God help us, “serious writers” in comparison ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks

18 August 1983
Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... Unlike the publication in 1975 of the touching acute letters of Cyril Connolly to Noel Blakiston, the publication of Connolly’s Journal (1928-1937) does not serve him, except right. He found D.H. Lawrence insufficiently magnanimous (‘Notice how carefully Lawrence refuses to recognise virtue in anyone but himself’), and his sponsor David Pryce-Jones now finds F.R. Leavis much the same, so it may be ...

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