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Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... This is the first of two volumes in which Alan Heuser is making a selection of Louis MacNeice’s occasional writings. The first is mainly his reviews of Classical and modern literature; the second will bring together his fugitive pieces on philosophy, history, travel and autobiography. The currently renewed interest in MacNeice arises from two considerations: one, that he deserves better than to be regarded as merely one of Auden’s acolytes; two, that he may be seen as precursor to the young poets in Northern Ireland who have been making a stir, if not a Renaissance, since 1968 ...

Smartened Up

Ian Hamilton, 9 March 1995

Louis MacNeiceA Biography 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Faber, 538 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 571 16019 0
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... Why did Louis MacNeice have to wait thirty years for a biography? He died comparatively young – aged 55 – and was outlived by almost everyone he knew: wives, girlfriends, classmates, colleagues. He led an active public life, had two careers – in universities and with the BBC – and was well known as a poet from quite early on ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice, 7 February 2008

Louis MacNeiceCollected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeiceSelected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... As Louis MacNeice lay dying in 1963, his last major work, a radio play called Persons from Porlock, was broadcast by the BBC. It is about a painter called Hank, who starts well in the 1930s, but whose development, as MacNeice explains in a note, ‘is interrupted by the war ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... Louis MacNeice wrote stylish lyric poems and was at his best when brief and autobiographical. One way or another, he always was autobiographical. But the short poems often succeed because they seem sincere and understated; longer works, like his Autumn Journal and Autumn Sequel and many of his radio plays, run the risk of monotony and a kind of narcissism ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice, 3 March 2011

Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... Louis MacNeice’s influence is everywhere in contemporary poetry, in its forms and in its forms of engagement. Certain strands in his work – questions of identity, nationality, responsibility – became, with the advent of the Troubles, critically important to a celebrated generation of Northern Irish poets, poets like Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and Muldoon ...

All the Cultural Bases

Ian Sansom, 20 March 1997

Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland 
by Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell.
Faber, 160 pp., £7.99, November 1996, 0 571 17539 2
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... about Iceland. He spent three months in the country, part of the time travelling with his friend Louis MacNeice and a group of schoolboys and a teacher from Bryanston School. Auden and MacNeice collaborated in the writing of the book, which was published in 1937 as Letters from Iceland. It contained not only Auden’s ...

Like the trees on Primrose Hill

Samuel Hynes, 2 March 1989

Louis MacNeiceA Study 
by Edna Longley.
Faber, 178 pp., £4.95, August 1988, 0 571 13748 2
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Louis MacNeiceSelected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £4.95, August 1988, 0 571 15270 8
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A Scatter of Memories 
by Margaret Gardiner.
Free Association, 280 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 1 85343 043 9
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... In ‘The Cave of Making’, his elegy for MacNeice, Auden describes his friend as a ‘lover of women and Donegal’. The geography seems a bit wrong – the Irish counties in MacNeice’s heart were surely Antrim and Galway – but the terms are apt enough for the man in the poems: a lover, certainly, and of both women and the land of his birth ...

Noam’s Ark

Walter Nash, 25 October 1990

The Twitter Machine: Reflections on Language 
by Neil Smith.
Blackwell, 275 pp., £9.95, September 1989, 0 631 16926 1
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English in Use 
by Randolph Quirk and Gabriele Stein.
Longman, 262 pp., £17.95, September 1990, 0 582 06612 3
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... after all, is ‘The Twitter Machine’? Is it the human mind, which, to borrow a phrase from Louis MacNeice, ‘clicks like scissors’, snipping out instructions for the creation of language? Does it refer to what most of us mean by ‘language’, the working components, audible or visible, of speech and writing? Or might it be a merry metaphor ...

Golden Boy

Denis Donoghue, 22 December 1983

W.H.Auden: The Critical Heritage 
edited by John Haffenden.
Routledge, 535 pp., £19.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9350 0
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Auden: A Carnival of Intellect 
by Edward Callan.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 19 503168 7
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Drawn from the Life: A Memoir 
by Robert Medley.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 571 13043 7
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... accounted for the reception of The Orators when it appeared in May 1932. By the end of that year, Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, Geoffrey Grigson, Michael Roberts, Bonamy Dobrée, John Hayward and Graham Greene had nominated Auden as the new voice. The six odes and the epilogue of The Orators, Greene said, justified Auden’s ‘being named in the same ...

Uncle Wiz

Stefan Collini: Auden, 16 July 2015

Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. V: 1963-68 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 561 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. VI: 1969-73 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 790 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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... headings, with only occasional passages of explanation or commentary. Similarly, his editing (with Louis Kronenberger) of A Book of Aphorisms (1962) expressed a collector’s delight in showing off his treasures. In the foreword to what is generally regarded as his best critical work, The Dyer’s Hand, published in 1962, he articulated a similar preference ...

Terrible to be alive

Julian Symons, 5 December 1991

Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... American writers, about their British counterparts much less so. He observed at one point that Louis MacNeice sometimes sounded like ‘a serious Ogden Nash’. There has been no British critic so finely tuned to the sound of the modern as Wilson was in his two great decades. Neither Leavis nor Empson was conspicuously successful in discovering young ...

Valorising Valentine Brown

Patricia Craig, 5 September 1985

Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... to an unsatisfactory present – ‘Man is in love and loves what vanishes’ – and (as Louis MacNeice has it) ‘in defiance of the Gaelic League’ and all it stood for, doesn’t in the least detract from its efficacy. As for ‘tradition’ and the literary critics’ ‘valorisation’ of it – McCormack advises us to bear in mind the ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... of national distinctiveness. Such a past needn’t be beyond one’s own recall, as we find in Louis MacNeice’s enumeration of the egregious inheritances of Ulster: The linen mills, the long wet grass, the ragged hawthorn. And one read black where the other read white, his hope The other man’s damnation: Up the Rebels, To Hell with the Pope, And ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... Crabbe, Hopkins, Whitman, Campion, Morris, Christina Rossetti, John Crowe Ransom, Wyndham Lewis, Louis MacNeice, Stevie Smith. I would think a life of diverse affections could be made upon such affiliations. But Grigson seems to need to be enraged or disgusted, too. Else why would he go to the disfiguring bother of writing, publishing and reprinting his ...

The Wind Dog

Tom Paulin, 17 October 1996

... a lectric bell under the dining-room carpet to call the maid who’d left way back as surely as Louis MacNeice alias Louis Malone had left the city on the lough and then had shuffled off this wiry copper coil long before the city hit the news again but it’s not the dring of that bell I’d press so my granny’d ...

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