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Enough is enough

Patricia Beer, 26 September 1991

Diaries 
by Antonia White, edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 320 pp., £19.95, September 1991, 0 09 470650 6
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... We already have Antonia White’s sequence of unashamedly autobiographical novels, starting with Frost in May in 1933. We have her own straight account of her early life, As once in May. Then there are other autobiographical pieces: short stories and attempts at further novels and, for good measure, a set of highly autobiographical letters, The Hound and the ...

Byron at Sixty-Five

Edwin Morgan, 8 January 1987

... little ark – Not so little, I know – that sniffs the sea And rots and shivers here beneath St Mark. Every house moves in Venice, drifting down Canals of blackness to a mirrored town. How easily we slip into abstraction, And thoughts of gloom and distant things, things lost Or never won, the sour fruits of inaction, And joys that jaded with relentless ...

Little Do We Know

Mark Ford, 12 January 1995

The Annals of Chile 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 191 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 571 17205 9
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... the ablest of Muldoon scholars. Much of ‘Yarrow’ reverts to 1963 – the ‘year MacNeice and Frost and Plath all kicked the bucket’ – when Muldoon was 12 and immersed in boys’ adventure fiction: his favourite books are remembered thick and fast: the Westerns of Jack Schaefer, King Solomon’s Mines, The Lost World, Kidnapped, The Sign of Four, Rob ...

Glimpsed in the Glare

Michael Neill: Shakespeare in 1606, 17 December 2015

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 423 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 571 23578 0
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... who had ‘cracked the Tudor code’ was the botanist, horticulturalist and historian of gardening Mark Griffiths: his elaborately illustrated essay, ‘Face to Face with Shakespeare’, focused on John Gerard’s well-known Elizabethan manual of botany, The Herball or, General Historie of Plantes, and purported to demonstrate that one of the four seemingly ...

Green War

Patricia Craig, 19 February 1987

Poetry in the Wars 
by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 264 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 906427 74 6
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We Irish: The Selected Essays of Denis Donoghue 
Harvester, 275 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7108 1011 3Show More
The Battle of The Books 
by W.J. McCormack.
Lilliput, 94 pp., £3.95, October 1986, 0 946640 13 0
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The Twilight of Ascendancy 
by Mark Bence-Jones.
Constable, 327 pp., £14.95, January 1987, 0 09 465490 5
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl 
edited by John Quinn.
Methuen, 144 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 413 14350 3
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... like Edward Thomas. The first two essays in this book deal with Thomas, one relating him to Frost, the other to the English tradition – a sturdier strain of poetry than either the Georgian mode prevalent at the time Edward Thomas took to writing verse (1914-17) or the Modernism that displaced it. (A bit further on, there’s another essay which pairs ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on. Many a crusade has been smothered by the great big yawn of the British public. Norton-Taylor is not and never was Tam Dalyell’s or anyone else’s tame journalist. On the contrary, he started by being sceptical of ...

Editor’s Story

Peter Campbell, 18 November 1982

Of This Our Time 
by Tom Hopkinson.
Hutchinson, 317 pp., £8.95, April 1982, 9780091478605
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... and satellite television promise to make available. Hopkinson would probably rather have made his mark as a writer than as an editor. His first wife was Antonia White, and he desbribes how they would ‘sit for as many hours as we could allow or keep awake at our two desks. What I was writing was a novel – unpublished and happily never to be published ...

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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... poems, the one designed to illuminate the other. The approach is similar to that in his book on Frost a few years back, and on the whole works very well, although there are times when the biographer’s reluctance to speculate about the psychological basis of Jarrell’s split personality left this reader feeling short-changed. Pritchard’s reaction would ...

Knobs, Dots and Grooves

Peter Campbell: Henry Moore, 8 August 2002

Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations 
edited by Alan Wilkinson.
Lund Humphries, 320 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 85331 847 6
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The Penguin Modern Painters: A History 
by Carol Peaker.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 124 pp., £15, August 2001, 0 9527401 4 1
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... the publicity that accompanies them. Nearly half a century later, Kenneth Clark, writing to Eunice Frost at Penguin about the inclusion of Braque in the Modern Painters series, which had until then featured only British artists, said: The old scheme seemed to me valuable because it helped people to understand painters whose work they could buy, and it thereby ...

Playing with terror

Christopher Ricks, 21 January 1982

The Comfort of Strangers 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 134 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 224 01931 7
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... is as little mystery about the Grand Canal as about our local thoroughfare, and the name of St Mark is as familiar as the postman’s ring. The postman always rings twice, and there is much mystery in McEwan. The name of St Mark does not ring once, despite his elaborated descriptions of ‘one of the great tourist ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John Hartley Williams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... everyone seems to have some connection. But what? Why? Who knows, or cares, when, as Muldoon and Frost both point out, ‘all the fun’s in how you say a ...

Diary

Mark Ford: Love and Theft, 2 December 2004

... that in autumn, when the grapes Made sharp air sharper by their smell These had a being, breathing frost; And least will guess that with our bones We left much more, left what still is The look of things, left what we felt At what we saw. The children blithely picking up the bones of their ancestors, unaware of and indifferent to the sensual fullness of ...

Door Closing!

Mark Ford: Randall Jarrell, 21 October 2010

Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy 
by Randall Jarrell.
Chicago, 277 pp., £10.50, April 2010, 978 0 226 39375 9
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... country’s burgeoning university system. Of the great modernists of the previous era, only Robert Frost assumed the role of pedagogue to undergraduates, taking his first job at Amherst College in 1917. Pound, Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Hart Crane all lived by other means; though it’s worth pointing out that the poetry ...

Feuds Corner

Thomas Jones: Ismail Kadare, 6 September 2007

Chronicle in Stone 
by Ismail Kadare, translated by Arshi Pipa.
Canongate, 301 pp., £7.99, May 2007, 978 1 84195 908 5
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Agamemnon’s Daughter: A Novella and Stories 
by Ismail Kadare, original translation by Tedi Papavrami and Jusuf Vrioni, translated from the French by David Bellos.
Canongate, 226 pp., £7.99, August 2007, 978 1 84195 978 8
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The Successor 
by Ismail Kadare, original translation by Tedi Papavrami, translated from the French by David Bellos.
Canongate, 207 pp., £6.99, January 2007, 978 1 84195 887 3
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The File on H 
by Ismail Kadare, original translation by Jusuf Vrioni, translated from the French by David Bellos.
Vintage, 169 pp., £7.99, August 2006, 0 09 949719 0
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... means ‘prince’. He does not personally appear in the novel: standing in for him is his cousin, Mark Ukacierra, the ‘steward of the blood’. The servants are all terrified of him, and his obsessive devotion to the law of the blood feud verges on mania. His greatest fear is that the feuding will cease, that the blood will dry up: ‘On March 16 there were ...

Up to Islip

Rosalind Mitchison, 2 August 1984

An Old Man’s Diary 
by A.J.P. Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 155 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11247 8
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... its bounds. He might say, for he surely knows, that it was Manchester, where he first made his mark, that taught Oxford to value research in history. Before it succumbed to the Manchester influence, the dons in Oxford spent their summers reading the research of others, in various languages, and then in term instilled the conclusions into their ...

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