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1 May 1980
Ethnic Power Mobilised: Can South Africa change? 
by Heribert Adam.
Yale, 308 pp., £14.20, October 1979, 0 300 02377 4
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Transkei’s Half Loaf: Race Separatism in South Africa 
by Newell Stultz.
Yale, 183 pp., £10.10, October 1979, 0 300 02333 2
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Year of Fire, Year of Ash The Soweto Revolt: Roots of a Revolution? 
by Baruch Hirson.
Zed, 348 pp., £12.95, June 1979, 0 905762 28 2
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The past is another country: Rhodesia 1890-1979 
by Martin Meredith.
Deutsch, 383 pp., £9.95, October 1979, 0 233 97121 1
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... history of Rhodesia, from the launching of the African National Congress under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo to the assumption of the premiership by the first black African occupant, is told by MartinMeredith, a British journalistwho worked in Southern Africa for the Observer and afterwards forthe Sunday Times, in a book with the curious title The past is another country. The misleading subtitle ...

Ripping Yarns

John Sutherland

8 April 1993
by Michael Thorn.
Little, Brown, 566 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90299 3
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by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 370 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 333 52205 2
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... of Ellen Ternan, or Rosemary Ashton’s of G.H. Lewes, which illumine by side-light. But just as publishers have found it pays to have five separate editions of Barchester Towers in print, but no Meredith or Lytton, so it pays to commission the same big familiar lives time and again. Because of the duplication biographers are keener than ever to find fresh angles. Few have new evidence, everyone has a ...


John Bayley

4 April 1985
With Friends Possessed: A Life of Edward FitzGerald 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Faber, 313 pp., £17.50, February 1985, 0 571 13462 9
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... it caught on. FitzGerald’s version of Omar Khayyam, which became the most popular poem of the century, is sui generis in the same way. It also seems to stand outside its author. Although Professor Martin does the best that can be done with him, FitzGerald was not, from the literary point of view, a particularly interesting man. He lacks the artistic quiddity of even such minor Victorian figures as ...

Dancing and Flirting

Mark Ford: Apollinaire

24 May 2018
Zone: Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Ron Padgett.
NYRB, 251 pp., £9.99, January 2016, 978 1 59017 924 6
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Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Martin​ Sorrell.
Oxford, 281 pp., £9.99, November 2015, 978 0 19 968759 6
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... line, ‘Soleil cou coupé’, as ‘Sun corseless head’. This perhaps underplays the violence which other translators have attempted to replicate in various ways: ‘Decapitated sun’ (William Meredith); ‘Sun slit throat’ (Anne Hyde Greet); ‘The sun a severed neck’ (Roger Shattuck); ‘Sun neck cut’ (Beverley Bie Brahic); ‘Let the sun beheaded be’ (David Lehman); ‘Sun sundered head ...
13 June 1991
Literature and Liberation: Selected Essays 
by Arnold Kettle, edited by Graham Martin and W.R. Owens.
Manchester, 231 pp., £9.95, February 1991, 9780719027734
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... novel, although one more interesting for the ideas behind it than as a book which ‘does not move or delight me as much as I feel it ought to’. And, again very convincingly, Kettle suggests that Meredith’s barbed-wire fence of extravagant style was a desperate attempt to conceal his lack of belief in the standpoint he had adapted, as he had adapted much in his style, from Carlyle. There is a fine ...

Likeable People

John Sutherland

15 May 1980
Book Society 
by Graham Watson.
Deutsch, 164 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 233 97160 2
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The Publishers Association Annual Report 1979-80 
73 pp.Show More
Private Presses and Publishing in England since 1945 
by H.E. Bellamy.
Clive Bingley, 168 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 85157 297 9
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... out of a million dollars. The cases are symptomatic.) In Madison’s analysis, agency destroys the sodality which flourished in the golden age between author and publisher. We are told that Scott Meredith, the most dynamic of contemporary American agents, will put a ‘hot’ book out for auction to thirty or forty publishers simultaneously. Partners thus brought together are unlikely to love or even ...


Robert Bernard Martin

4 April 1985
The Collected Letters of William Morris. Vol. I: 1848-1880 
edited by Norman Kelvin.
Princeton, 626 pp., £50.30, April 1984, 0 691 06501 2
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... uncluttered lay-out and handsome typography that we have come to expect of the Princeton Press. Professor Kelvin, who has written on Forster and is the author of an indispensable critical book about Meredith, has apparently been at work on this correspondence for a long time, and his familiarity shows, for the notes are admirably concise and relevant. Inevitably, in a book of this size, there are a few ...

Lord Fitzcricket

P.N. Furbank: The composer’s life

21 May 1998
Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric 
by Mark Amory.
Chatto, 274 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 234 2
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... afterwards was outfitted with a small harmonium,’ writes Miriam Benkovitz in her Ronald Firbank (1969). ‘He composed on it, deriving motifs from the countryside through which he drove.’ In Meredith Etherington-Smith’s Dalí (1992), this becomes: ‘When Dalí met him he was the First Secretary at the British Embassy in Rome, and excited a good deal of interest by driving about the city in a ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock

30 November 2000
King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... English fiction (the creative reading list), as he satirises it in King of the City, acquires an energy that it would not otherwise espouse. Here is the unreconstructed ‘engine of comedy’, Rex Martin (‘the famous farting novelist’) and his diminutive son, Felix. Here is ‘Jillian Burnes’, a transsexual romancer. But these knockabout cartoons are absorbed into a chiaroscuro of the forgotten ...

Starting over

Malise Ruthven

9 July 1987
Cities on a Hill 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Picador, 414 pp., £4.50, March 1987, 0 330 29845 3
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... eating immigrants’. The recent, more radical departure from the separatist tradition, however, occurred in response to the Civil Rights movement of the Sixties, when liberal preachers followed Martin Luther King’s use of religious vocabulary to challenge the status quo: the success of the movement demonstrated to conservatives like Falwell that preachers could be politically effective ...

The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969

15 August 2019
Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... day four: a torrential rainstorm had brought things to a standstill the previous afternoon and Hendrix didn’t make it onto the stage until Monday morning; most of the crowd had already left. With Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinated, Nixon in the White House, the Salt I treaty still a few years off and nearly half a million troops in Vietnam, three of those memorable turns were in ...

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