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Unspeakability

John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

The Magician’s Doubts 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 252 pp., £18, August 1994, 0 7011 6197 3
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... interesting thing about the writer in question. Often, though, this invented self is a problem. Michael Wood’s oustandingly brilliant new book is in part a corrective to the public persona adopted by his subject. Wood calls this persona ‘Nabokov the mandarin’, and robustly describes it as ‘a set ... of ...

Dentists? No Way

Naoise Dolan, 7 January 2021

As You Were 
by Elaine Feeney.
Harvill Secker, 392 pp., £14.99, August 2020, 978 1 78730 163 4
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... them.’Feeney balances this material against evasion and omission – the John McGahern and Anne Enright school of hiding trauma in narrative cracks. As You Were is haunted by the abuses of women in recent Irish history. Between 1925 and 1961 a maternity home for unmarried mothers and their children operated in Tuam, a large town in Galway, the county in ...

Social Arrangements

John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... itself – the incisively intelligent ‘academic-administrative’ verses of Larkin, Wain and Enright – could not help endorsing the most negative feedback of all – English gentility, the ‘decency and other social totems’ that ‘muddle through’. New poetry had to have ‘a new seriousness; the new poet must face the full range of his ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks, 6 June 1985

The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... of his ‘Who ...’?) But the difficulty with the radical’s ‘Who whom?’ is that it invites Michael Frayn’s reasonable regression: Who asks ‘Who whom?’?The blurb to the wonderful vast new Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk-Greenbaum-Leech-Svartvik) says truly of its quadrumvirate that they are ‘acknowledged to be leading ...

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