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Frank​ Kermode

Mary-Kay Wilmers: On Frank​ Kermode

9 September 2010
... Papers speak through their writers. And of all the London Review’s writers Frank Kermode was the one through whom we spoke most often and most eloquently. In all he wrote nearly 250 pieces for the LRB, the first in October 1979, a review of J.F.C. Harrison’s book on ...

Memories of Frank​ Kermode

Stefan Collini, Karl Miller, Adam Phillips, Jacqueline Rose, James Wood, Michael​ Wood and Wynne Godley

23 September 2010
... Stefan Collini writes: ‘Yes, I’d like that very much. That really would be something to look forward to.’ Frank was already weakened and wasted by throat cancer, but my suggestion that we go to watch some cricket at Fenner’s did seem genuinely to appeal to him. There wasn’t much to look forward to by this ...

On Michael​ O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael​ O’Brien

16 February 2017
... Very few​ significant American poets called as little attention to themselves in their lifetimes as Michael O’Brien, who died last November at the age of 77. Much as with Lorine Niedecker – whose ‘silences’, he wrote, ‘derive from an intellectual conviction that art, like science, demands total ...

Three Poems

Michael​ Hofmann

2 July 1998
... sitting on the pavement with his boots in the gutter – we must have made his day when we pulled over and asked him for the site of the Iron Age fort in his conservation village. My Life and Loves Frank Harris. And a syringe for afters. Parerga In the bedside drawer of a hotel room in the black naugahyde and pigtail German Eighties, I came upon the Yellow Pages and a Gideon Bible, one of them – ...

Opera Mundi

Michael​ Neve

1 December 1983
Out of Order 
by Frank​ Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank​ Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank​ Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael​ Frayn 
by Michael​ Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... as opera. The social history of opera is instructive in other ways – above all, in the way people talk and write about it. There seem to be two positions: a modest one, a way of liking opera, as Frank Johnson does, on the quiet, without shouting about it, and an orgiastic one, where one is cosmically-life-affirmingly-overwhelmed by it, as Bernard Levin is. What we are talking about when we talk ...

At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: Scorsese

16 November 2006
The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... gangster myth is not different from anyone else’s, but his take on it is. There is no 1930s grandeur in his crime movies, and no family friendliness as in the Godfather films. No one suffers like Michael Corleone from the anxieties of extreme power (‘If history has taught us anything, it is that we can kill anyone’). Everyone, by implication, still wants to be a gangster, but the wish is insane ...


Duncan McLean: Frank​ Sargeson

7 June 2018
... the writer Janet Frame. In the film we see Frame, played by Kerry Fox, recently released from a long spell in a mental hospital, given shelter and support by a white-goateed older writer called Frank Sargeson, played by Martyn Sanderson. She lives and types in his garden shed, finishes a novel, and sends it off to a publisher he has recommended. The novel is accepted and Sargeson waves at the ...

Magician behind Bars

Michael​ Rogin: David Mamet in a Cul de Sac

2 July 1998
The Old Religion 
by David Mamet.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.99, May 1998, 0 571 19260 2
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... On 15 August 1915, a band of 25 men, among them the leading citizens of Marietta, Georgia, kidnapped Leo Frank from the Milledgeville Prison Farm, tied a rope around his neck and lynched him. Frank, the Jewish manager of an Atlanta pencil factory owned by his uncle, had been convicted of the perverted sexual abuse and murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, who worked at the factory. He was ...
6 December 1979
The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... in the night after he has overheard Amy begging Lonoff to kiss her breasts. Nathan’s fantasy about Amy is that she is herself a fantasist, and that she imagines herself to be none other than Anne Frank (in the interlocking fashion of the novel, Anne Frank has earlier been extolled by Nathan’s father as the ideal Jewish author). The reader is extraordinarily disconcerted when the narrative returns ...


Tom Phillips

2 April 1981
English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... to what is going on at the moment. He would perhaps be bewildered and dismayed to learn that we are so well into Post-Modernism that Neo-Modernism must be just over the hill. Indeed, according to Frank Kermode, we passed out of Palaeo-Modernism some time ago (imperceptibly, one presumes, as through the tail of a comet). He might, however, be consoled by the knowledge that artists themselves are ...

At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’

14 August 2008
The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... partners, the consolidated mobs of Gotham. It’s alright, he informs them with a cackle, he is burning only his half of the proceeds. The background to this event is an anecdote-cum-fable that Michael Caine, as the faithful servant Alfred, tells Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. There was a bandit in Burma, apparently, who stole jewels at will from almost everyone and was never caught – because he ...

Tricky Minds

Michael​ Wood: Dostoevsky

5 September 2002
Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet 1871-81 
by Joseph Frank.
Princeton, 784 pp., £24.95, May 2002, 0 691 08665 6
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... an evocation of the shadow of a coachman cleaning the shadow of a coach with the shadow of a brush. The glance at Voltaire, the mention of Luther and the Enlightenment, all indicate, as Joseph Frank says, a crafty parody of advanced Russian thought. Fyodor Pavlovich is not an intellectual, but he knows how intellectuals talk. But of course he is up to other mischief as well. He is teasing his ...
18 September 1980
Selected Poems 
by Patricia Beer.
Hutchinson, 152 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 09 138450 8
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The Venetian Vespers 
by Anthony Hecht.
Oxford, 91 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 19 211933 8
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Nostalgia for the Present 
by Andrei Voznesensky.
Oxford, 150 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 19 211900 1
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Reflections on the Nile 
by Ronald Bottrall.
London Magazine Editions, 56 pp., £3.50, May 1980, 0 904388 33 6
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Summer Palaces 
by Peter Scupham.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3, March 1980, 9780192119322
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... ever before – here are more of Brodsky’s short unrelated sentences following each other with uncompromising inventiveness and inquisitiveness. In his ‘Answer to Voznesensky – Evtushenko’, Frank O’Hara writes: ‘We are tired of your tiresome imitations of Mayakovsky/we are tired of your dreary tourist ideas of our Negro selves.’ O’Hara’s rebuff to the two Russian poets shows him as ...

At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: The gangster movie

13 December 2007
American Gangster 
directed by Ridley Scott.
November 2007
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... evoked by the title, a little overhaunted by past masterpieces and in the end perhaps dwarfed by them, but gripping and troubling all the way through. The film is based on the ‘true story’ of Frank Lucas, a black gangster who reigned in Harlem from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, when he went to jail for 15 years – a sentence reduced from 70 years because he named the policemen he had been ...

At Tate Britain

Frank​ Kermode: William Blake

14 December 2000
... with the labour of printing and illuminating it; or perhaps there was no preliminary composition, perhaps Blake used the copper plate as a sketchpad, as Peter Ackroyd suggests in his biography. Michael Phillips’s replicas of the original plates testify to the artist’s industry and also to the devotion of modern Blakeans. The lay observer can hardly bear to contemplate the toil involved in all ...

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