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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 millenarianism, the last, in May this year, a review of Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ ...

Memories of Frank Kermode

Stefan Collini, Karl Miller, Adam Phillips, Jacqueline Rose, James Wood, Michael Wood and Wynne Godley, 23 September 2010

... 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 point. On the appointed day the weather was kind, and ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... 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 concentration on the object of attention’ – his ...

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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Enthusiasms 
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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... 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 about opera becomes an intriguing moral moment. People who ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese, 16 November 2006

The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... 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 and not just lawless. Scorsese doesn’t deny or moralise ...

Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 2 July 1998

... 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 – which one? – pregnant with the local chickenhawk ...

The Subtleties of Frank Kermode

Michael Wood, 17 December 2009

... Frank Kermode is too multifarious a writer to have anything as dogged as a theme for his critical work; too sane and stealthy to boast of anything as limiting as an obsession. But there are persistences, continuities, as he calls them in the title of one of his books. There is an interest in difficulty, for example, and especially the difficulty of understanding – either oneself or others ...

Diary

Duncan McLean: Frank Sargeson, 7 June 2018

... 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 garden gate as Frame leaves for Europe on a literary ...

Echoes

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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... 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 confused, though themselves in turn consoled by remembering ...
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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... 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 a weird and unsuspected nationalist: but it also makes ...

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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... 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 ...

Philip Roth’s House of Fiction

Michael Mason, 6 December 1979

The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... 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 to the real Amy the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: The gangster movie, 13 December 2007

American Gangster 
directed by Ridley Scott.
November 2007
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... 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 paying off. We know what ‘true story’ means in such ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’ , 14 August 2008

The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... 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 didn’t want and didn’t keep the jewels, he just ...

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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... 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 son, he is mocking both doubt and faith, both literal and ...

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