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30 March 1989
... Your cool high-ceilinged life is naked as a stage, as if you’d taken an apartment where the set-designer of your dreams had recently moved out. It is a theatre after the première, filled up to emptiness with applause. I think of God the Almighty after the ball, sitting as you imagined him on the palace steps, asleep in his slippers and topper. Let there (he mumbles in his slumber, dreamy and calmly ...

A Chinese Tale

Michael Hulse

27 July 1989
... I dreamt I was the simple trusting boy who took his wicked teacher’s jealous hand and climbed the mountain. And the teacher said he had to go away, but he’d be back, and if I happened to be hungry, why, all I need do was eat the stones. His eyes were fine strokes of a calligrapher’s brush conveying messages I could not read (though how I longed to learn and understand). I thanked the honest man ...
3 February 2000
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 263 pp., £16.99, December 1999, 1 86046 623 0
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... away from the main narrative, only to be returned again, breathless and unprepared, to the measured, detailed account. The oddness and formality of the writing make it feel like a translation, but MichaelHulse works very closely with Sebald in transforming the original German into English. I suspect that the translation from the German is remarkably good. It is as if the reader, too, is in exile, not ...
23 May 1991
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 908 4
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Dog Fox Field 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 103 pp., £6.95, February 1991, 0 85635 950 5
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True Colours 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 102 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 910 6
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Eating strawberries in the Necropolis 
by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1991, 0 00 272076 0
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... C.H. Sisson (b. 1914) has had a quietly distinguished but consistent and latterly accelerated literary career. Since his retirement from the Civil Service, publications have come more frequently. Michael Schmidt, his colleague on PN Review, has promoted his work; and Donald Davie, in one of those hot flushes that make his criticism so unpredictable and exciting, has declared Sisson’s ‘The Usk ...


James Wood

5 August 1993
TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... is an obvious disaster; the 55 poets, you feel, blush for it. Mostly they contradict it. The style of interesting poets like Peter Didsbury, John Ash, Pauline Stainer and one of the editors, MichaelHulse, is not particularly ‘democratic’, but playfully enigmatic and donnish. There is a tendency to think aloud with a somewhat creaky jauntiness, as if the poets were sharing secrets with their desks ...

The German Ocean

D.J. Enright: Suffolk Blues

17 September 1998
The Rings of Saturn 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 296 pp., £15.99, June 1998, 1 86046 398 3
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... moth’. Nothing in this lengthy excursus is unduly far-fetched, though not all of it seems worth the fetching. More engaging is a visit to the village of Middleton, and to the poet and critic Michael Hamburger, whose dreams and memories might have been created expressly for this book. ‘Why it was that on my first visit to Michael’s house I instantly felt as if I lived or had once lived there ...


Jonathan Coe

20 March 1997
The Emigrants 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 237 pp., £14.99, June 1996, 1 86046 127 1
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... utterly botched. These words appear towards the very end of The Emigrants. Not only do they convey an impression of Sebald’s habitual tone – measured, reflective and beautifully served by MichaelHulse’s translation – but they illustrate his tact in a wider sense. It is only at this point in the book that we have finally been challenged by an explicit reference to the Holocaust, an event ...

What was it that so darkened our world?

Benjamin Markovits: W.G. Sebald

18 October 2001
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Anthea Bell.
Hamish Hamilton, 415 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 241 14125 7
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... the flame down low, to scarcely a flicker. The source of Austerlitz can be traced to the fourth part of The Emigrants, the first of Sebald’s novels to be translated from his native German (by MichaelHulse) and published in Britain, where Sebald has lived since 1966. In that episode, Sebald describes the life of Max Ferber (based loosely on the painter Frank Auerbach), a Jewish boy sent to ...

Jamming up the Flax Machine

Matthew Reynolds: Ciaran Carson’s Dante

8 May 2003
The ‘Inferno’ of Dante Alighieri 
a new translation by Ciaran Carson.
Granta, 296 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 1 86207 525 5
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... intermediary presence of the translator: we like to think that the book in front of us is Vertigo by W.G. Sebald (say), whereas really it is Vertigo, a version of Sebald’s Schwindel. Gefühle. by MichaelHulse. In the Belfast poems, the movement of words from one place or voice to another is a focus of attention. Carson encourages us to see that the slightest transposition matters. When he writes ...
20 February 2014
... Ithaca, New York; and Max Ferber, a fictional character based on the painter Frank Auerbach, who left his parents behind in Germany in 1939, when he escaped for England.When The Emigrants appeared in MichaelHulse’s English translation, in 1996, it was often described as a book about four victims of the Holocaust, which it was not – only two of the emigrants are direct victims. Because the book is ...

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