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Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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Striker 
by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... soccer seems particularly unfortunate. The sporting life has its own seediness, according to Michael Irwin whose footballer Vince Gilpin is another representative hero. Vince displays a wild temperament at times, and an ambitious nature that can leap over itself, as it does finally in his fall from grace. But his hooliganism, unlike that of William ...

Cheeky

Norman Page, 16 March 1989

Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... a strange and haunting and utterly different kind of novel that Goode does not even mention. As Michael Irwin points out in his analysis of the ten-line poem ‘Waiting Both’ – in the latest issue of the Thomas Hardy Journal – whereas poets usually address objects (such as Grecian urns) that cannot answer back, Hardy effects ‘a bold, almost ...

The Road to Sligo

Tom Paulin, 17 May 1984

Poetry and Metamorphosis 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Cambridge, 97 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 521 24848 5
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Translations 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 120 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 19 211958 3
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Conversation with the Prince 
by Tadeusz Rozewicz, translated by Adam Czerniawski.
Anvil, 206 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 85646 079 6
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Passions and Impressions 
by Pablo Neruda, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 396 pp., £16.50, October 1983, 0 571 12054 7
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An Empty Room 
by Leopold Staff, translated by Adam Czerniawski.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £3.25, March 1983, 0 906427 52 5
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... pure style aims to express the inexpressible. Commenting on Czerniawski’s sympathetic artistry, Michael Irwin has noted that while Milosz’s translations of Rozewicz appear ‘irreducible’, Czerniawski improves on them by his daring elisions and sharp intelligence. The result is a poetry of ‘absolute transparency’, and some Polish reviewers have ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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Bandanna 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... Le Passemuraille, about a man who can walk through walls, would have interested Thomas Caulfield Irwin (1823-92). Irwin is cited in Paul Muldoon’s To Ireland, I for a neighbourly dispute he was having with one John O’Donovan. ‘He says I am his enemy,’ Irwin wrote, ‘and watch ...

Mecca Bound

Robert Irwin, 21 July 1994

The Hajj: Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places 
by F.E. Peters.
Princeton, 399 pp., £19.95, July 1994, 0 691 02120 1
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Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj under the Ottomans 
by Suraiya Faroqhi.
Tauris, 244 pp., £34.50, May 1994, 1 85043 606 1
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The Hadj: A Pilgrimage to Mecca 
by Michael Wolfe.
Secker, 331 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 436 58404 2
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... early decades of this century, some Africans financed their pilgrimage by selling their children. Michael Wolfe’s The Hadj is the story of an American convert’s pilgrimage made in 1990. Wolfe, who also writes novels, conscientiously avoids the politics of the contemporary hajj and his responses seem curiously muted. He enjoyed many encounters with his ...

Only the Camels

Robert Irwin: Wilfred Thesiger, 6 April 2006

Wilfred Thesiger: The Life of the Great Explorer 
by Alexander Maitland.
HarperCollins, 528 pp., £25, February 2006, 0 00 255608 1
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... that gives his prose its precision. These letters and the diaries are Maitland’s chief source. Michael Asher’s fine Thesiger: A Biography (1994) chiefly relied on conversations with Thesiger and those who had known him, supplemented by the published works. Now, Maitland’s painstaking use and critical correlation of the Thesiger papers allows him to ...

Top Grumpy’s Top Hate

Robert Irwin: Richard Aldington’s Gripes, 18 February 1999

Richard Aldington and Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale 
by Fred Crawford.
Southern Illinois, 265 pp., £31.95, July 1998, 0 8093 2166 1
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Lawrence the Uncrowned King of Arabia 
by Michael Asher.
Viking, 419 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87029 3
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... to treat Lawrence as simply the preux chevalier, the schoolboyish hero of derring-do romance. Michael Asher in his fine biographical study, Lawrence the Uncrowned King of Arabia, does not attempt to do so. Asher, who has travelled by camel and by foot where Lawrence went before him, is intensely aware of the genuine feats of endurance and courage ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist, 5 June 2003

... with a Minimalist sensitivity to space – as any of the artists. In 1994 Wright made way for Michael Govan, a protégé of Thomas Krens, the director of the Guggenheim Museum. By this time, Dia had acquired nearly seven hundred works, and to show this collection needed more space than the real-estate market in Manhattan would allow. From a plane above ...

Ozymandias Syndrome

Robert Irwin, 24 August 1995

Islamic Architecture 
by Robert Hillenbrand.
Edinburgh, 645 pp., £49.50, November 1994, 0 7486 0479 0
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The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 
by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom.
Yale, 348 pp., £45, August 1994, 0 300 05888 8
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The Mosque: History, Architectural Development and Regional Diversity 
edited by Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan.
Thames and Hudson, 288 pp., £36, November 1994, 0 500 34133 8
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Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey 
by Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby.
Alexandria Press/Laurence King, 384 pp., £60, July 1994, 1 85669 054 7
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... of the painting, the eye can wander about as it pleases. In a recent book on Mughal painting, Michael Rogers observed that ‘in many fine Islamic paintings, as indeed in the late Gothic manuscript painting of Northern Europe, it is left to the viewer to organise the space as he or she will, the eye roving from exquisite detail to exquisite detail without ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... A bientôt.’ 27 April. R. and I drive over to Rievaulx where they are to video the titles of Irwin’s TV history series, Heroes or Villains?, in the sequence which opens the second act of the play. En route we stop and have our sandwiches at Byland, where we are the only visitors this cold and cloudy morning. As an abbey it’s always more peaceful ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... On a drive through the family estate in 1935, the married President, Franklin Roosevelt, starts up a romance with his cousin. The two imagine moving after he leaves office into a cottage he is planning to build on what they affectionately call ‘Our Hill’. The President’s secretary, who lives at the White House (and has lived with the President since he was Governor of New York), thinks her boss will be moving into the cottage with her ...

11 September

LRB Contributors, 4 October 2001

... and comfort to the Islamists’ struggle against the global hegemony of the United States. Robert Irwin London I have been reluctant to comment on the recent ‘events’ because the event in question, as history, is incomplete and one can even say that it has not yet fully happened. Obviously there are immediate comments one can make, in particular on the ...

Elegant Extracts

Leah Price: Anthologies, 3 February 2000

The Oxford Book of English Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 690 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 214182 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume One 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2974 pp., £22.50, December 1999, 0 393 97487 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2963 pp., £22.50, February 2000, 9780393974911
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume One 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2963 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01173 2
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume Two 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2982 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01174 0
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Night & Horses & The Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature 
edited by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 7139 9153 4
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News that Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 189 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 0 571 20060 5
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Time’s Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Anvil, 157 pp., £7.95, November 1999, 0 85646 313 2
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Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Penguin, 640 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780140588996
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... Paul Lauter’s revisionist Heath Anthology of American Literature (1990) and Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner’s English Literatures of America (1996), but they do so in diametrically opposed ways. The new Norton turns outward to include a staggering array of post-colonial writers, from Chinua Achebe to Alice Munro to Les Murray. (None of the ten ...

What’s not to like?

Stefan Collini: Ernest Gellner, 2 June 2011

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography 
by John Hall.
Verso, 400 pp., £29.99, July 2010, 978 1 84467 602 6
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... for example, to the seductions of the form of conservatism promoted by his LSE colleague Michael Oakeshott, observing tartly that ‘tradition may be elegance, competence, courage, modesty and realism … it is also bullshit, servility, vested interest, arbitrariness, empty ritual.’ Gellner didn’t do ideological enthusiasm, but he was at the same ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... Capote, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Penn Warren, Peter Matthiessen, Philip Roth, Irwin Shaw and the always vivacious William Burroughs (‘He is an absolutely astonishing personage, with the grim mad face of Savonarola and a hideously tailored 1925 shit-coloured overcoat and scarf to match with a grey fedora pulled down tight around his ...

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