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Two Poems

Michael Schmidt, 22 November 1979

... A Savage Dream I had a savage dream of destinations: A ten-foot fence, barbed, and on the wire Bones and the rags of prisoners. I had This dream, and woke in the cool English air. For My Father I learn the dead wear shoes. Their beards cast a last shadow. Kissing your face, I’m troubled by the roughness As when you came to tuck me up, Brushed my cheek with yours And tip-toed out ...

Gringo

Penelope Fitzgerald, 21 August 1980

The Colonist 
by Michael Schmidt.
Frederick Muller, 125 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 584 31056 0
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... them either, and yet they are right in thinking that childhood reminiscences make seductive books. Michael Schmidt was brought up in Mexico, and in his ‘not strictly autobiographical novel’, The Colonist, he turns with brilliant and painful concentration to his early years. No doubt he was in search of himself, and the making of what he now is – a ...

A to Z

Ian Hamilton: Schmidt’s List, 4 March 1999

Lives of the Poets 
by Michael Schmidt.
Weidenfeld, 960 pp., £22, October 1998, 0 297 84014 2
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A Critical Difference: T.S. Eliot and John Middleton Murry in English Literary Criticism, 1919-28 
by David Goldie.
Oxford, 232 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 19 812379 5
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... also, since none of the poets under scrutiny was still alive at the time of Johnson’s writing. Michael Schmidt’s lives of the Poets is not at all like Johnson’s. Indeed, it is by no means certain that Schmidt has taken the trouble to investigate the famous works of his precursor. He seems to think that ...

Chiara Ridolfi

C.K. Stead, 9 October 1986

Innocence 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 223105 0
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The Dresden Gate 
by Michael Schmidt.
Hutchinson, 152 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 09 165510 2
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First Fictions: Introduction 9 
by Deborah Moffat, Kristien Hemmerechts, Douglas Glover, Dorothy Nimmo and Jaci Stephen.
Faber, 255 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13607 9
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Continent 
by Jim Crace.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 434 14824 5
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... answers to its own implied questions. It is a work of strange, muted power and intelligence. Michael Schmidt doesn’t make entry to The Dresden Gate easy. For quite some time I was totally confused about how the various characters related one to another. And I never understood why these people with Spanish names in an unspecified South or Central ...

Dithyrambs for Athens

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The difficulties of reading Pindar, 17 February 2005

Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity and the Classical Tradition 
by John T. Hamilton.
Harvard, 348 pp., £17.95, April 2004, 0 674 01257 7
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The First Poets: Lives of the Ancient Greek Poets 
by Michael Schmidt.
Weidenfeld, 449 pp., £20, April 2004, 0 297 64394 0
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... Luther’s verse in order to make it intend (bestimmen) the future’. The first paragraphs of Michael Schmidt’s chapter on Pindar crisply delineate the difference between Pindar and the Pindarisers, which Hamilton may seem to blur. He also maintains that Pindar, though obscure for those who do not recognise his allusions (some alarmingly easy ...

The Land of Serendipity

D.J. Enright, 23 September 1993

The True Paradise 
by Gamini Salgado.
Carcanet, 192 pp., £14.95, May 1993, 1 85754 007 7
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... and finally, in 1977, as Professor of English at Exeter. He died in 1985, at the age of 56. As Michael Schmidt remarks in his preface, posthumous publication often has an air of piety about it. Not in this case. The pieces in The True Paradise have been sparely and efficiently edited by Salgado’s widow, Fenella Copplestone, who has had the excellent ...

The Art of Arno Schmidt

Michael Irwin, 2 October 1980

Evening Edged in Gold 
by Arno Schmidt.
Marion Boyars, 215 pp., £60, September 1980, 9780714527192
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Confessions of a Lady-Killer 
by George Stade.
Muller, 374 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 584 31057 9
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Seahorse 
by Graham Petrie.
Constable, 169 pp., £5.95, August 1980, 0 09 463710 5
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... seeming to assume that this knowledge will be common to all cultivated people. In the case of Arno Schmidt I am tempted towards no such subterfuges, partly because my ignorance of the man and his work, prior to my reading of Evening Edged in Gold, was total, partly because I imagine numerous other potential British readers will be in a similar position. Any ...

Retrospective

Donald Davie, 2 February 1984

A World of Difference 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 7011 2693 0
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... trial. But his name comes in handily because it has been coupled with MacCaig’s. This was by Michael Schmidt, who pointed out that the sort of figurative writing associated with Raine, patented as ‘ludic’, had been practised by MacCaig from long ago. What Schmidt had in mind must have been something like ...

Locked and Barred

Robert Crawford: Elizabeth Jennings, 24 July 2003

New Collected Poems 
by Elizabeth Jennings.
Carcanet, 386 pp., £9.95, February 2002, 1 85754 559 1
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... Jennings, who died two years ago, wrote too many poems. She was careless about her output, sending Michael Schmidt, her editor at Carcanet, ‘sacks’ of manuscript work to sift through and make into a collection. Even he seems occasionally to have lost track. His sympathetic and shrewd introduction records that her own favourite among her poems was ...

What became of Modernism?

C.K. Stead, 1 May 1980

Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... A mystique of language for its own sake is the power source and the danger of Modernism. Michael Schmidt’s five American poets avoid (the best of their work avoids) both abstractions. The language has a life of its own and a life in relation to a recognisable real world, as in James McMichael’s ‘Compline’: Gudique is the chastening. She ...

An Outline of Outlines

Graham Hough, 7 May 1981

... which has been endlessly discussed already? The need for these pieces is not exactly pressing: but Michael Schmidt, as those who have read him in PN Review will agree, is an extremely sensitive and discriminating critic of poetry, and surprisingly often within these rather forbidding limits he manages to say something fresh and valuable. On what for me ...

Ancient Orthodoxies

C.K. Stead, 23 May 1991

Antidotes 
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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... 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’ to be ‘one of the great poems of our ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... sort of poetry that Fenton writes, and that is also written, in their various ways, by Fuller, by Michael Hofmann, Tom Paulin, Christopher Reid and others. Certainly the romantic rhetoric that is second nature to Larkin, as to Auden, Yeats and Eliot, has no place in their poetic repertoire. It once seemed so ‘natural’, but beside their literariness and ...

Donald Davie and the English

Christopher Ricks, 22 May 1980

Trying to Explain 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 213 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 85635 343 4
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... scene to Geneva, for reasons which I understand’; and the publisher of this book itself, Michael Schmidt of the Carcanet Press and of PN Review (of which Davie is an editor), is Davie’s double-goer off in the opposite direction (‘American by conditioning, but Mexican by citizenship and an English resident by preference’). Davie repeatedly ...

Young and Old

John Sutherland, 15 October 1981

Life Stories 
by A.L. Barker.
Hogarth, 319 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 7012 0538 5
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Many Men and Talking Wives 
by Helen Muir.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 7156 1613 7
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Good Behaviour 
by Molly Keane.
Deutsch, 245 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 9780233973326
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A Separate Development 
by Christopher Hope.
Routledge, 199 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7100 0954 2
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From Little Acorns 
by Howard Buten.
Harvester, 156 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7108 0390 7
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Fortnight’s Anger 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 85635 376 0
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... poetry list, its very successful co-operation with the Arts Council and the dynamic leadership of Michael Schmidt. Fortnight’s Anger has a melodramatic outline. The hero, Ken Fortnight (a law student), returns to the deathbed of his mother. He has a showdown with his father, the ‘Colonel’, and a reunion with his schizophrenic younger ...

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