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What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham

18 July 2019
W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
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W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
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... in a girdered hive.(‘Let Me Measure My Prayer with Sleep’)Such lines exemplify something Michael Schmidt once identified in Graham’s voice as ‘a strange hostility towards the reader’. The influence of Dylan Thomas has often been noticed, and the effect of the densely packed verbalism is, as in Thomas, principally to imply the labour that ...


William Rodgers

30 March 1989
European Diary 1977-1981 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 698 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 00 217976 8
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... minister, coming third with 56 votes in the Parliamentary Labour Party behind Callaghan’s 84 and Michael Foot’s 90. When Callaghan won on the second ballot (Jenkins having withdrawn), it would have been magnanimous to offer the Foreign Office to the colleague best-equipped to hold it. But Callaghan felt personally uncomfortable with a man whose record at ...

What a Ghost Wants

Michael Newton: Laurent Binet

8 November 2012
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 336 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 479 7
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... of rebellion is depicted in many novels and films, from Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin to Michael Verhoeven’s The White Rose. Stauffenberg and the other conspirators of July 1944 understood that their plan to murder Hitler and stage a coup was unlikely to come off. Instead of success, there would be the recorded fact that they had tried. They played ...


D.A.N. Jones

5 April 1984
Old Catholics and Anglicans: 1931-1981 
edited by Gordon Huelin.
Oxford, 177 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 19 920129 3
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Anglican Essays 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 141 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 85635 456 2
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The Song of Roland 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 135 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 9780856354212
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by Joachim du Bellay, translated by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £4.50, January 1984, 0 85635 471 6
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... The thin sad slates that cover up my home ... If so, we should remember that other poets, like Michael Schmidt, hear in Sisson’s verse ‘a dominant and subtle rhythm that owes its expressive freedom to a close reading of the work of Ezra Pound’. It may seem surprising that so bold a translator should be so angry at the modern versions of the ...

My Americas

Donald Davie

3 September 1981
... versions were hawked in vain round the University Presses of North America: it was left to Michael Schmidt and Peter Jones of the relatively unfunded Carcanet Press to recognise the moral and cultural responsibility. In fact, I find my sympathy goes out to Drummond very easily indeed. I must declare an interest, for I was associated with Virginia ...


Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy

16 November 2017
... calls ‘epistemic vigilance’. After John Ashbery died in September, his publisher in the UK, Michael Schmidt, wrote: ‘Now that the life is done the work will go on shaping and reshaping language and the ways it makes various worlds real.’ Ashbery’s poetry tracks experiences – the more inconsequential the better – and in sequences of ...

Injury Time

Robert Taubman

2 July 1981
Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... would squeak if you rubbed your thumb on it, Arkady thought’ – as well as an American kind: ‘Schmidt showed a smile as hard as a car grille.’ But we never forget that this intimate inside-view of Russia comes from an American writer – which isn’t such a bad thing: it works to the advantage of the novel that a double image, Russian and American, is ...

At the Orangerie

Michael Hofmann: Marc and Macke

20 June 2019
... Alpine pendant to Die Brücke, the movement around Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in Dresden (the more westerly group was also the more international in outlook). Franz Marc’s ‘The First Animals’ (1913) There is something almost painfully joyful about the efforts of these often desperately poor and short-lived ...
8 February 1990
Boris Pasternak: The Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... the being of his own age. The novel in verse Spektorsky, and his quasiepical poems Lieutenant Schmidt and 1905 have much of the good qualities of his translations: that is, they achieve a wide but also meticulous impersonality of utterance, as if the poet, like his father the artist, were filling in canvases with professional skill and ...

Guerrilla International

Caroline Moorehead

6 August 1981
The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism 
by Claire Sterling.
Weidenfeld, 357 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 297 77968 0
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... think-tanks. The one ‘proof’ she offers for the Kremlin’s strategy is an interview by Michael Ledeen, editor of the Washington Quarterly Review (of the Georgetown Institute) with General Jan Sejna of Czechoslovakia, who defected to the United States in 1968. The General said nothing publicly on the subject of terrorism at the time of his ...

Remaking the Centre

David Marquand

3 July 1980
Annals of an Abiding Liberal 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Deutsch, 388 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 233 97209 9
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... the social democratic hegemony of the last forty years seems to have been broken. Helmut Schmidt still reigns fairly securely in Bonn and Bruno Kreisky rather more securely in Vienna. Elsewhere, the social democratic lights are dimmed at best. One reason, no doubt, is simply that politicians and intellectuals like novelty as much as anyone ...


Neal Ascherson: On A.J.P. Taylor

2 June 1983
... by Allied typists and then given a spurious attribution to men like Konrad Adenauer and Carlo Schmidt, and it has worked out quite respectably.I have always liked the old phrase about ‘the forging of a nation’. Most young nations carry false birth certificates, either some teleologically-twisted brand of history which proves that Slobodnian ...

Who was he?

Charles Nicholl: Joe the Ripper

7 February 2008
The Fox and the Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath 
by Charles van Onselen.
Cape, 672 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 224 07929 7
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... He was at various times Joe Liss, Joe Eligmann, James Smith, Joseph Schmidt, Charlie Silver, Charles Greenbaum, Abraham Ramer, Ludwig; these are just a few of his ghost-names. Silver had indeed been in New York City in the early 1890s, a low-grade thief, thug, jailbird and police informer. Convicted of stealing a couple of ...


David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise

6 June 2013
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... lined up to replace him included Jim Callaghan, Roy Jenkins, Tony Benn, Anthony Crosland, Michael Foot and Denis Healey. It was, by any historical standards, an impressive cast list. The Parliamentary Labour Party made the right choice in plumping for Callaghan over the initial favourite, Healey, and the surprise early front-runner, Foot. Of all the ...

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