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Solid Advice

Michael Wilding, 8 May 1986

A Fortunate Life 
by A.B. Facey.
Viking, 331 pp., £10.95, February 1986, 0 670 80707 9
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... After the brief boom of the 1880s Australia experienced the slump of the 1890s. The attempts by the unions to secure better conditions and a closed shop were crushingly defeated in the maritime and shearers’ strikes of the early 1890s. A combination of blackleg labour, protected by police and armed troops, and of successful prosecutions for conspiracy against the unions, broke the newly-emergent labour organisations ...

The Slap

Michael Wilding, 17 April 1986

The Image, and Other Stories 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Cape, 310 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 224 02357 8
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... There is no doubt about the achievement of Isaac Bashevis Singer. He is one of the foremost storytellers of our time. His output has been prolific and now, in his 82nd year, comes a collection of a further 22 stories. Gathered from twenty years of magazine publication, translated from the Yiddish sometimes by the author himself, sometimes by or in collaboration with others, they nonetheless have a consistency of tone ...

Coy Mistress Uncovered

David Norbrook, 19 May 1988

Dragons Teeth: Literature in the English Revolution 
by Michael Wilding.
Oxford, 288 pp., £25, September 1987, 0 19 812881 9
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Apocalyptic Marvell: The Second Coming in 17th-Century Poetry 
by Margarita Stocker.
Harvester, 381 pp., £32.50, February 1986, 0 7108 0934 4
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The Politics of Mirth: Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, and the Defence of Old Holiday Pastimes 
by Leah Marcus.
Chicago, 319 pp., £23.25, March 1987, 0 226 50451 4
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Milton: A Study in Ideology and Form 
by Christopher Kendrick.
Methuen, 240 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 416 01251 5
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... wit when it is devoted to the repression, rather than the defence, of religious dissent. As Michael Wilding points out in Dragons Teeth, changes made by Sir Thomas Browne to Religio Medici in the political crisis of 1642-3 reveal the famously ambiguous wit of that text as defensively conservative. The critical climate is now changing. The books ...


Patrick Parrinder, 6 December 1990

by Jose Donoso, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Picador, 310 pp., £13.95, October 1990, 0 330 31157 3
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War Fever 
by J.G. Ballard.
Collins, 176 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 0 00 223770 9
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Great Climate 
by Michael Wilding.
Faber, 147 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14428 4
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Honour Thy Father 
by Lesley Glaister.
Secker, 182 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 9780436199981
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... unified collection, which will be compulsory reading for Ballard’s many admirers. Great Climate, Michael Wilding’s collection of stories written in the last two decades, has a much more haphazard air. In several pieces, Wilding, a British-born writer teaching at the University of Sydney, develops the Science Fiction ...

Hard Labour

Frank Kermode: Marvell beneath the Notes, 23 October 2003

The Poems of Andrew Marvell 
edited by Nigel Smith.
Longman, 468 pp., £50, January 2003, 0 582 07770 2
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... explained in a battery of notes. The most interesting of these comes from the Australian critic Michael Wilding, a distinguished exponent of Marvell, who eliminates some earlier commentary by pointing out that the apples in ll. 23-40 were certainly not pineapples, for pineapples don’t grow on trees. The poem has 40 lines, maybe three hundred ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... Taylors one (actress), two (novelist) and three (friend of Gladys Calthrop). Wilde, Wilder and Wilding mark the beginning of the end; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor make 22 appearances: and in a trickle of Zanucks, Zinkeisens and Zolotows, the torrent ends. It must be one of the most astonishing cast-lists ever appended to a diary. For readers with the ...


John Lanchester, 21 October 1993

United States 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 1298 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 233 98832 7
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What Henry James Knew, and Other Essays on Writers 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Cape, 363 pp., £12.99, June 1993, 0 224 03329 8
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Sentimental Journeys 
by Joan Didion.
HarperCollins, 319 pp., £15, January 1993, 0 00 255146 2
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... the Presidential election of 1988. The piece takes as its central image a corny airport ritual in Michael Dukakis’s campaign, when he would throw a baseball back and forth with his aides. ‘What we had in the tarmac arrival with ball tossing, then, was an understanding: a repeated moment witnessed by many people, all of whom believed it to be a set-up and ...

America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... segregation. In 1989 five black and Latino teenagers, described by the police as a pack of ‘wilding’ youths, were wrongfully convicted of the assault and rape of a white female jogger in Central Park. Donald Trump took out advertisements in four New York City newspapers calling for the death penalty to be reinstated in New York; although the men were ...

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