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England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated ...


John Bayley, 19 January 1989

The Amis Anthology 
edited by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 360 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 09 173525 4
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The Chatto Book of Nonsense Verse 
edited by Hugh Haughton.
Chatto, 530 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 7011 3105 5
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... what it says, however unexpected or incomprehensible this may be. In a note on Betjeman’s ‘Myfanwy’ Amis says the poet has ‘got him where he wants’ with poems in this vein, ‘but I have never been able to work out quite where that is. Nor has anybody else I know of.’ Successful poetry takes its sense for granted, as applying to itself ...

Impossible Conception

T.J. Reed: ‘Death in Venice’, 25 September 2014

Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach 
by Philip Kitcher.
Columbia, 254 pp., £20.50, November 2013, 978 0 02 311626 1
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... The double centenary​ in 2012 of the publication of Kafka’s The Judgment and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice was marked only, to my knowledge, by a single conference, in California. Yet these two stories represented crucial breakthroughs for writers who came to dominate the German literature of the age. Both experienced a creative liberation thanks to forces seemingly beyond the conscious efforts that were getting them nowhere – in old-fashioned terms, thanks to inspiration ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010, 16 December 2010

... childhood. 10 February. Finish with some regret Frances Spalding’s book on the Pipers, John and Myfanwy, the latter figuring in The Habit of Art where she is to some extent disparaged. I’ve always been in two minds about Piper, liking him when I was young with his paintings ‘modern’ but representational enough to be acceptable, a view I trotted out ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... leaps, arriving for instance at Eliot’s thoughts on farming via the pottery of Bernard Leach and Thomas Hennell’s 1939 drawings of discarded scythes and harrows for H.J. Massingham’s Country Relics. These are threaded together by a historian’s fascination with how the past conceived its own past. How did 1930s sensibilities, from John Betjeman to Cecil ...

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