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Giant Goody Goody

Edwin Morgan: Fairytales, 24 May 2001

The Complete Fairytales 
by George MacDonald, edited by U.C. Knoepflmacher.
Penguin, 354 pp., January 2000, 0 14 043737 1
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Ventures into Childland: Victorians, Fairytales and Femininity 
by U.C. Knoepflmacher.
Chicago, 444 pp., £24.50, June 2001, 0 226 44816 9
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... a pea below her twenty mattresses is hurting her. A prince is metamorphosed from a frog (the poet Norman MacCaig used to say it would be even better if a frog metamorphosed from a prince). Wordsworth, feeling he had to deplore the increasingly moralistic instruction of the young, refers in The Prelude to those ‘guards and wardens’ who would ...

Dialect with Army and Navy

David Wheatley: Douglas Dunn and Politovsky, 21 June 2001

The Donkey’s Ears: Politovsky’s Letters Home 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 571 20426 0
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The Year's Afternoon 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 0 571 20427 9
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... an air of premature senescence hangs over The Year’s Afternoon. ‘Three Poets’ elegises Norman MacCaig, Sorley MacLean and George Mackay Brown, a list to which he has added Iain Crichton Smith in the dedication of One Hundred 20th-Century Scottish Poems (2000), a sampler from his earlier Faber anthology. Again the cheering conclusion: ‘Let us ...

Smiles Better

Andrew O’Hagan: Glasgow v. Edinburgh, 23 May 2013

On Glasgow and Edinburgh 
by Robert Crawford.
Harvard, 345 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 674 04888 1
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... love cities the way Frank O’Hara loved New York. Crawford, like his nearest literary forebear Norman MacCaig, loves places both rural and urban: in his work, he can throw his voice ‘deep down the larynx of Glen Esk’, and he can marry Iona, or bring the reader into close contact with his ‘Inner Glasgow’, a place of abolished pit bings and ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... his youth among a generation of thrawn poets with their country expansiveness: I’m thinking of Norman MacCaig in his Assynt mode; Iain Crichton Smith of the Highlands; George Mackay Brown in his Orkney remoteness; and Hugh MacDiarmid, always in among the fields and dykes, metaphysical or real. None of these men gave much quarter, and, next to ...

Sweaney Peregraine

Paul Muldoon, 1 November 1984

Station Island 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 123 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 571 13301 0
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Sweeney Astray: A Version 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 85 pp., £6.95, October 1984, 0 571 13360 6
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Rich 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 109 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 571 13215 4
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... The Martian School, The Metaphor Men. Who are they? Christopher Reid, perhaps? David Sweetman? Norman MacCaig? Philip Larkin? Seamus Heaney, perhaps? Doesn’t Heaney’s description of a lobster – articulated twigs, a rainy stone the colour of sunk munitions – vie with Raine’s scraping its claws like someone crouched to keep wicket at ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... is also the countryman of a number of more recent poets, including Sorley MacLean, W.S. Graham, Norman MacCaig, Edwin Morgan, Douglas Dunn, and the tactician of Little Sparta. Not far from the small cottage near Biggar where MacDiarmid spent his final years, Ian Hamilton Finlay, another courageous, controversial and embattled artist, has set in ...
... speaking the poems in Gaelic. I was lucky to be on the stage of the Abbey Theatre when Sorley and Norman MacCaig came to Dublin to read at the launching of their excellent poetry records: my job was to read some of the translations (this time by Sorley MacLean), but my interest was in hearing the Gaelic. Again, this had the force of revelation: the ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Dylan Thomas, Edwin Morgan, R.S. Thomas, Iain Crichton Smith, Thom Gunn, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig are unassailably part of our consciousness of the poetic landscape. Auden and MacNeice, too, though the omission in both books of Stephen Spender suggests that he has slipped out of contention – either because his true worth has yet to be ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 22 October 2014

... Karl was introduced to the mighty poets of Milne’s Bar and the Abbotsford: Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch, among others. MacIver played some of the part of a father, taking Karl all over town to whatever was happening on stage or on screen. MacCaig was to become a lifelong friend, guide and ...

Social Arrangements

John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... star. But there is a difference. Good poets in the Alvarez anthology, like David Holbrook or Norman MacCaig, have their counterparts in the present collection, but while not being egotistically impetuous and obsessed in the way Alvarez desiderated, they were also not haunted, as their successors appear to be, by wistful feelings about ‘the ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown, 22 February 2007

George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... the Rose Street milieu of 1950s Edinburgh. For a time, Brown mixed there with Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig, Sydney Goodsir Smith and other poets and literati. With its prostitutes and smoky, male-dominated pubs sporting signs which stated ‘Women Not Supplied’, Rose Street was a shithole of gender politics, emblematic in some ways of the ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... Henderson’s was a life of balladry, passionate public argument (his flytings with MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig were particularly memorable), and direct action designed to raise the demoralised Scottish people from their apathy. In 1952 a symbolic coup was achieved by the reiving of the Stone of Destiny, pinched from Westminster and returned to Scotland ...

MacDiarmid’s Sticks

C.H. Sisson, 5 April 1984

Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmid: The Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... of which the charming (c.1850) print of Ballantyne’s Close, Grass-market, over against Norman MacCaig’s poem, ‘Edinburgh Courtyard in July’, may be taken as typical, both in respect of quality and of relevance to the text. Visiting Englishmen are admitted and the locals range from Drummond of Hawthornden to Garioch, ...

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