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Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... simplicity itself as a disguise. What the wind blows away The wind blows back again is how Norman Nicholson ends a poem in his new collection, Sea to the West. The lines are perhaps low on witty morality, but their power is the greater for that: coming at the end of a description of weather over Black Combe (a recurrent point de repère of the ...


Donald Davie, 11 June 1992

In the Circumstances: About Poems and Poets 
by Peter Robinson.
Oxford, 260 pp., £35, May 1992, 0 19 811248 3
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... But if we look for Wordsworth as a live presence in the poetry of this century, we come up with Norman Nicholson and Basil Bunting, and who else? In a tight spot Wall-ace Stevens appealed to the famous line from ‘Michael’, ‘And never lifted up a single stone’ (drawing from it unwarrantable inferences, as Robinson points out): but Stevens’s ...

Eternal Feminine

Ian Gregson, 7 January 1993

by Mark Ford.
Chatto, 51 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3750 9
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The English Earthquake 
by Eva Salzman.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 1 85224 177 2
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Bleeding Heart Yard 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 871471 28 1
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The Game: Tennis Poems 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 48 pp., £6, June 1992, 1 871471 27 3
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Marconi’s Cottage 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Bloodaxe, 110 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 85224 197 7
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... post a statement to the nation’. So, too, the closing image of ‘Inventions’, an elegy for Norman Nicholson, refers to June grass as ‘yellowish’: ‘that shade old Faber covers/fade to, when a book was a real book’. That last phrase works like ‘fancy name’: ‘real’ looks crudely reactionary at first, but in the context of grass and ...

Land of Pure Delight

Dinah Birch: Anglicising the Holy Land, 20 April 2006

The Holy Land in English Culture 1799-1917: Palestine and the Question of Orientalism 
by Eitan Bar-Yosef.
Oxford, 319 pp., £50, October 2005, 0 19 926116 4
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... lingered stubbornly within Protestant artisan culture. Recalling his 1920s Cumbrian childhood, Norman Nicholson, a tailor’s son and a Methodist, put it more eloquently than most: We all belonged to the same country. And that country was the Holy Land. The landscape of the Bible was far more familiar to us than the geography of England. We had news ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... of and notes on Dante. He also had an influence on Sidney Keyes, Vernon Watkins, Anne Ridler and Norman Nicholson, and on the undergraduate Philip Larkin, who admired his lecturer’s novels. Victor Gollancz and L.H. Myers, both given to occult speculations, were fans of the thrillers; Dylan Thomas attended his lectures. There was a harried quality ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie, 22 March 2001

Spirit of an Age: Paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie 
National Gallery, 192 pp., £19.95, March 2001, 1 85709 960 5Show More
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... of things-as-they-are in work by artists as different as Constable, Lord Leighton and William Nicholson – all of it showing painters enjoying the tools of their trade. Menzel was modern in the sense that the notes he made on the world as he saw it do not pass through the prism of style. Degas admired him as he admired Charles Keene, and one would guess ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J. Michael Lennon’s ‘double life’ of Norman Mailer and offer that doubleness back as subjective criticism. Mailer, after all, gave us the non-fiction novel, Lennon gives us the pseudo-objective biography, so why can’t I offer the confessional review? On the afternoon of 10 April 2007 I was on a ...

Feigning a Relish

Nicholas Penny: One Tate or Two, 15 October 1998

The Tate: A History 
by Frances Spalding.
Tate Gallery, 308 pp., £25, April 1998, 1 85437 231 9
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... than ignoring, say, Matisse from among many other foreign contenders for their attention. With Norman Reid, who became director in 1964, priorities were decisively reversed. The transitional figure is John Rothenstein, director from 1938 to 1964. Spalding does full justice to his complex personality and mixed achievement. The thrilling episode when he ...


Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... on the gossamer constructions of current art theory? You get ringing in your ears when you read Norman Bryson, and fear you have caught Ménière’s disease off the page? Do not despair. There is a remedy. The second posthumous volume of Edgar Wind’s essays outdoes even its sumptuous predecessor in intellectual glitter and academic burnishing. Only 120 ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... the free-market excesses that were to follow. Punk auditioned the dark night of Keith Joseph and Norman Tebbit. It turns out that none of the punk parasites much liked the sounds or the bands who produced them. They were career anarchists, varnishing their leather armour while they waited for an offer from the Daily Mail. Essentially, NME ‘new ...


James Wolcott: Updike should stay at home, 1 January 2009

The Widows of Eastwick 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2008, 978 0 241 14427 5
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... life was other than a negative-positive mosquito buzzing in the ear of a total vacuum.’ Where Norman Mailer set out to bend the future with his telepathic powers and the Beats sought to hot-wire the American psyche (at the risk of frying their own circuits), Updike wrote as if he were doing fine draftsmanship under a cone of light, honouring creation and ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... on a particular language – varieties of Gaelic, of course, but also Latin writing in Ireland and Norman-French texts; and there are sections devoted to major authors such as Yeats and Joyce and to major historical events such as the Famine. Each section begins with a substantial critical introduction by the responsible contributing editor and ends with brief ...


Julian Loose, 11 May 1995

The Information 
by Martin Amis.
Flamingo, 494 pp., £15.99, March 1995, 0 00 225356 9
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... is a study of envy and egomania that happens to play itself out in the world of publishing. Nicholson Baker in U and I probed the devastating realisation that Updike ‘writes better than I do and is smarter than I am’. Here, though, there is no sense of one writer warding off another’s potentially crushing influence, or of the fragile ...
... Heald(Now)Thomas Hinde(Sunday Telegraph)Bernard Levin(Sunday Times)Blake Morrison(TLS)John Nicholson(Times)Richard Rayner(Time Out)Anthony Thwaite(Observer)MiddlingPaul Ableman(Spectator)Peter Conrad(Harpers & Queen)Alan Hollinghurst(New Statesman)Christopher Wordsworth(Guardian)UnfavourablePaul Ableman(Spectator)Robert Cottrell(Financial Times)Martyn ...

But You Married Him

Rosemary Hill: Princess Margaret and Lady Anne, 4 June 2020

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown 
by Anne Glenconner.
Hodder, 336 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 1 5293 5906 0
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... Princess Margaret met Lucian Freud and Ian Fleming; Tennant’s previous girlfriend, Ivy Nicholson, became part of Andy Warhol’s Factory, and Jeanne Campbell, the daughter of the 11th duke of Argyll, went on to have an affair with Fidel Castro. Anne and Colin got engaged. Her father was annoyed because he wanted her to marry one of his old comrades ...

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