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Taking stock of woods

Douglas Oliver, 17 December 1992

... shades, something in sliding of flow-speed under fragmented stirring. In front, then, these near woods; behind, the hilly woods and green freckles on the blue simple sky. Wilderness valley grazed as by sheep by tree tops. Seeing holds lazily in union, or the eye keeps particularising: across stream, a green infanta ...

Cross Words

Neal Ascherson, 17 November 1983

The Story of the ‘Times’ 
by Oliver Woods and James Bishop.
Joseph, 392 pp., £14.95, October 1983, 0 7181 1462 0
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Good Times, Bad Times 
by Harold Evans.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £11.95, October 1983, 0 297 78295 9
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... much redder than the other, and contemplates his next meal. The quotations are from the Woods and Bishop Story of the ‘Times’, which, though commissioned by Sir Denis Hamilton, is not an ‘official’ history. With such an apologia for the status quo, who needs one? And, in a way, one sees what they mean. As an organism, a collective ...

Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow, 29 November 2007

Woodlands 
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... Oliver Rackham’s Woodlands is Volume 100 of the New Naturalist series, started by Collins after the Second World War with the aim of making ecology accessible to the increasing numbers of people who visited the countryside and had a serious curiosity about what it contained. It included such early classics as R ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... them. It is easy to argue about the uncertain Irishness of certain writers. Was Sterne Irish? Was Oliver Goldsmith Irish? Was Robert Tressell Irish? Is Iris Murdoch Irish? But the argument about who was gay and who was not and how we know is more difficult. How can someone be gay if, as in the case of Gogol, there is no direct evidence? Yet if you trawl ...

Juliet

D.J. Enright, 18 September 1980

Flaubert and an English Governess 
by Hermia Oliver.
Oxford, 212 pp., £9.50, June 1980, 0 19 815764 9
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The Letters of Gustave Flaubert 1830-1857 
edited and translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Harvard, 270 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 674 52636 8
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... acquaintanceship is in dispute. The most tender of Flaubert’s affairs? Or a non-affair? Hermia Oliver believes that Juliet was ‘almost certainly’ Flaubert’s mistress: but the present book, a record of indefatigable research and meagre revelations, is stuffed with ‘probably’s’, ‘may’s’, ‘if’s’ and ‘just possible’s’, a case of ...

Rethinking the countryside

David Allen, 22 January 1987

The History of the Countryside 
by Oliver Rackham.
Dent, 445 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 460 04449 4
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Gilbert White: A Biography of the Author of the ‘Natural History of Selborne’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Century, 239 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7126 1232 7
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The Journals of Gilbert White 1751-1773: Vol. 1 
edited by Francesca Greenoak.
Century, 531 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7126 1294 7
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An Account of the Foxglove and its Medical Uses 1785-1985 
by J.K. Aronson.
Oxford, 399 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 19 261501 7
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The Oxford Dictionary of Natural History 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Oxford, 688 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 19 217720 6
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... to overtake all of these in practical effectiveness, however, is the remarkable figure of Oliver Rackham, a throwback to earlier centuries in his solitary, single-minded endeavours made at the expense of an orthodox – and secure – career. Rackham’s achievement has been the more impressive in that he is a physicist by background and his ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone, 18 March 2004

Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... hard-to-define politics, and a tendency for characters to run amok with AK47s. But he’s not Oliver Stone: he has it in for Oliver Stone. Nor – despite his beard, his tan, his Key West holiday home – is he Hemingway Reloaded. He has written literary novels about things that many literary writers have long since ...

Lady Chatterley’s Sneakers

David Trotter, 30 August 2012

... than the most famous gamekeeper in English literature, but his jeremiad descends directly from Oliver Mellors’s explanation of why Constance Chatterley is the woman for him. The great thing about her, he says, is that she isn’t ‘all tough rubber-goods-and-platinum, like the modern girl’. She has a tenderness which has ‘gone out’ of the ...

Get planting

Peter Campbell: Why Trees Matter, 1 December 2005

The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter 
by Colin Tudge.
Allen Lane, 452 pp., £20, November 2005, 0 7139 9698 6
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... lopped branches would have been a resource. In Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape (1976), Oliver Rackham makes a distinction between wood and timber. Wood, the renewable crop, the source of staves, bean poles, hurdles, fodder and firewood, is what was coppiced from the same stools or pruned from the same trunks and branches over many years, in some ...

Kleptocracy

Vadim Nikitin, 21 February 2019

Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back 
by Oliver Bullough.
Profile, 304 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 78125 792 0
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Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future 
by Louise Shelley.
Princeton, 376 pp., £24, October 2018, 978 0 691 17018 3
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... probably seemed an excellent investment at the time. Such schemes comprise what the journalist Oliver Bullough calls kleptocracy. Moneyland, his impassioned but at times specious book, depicts the universe inhabited by global money launderers and calls out the Western bankers, lawyers, property brokers and politicians who profit from it. Kleptocracy works ...

Time of the Red-Man

Mark Ford: James Fenimore Cooper, 25 September 2008

James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years 
by Wayne Franklin.
Yale, 708 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 0 300 10805 7
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... insistent cry, and he observes the pioneers’ ‘wasty ways’, their destruction of the woods, their slaughter of migrating passenger pigeons, their over-fishing of the lake, with an ever increasing sense of displacement and dispossession. He even suffers the indignity of standing trial for killing a buck out of season, and, after resisting a search ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... evident, too, in the beautifully produced, unostentatious separate recent collections by Douglas Oliver and Anthony Barnett,* contributors to the Carcanet volume. ‘America’ is one acknowledged influence on these poets, though ‘America’ turns out to mean chiefly Ashbery, Olson and Pound. That there are other traditions to look to these days is clear ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... replies: you should read some memoirs. A pity, because his history begins in the days when Sammy Woods could reside as a member of his college for 12 terms, playing rugger and cricket for Cambridge, while failing monotonously to pass the university entrance exam. Edwardian etiquette decreed that if you called on a fellow undergraduate and he was out, you ...

You Dying Nations

Jeremy Adler: Georg Trakl, 17 April 2003

Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... He left behind a poem that expresses the suffering he had witnessed: At evening the autumn woods resound With deadly weapons, the golden plains And blue lakes, the sun overhead Rolls more darkly on; night embraces Dying warriors, the wild lament Of their broken mouths. Yet silently red clouds, in which a wrathful god lives, Gather on willow-ground The ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: Ash Dieback, 6 December 2012

... it’s only recently that we’ve paid attention to the common ash at all. In Ancient Woodland, Oliver Rackham drew up a table, under the heading ‘The Notice Which People Take of Trees’, and mapped ‘the percentage frequency with which tree species are mentioned’ in two Anglo-Saxon charters, a comprehensive list of British place names, the works of ...

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