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If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... Joan Hassall, who died in 1988, shows Elizabeth Gaskell arriving at the Brontë parsonage. Patrick Brontë is taking Gaskell’s hand; Charlotte stands between them, arms open in a gesture of introduction. We – the spectators, whose gaze Charlotte seems to acknowledge (or is she looking at her father apprehensively?) – stand in the doorway; the ...


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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... earlier works such as ‘The Terminal Beach’ and the novella Concrete Island, is the latter-day Robinson Crusoe, a voluntary castaway or recluse who is also an incipient megalomaniac. One of the protagonists in War Fever sets out to pare away the elements of bourgeois life by the simple expedient of never again leaving his suburban house. After he has ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gardens, 8 July 2004

... been available in print from the time of the great 18th-century landscape gardeners and on through Robinson and Jekyll right up to Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto. The highest achievement in gardening, even when plots are small, has always been seen as the creation of a picture. Gardens in which plants are grown for food, medicine or animal feed have their ...
An Awfully Big Adventure 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 193 pp., £10.95, December 1989, 0 7156 2204 8
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The Thirteen-Gun Salute 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins, 319 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 00 223460 2
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Family Sins, and Other Stories 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 251 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 370 31374 7
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... then died raggedly away, replaced by a tumult of weeping. W.C. Fields would be proud of her. Patrick O’Brian’s 13th story about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin – appropriately called The Thirteen-Gun Salute – is as entertaining as its predecessors. O’Brian is a master of the narrative of action, but he has sustained interest through this long ...

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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... anthology, A Various Art. Nor, at the other end of the spectrum, will we find poets such as Peter Robinson, Robert Wells or Clive Wilmer, or the Carcanet poets from the days when PN Review was called Poetry Nation. Denise Riley, Roy Fisher and Christopher Middleton are about all we have by way of a British avant-garde, a term which is usually taken to ...

The Sacred Cause of Idiom

Frank Kermode: Lady Gregory, 22 January 2004

Lady Gregory's Toothbrush 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 127 pp., £7.99, September 2003, 0 330 41993 5
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... read in full in two large volumes of her collected works; formerly there was a selection by Lennox Robinson, a book as irritating as Robinson was himself reputed to be. He decided to carve the journals into sections – ‘Coole’, ‘The Abbey Theatre’, ‘Politics’, ‘The Lane Pictures’, ‘Odds and Ends’. One is ...


Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... government’s suspicion that none of the Unionists could be trusted. Even now, Godson says, Patrick Mayhew, Northern Ireland secretary at the time, describes Trimble’s performance at Drumcree as ‘undoubtedly triumphalist’. He aroused great hostility in nationalist Ireland and among what Godson calls ‘mainland progressive opinion’, which helped ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... was sometimes said, was always in the pub but never really of it. Much the same could be said of Patrick Hamilton, who was best known in his lifetime for his stage chillers Rope (1929) and Gaslight (1938), but is mostly remembered for the expert depictions of joyless interwar boozing in Hangover Square (1941) and the trilogy Twenty Thousand Streets under the ...

Toolkit for Tinkerers

Colin Burrow: The Sonnet, 24 June 2010

The Art of the Sonnet 
by Stephanie Burt and David Mikics.
Harvard, 451 pp., £25.95, May 2010, 978 0 674 04814 0
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... should be nervous, and, where the subject will with propriety bear elevation, sublime.’ Mary Robinson (described by Coleridge as ‘a woman of undoubted genius’, but perhaps too full of dim memories of Gray and Milton quite to deserve that praise) duly described the moon as ‘sublimely still, and beautifully pale!’ In ‘On Bamborough ...

Raiding Joyce

Denis Donoghue, 18 April 1985

James Joyce 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £20, November 1984, 9780521240147
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James Joyce and Sexuality 
by Richard Brown.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £19.50, March 1985, 0 521 24811 6
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Joyce’s Dislocutions: Essays on Reading as Translation 
by Fritz Senn, edited by John Paul Riquelme.
Johns Hopkins, 225 pp., £22.20, December 1984, 0 8018 3135 0
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Post-Structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French 
edited by Derek Attridge and Daniel Ferrer.
Cambridge, 162 pp., £20, January 1985, 9780521266369
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... patient, it holds out against every effort of good will. Nothing Joyce said about it is much help. Patrick Parrinder’s book is a fairly straightforward introduction to Joyce, based on two congenially related emphases. The first is that Joyce’s work as a whole, and Ulysses in particular, feature ‘a poetics of the body’. In a letter of 1921, Joyce told ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... first published in 1902, or the more recent The Lake District (1970) by Roy Millward and Adrian Robinson, a book that is perfect of its kind. But what I am asking for is a sense of first-hand experience, which is desirable especially when the subject is our experience as physical beings contriving to live in a physical world. Thompson is a devoted walker ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover, 22 February 2001

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... Tobacco to establish a Chair of International Relations named after BAT’s former chairman, Sir Patrick Sheehy. Though he is chiefly concerned with Britain, Monbiot sees what is happening here in a wider context, recognising that international ‘trade agreements have become the greatest threats to representative government.’ He describes how groups of ...

Hedonistic Fruit Bombs

Steven Shapin: How good is Château Pavie?, 3 February 2005

by Robert Parker.
Dorling Kindersley, 1244 pp., £45, December 2003, 1 4053 0566 5
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The Wine Buyer’s Guide 
by Robert Parker and Pierre-Antoine Rovani.
Dorling Kindersley, two volumes, £50, December 2002, 0 7513 4979 8
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directed by Jonathan Nossiter.
November 2004
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... others – sceptical of such fine and confident discriminations – have tried to hold out. Jancis Robinson won’t budge from the traditional 20-point scale, resisting the notion of a single standard of taste: ‘There’s no suggestion that Parker’s not being consistent, and following his taste. This is the whole point of wine – that there are different ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... to the 12th. The first chapter is an account of the historical background, written with panache by Patrick Wormald; the second an equally readable summary by Helmut Gneuss of the Old English language. ‘Beowulf’, the earliest epic poem in the English language, has a chapter to itself. Old English poetic metre and technique, the tenth-century refinement of ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... on a loop. Incidentally, a worn pair of slippers also features in another chapter – they quote Patrick Leigh Fermor’s account of tracking down the yellow baboosh that are said to have been Byron’s. The clincher: one of them bears the impress of a misshapen foot. And what to make of the ‘painstakingly assembled reconstruction’ of Dylan Thomas’s ...

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