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Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paisley – who helped maintain the minority Labour government in power was fair game. Thanks to Peter Wright’s revelations we are more or less familiar with what went on in this period, though it is important to say that Wallace was the first to make public admission of these campaigns, well before Wright. Homosexual smears were directed against Edward ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... The belief underlies his veneration for the great ‘talking heads’ like Lord Clark and Robert Hughes, as in a more general way it underlies his love affair with British TV ‘culture’ when it is not merely mausoleum-like. Clearly James’s feeling for British culture is that of the outsider who can dissimulate an insider’s manner, but who will never ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... of Clive James.* When, at one of the actual Festival’s talk-ins, I said that it was odd to find Peter Porter missing from various standard anthologies of Australian verse, I was given the clear impression that P.P. had simply got what he deserved. Among poets there was much talk of an ‘Australian identity’; one way of asserting this identity was to be ...

Snap Me

Peter Howarth: ‘A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry’, 6 October 2016

Poetic Artifice: A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry 
by Veronica Forrest-Thomson, edited by Gareth Farmer.
Shearsman, 238 pp., £16.95, April 2016, 978 1 84861 445 1
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... critics who think the poem is a straightforward confession of her desire to avenge herself on Ted Hughes. ‘Why she should have bothered to write poems if this was what she wanted to say is of course not explained,’ Forrest-Thomson remarks tartly. ‘It is taken to be enough that she was a poet.’ What Plath is really doing, she explains, is writing a ...

Good New Idea

John Lanchester: Universal Basic Income, 18 July 2019

... Graeber in Bullshit Jobs, Paul Mason in Post-Capitalism, Rutger Breman in Utopia for Realists, and Peter Barnes in With Liberty and Dividends for All. UBI is definitely having a moment.Guy Standing is a long-standing member of BIEN, the Basic Income Earth Network, which, since its founding in 1986 in Louvain, has been the main body studying and advocating for ...

Just like Rupert Brooke

Tessa Hadley: 1960s Oxford, 5 April 2012

The Horseman’s Word: A Memoir 
by Roger Garfitt.
Cape, 378 pp., £18.99, April 2011, 978 0 224 08986 9
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... spilled over naturally into writing it: Garfitt went to informal workshops with John Wain and Peter Levi, heard Ted Hughes read at the Poetry Society. Coghill read his poems, but wasn’t very enthusiastic; Peter Jay took a photo of him in a green silk smoking jacket looking ‘just ...

White Lies

James Campbell: Nella Larsen, 5 October 2006

In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Colour Line 
by George Hutchinson.
Harvard, 611 pp., £25.95, June 2006, 0 674 02180 0
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... and riddles. Her mother, Marie Hansen, had immigrated to the US in the 1880s, and her father, Peter Walker, whom she never knew, was born in the Danish West Indies (after 1917, the US-controlled Virgin Islands). The little that is known about him suggests that he was half-Danish. By any logical account, Nella Larsen was a Danish American. After the death ...

The Right to Murder

Gaby Wood: ‘In a Lonely Place’, 22 March 2018

In a Lonely Place 
by Dorothy B. Hughes.
NYRB, 224 pp., $14.95, August 2017, 978 1 68137 147 4
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In a Lonely Place 
directed by Nicholas Ray.
Criterion Collection, £14.99
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... and immortal. The book on which the film is based – a noir novel written in 1947 by Dorothy B. Hughes – is told from the point of view of a serial strangler named Dixon Steele. We know from the outset that he is guilty; what we don’t know is whether he’ll be caught, and, if he is, how many women he will have killed in the meantime. ...

Jihad

James Wood, 5 August 1993

The New Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... 55 poets, you feel, blush for it. Mostly they contradict it. The style of interesting poets like Peter Didsbury, John Ash, Pauline Stainer and one of the editors, Michael Hulse, is not particularly ‘democratic’, but playfully enigmatic and donnish. There is a tendency to think aloud with a somewhat creaky jauntiness, as if the poets were sharing secrets ...

Diary

Nick Laird: Ulster Revisited, 28 July 2011

... loyalist terrorists, one of the workers, Walter Chapman, whispered to the sole Catholic, Richard Hughes, that he should stay silent. But one of the gunmen recognised Hughes and ordered him to ‘clear off down the road’. He did so and the gunmen opened fire, with armalites, SLRs, a 9mm pistol and an M1 carbine, on the ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... Peter Redgrove had a secret. It was called ‘the Game’. Sexual in nature, this obsessive ritual ignited some of his most arresting poetry, and was vital to his personal mythology for sixty years. Known only to his lovers and a few in his inner circle, the Game has now been made public in Neil Roberts’s remarkable biography of the poet, published almost a decade after Redgrove’s death, along with a new Collected Poems ...

The Best

Tom Shippey, 22 February 1996

Alfred the Great 
by David Sturdy.
Constable, 268 pp., £18.95, November 1995, 0 09 474280 4
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King Alfred the Great 
by Alfred Smyth.
Oxford, 744 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 19 822989 5
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... historians vied with each other to compose panegyrics to him. The biography written by Thomas Hughes, the author of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, said that Alfred disproved once and for all the thesis that Christianity was ‘no faith for fighters’: while the Vikings at Ashdown passed the night before the battle singing the ‘Death-Song of Ragnar ...

Pooka

Frank Kermode, 16 October 1997

Jack Maggs 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 328 pp., £15.99, September 1997, 9780571190881
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... darker and less furiously though still adequately inventive. Its economy may shock some folk, for Peter Carey is known to be an exuberant novelist, copious, various and fantastic. It is possible to admire his books for their lack of respect for boundaries, for the qualities they share with the work of modern Latin American novelists. However, they are always ...

Cut-Ups

Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... Till recently, I’ve dodged most of Peter Reading’s work. He seemed so much the darling of the TLS and of a metropolitan circle whose powerfully disseminated views it is often essential to evade in the interests of finding a position which affords a degree of independence. Seeing stray poems by him in magazines, I thought of him as having a gift of designer outrage, whose appeal to the sophisticated might be suspect ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... 1962, after she’d torn the phoneline out of the wall during an argument with her husband, Ted Hughes, and he had left her and their two infant children in Devon, there were only letters. ‘I am fine,’ she wrote to her mother in America. ‘Just need a settled nanny & to rest & write & letters. I love & live for letters.’ Sylvia Plath and Frieda ...

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