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Glooms

E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... a dodgy stockbroker? Yes, it was the man in the runcible hat, Edward Lear. His latest biographer, Peter Levi, confides to us that, like Lear’s mother, his own grandmother also had 21 children. Easily lured into digression, Levi adds that ‘it is not uncommon in such families that by some mysterious compensation of ...

Young Marvin

Frank Kermode, 24 January 1991

A Tenured Professor 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 197 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 1 85619 018 8
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Shade those laurels 
by Cyril Connolly and Peter Levi.
Bellew, 174 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 0 947792 37 6
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... inheritance from Petronius Arbiter, Peacock and Aldous Huxley, with a soupçon of Firbank. Peter Levi, who was a friend of Connolly’s and married his widow, has brought the tale to an ending, making his task possible by briskly disposing of all the clues Connolly himself had perhaps despaired of explaining in the last section. ‘I do not ...

On the horse Parsnip

John Bayley, 8 February 1990

Boris Pasternak: The Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... a quotation from one of them, is if anything worse.) After this, it is a relief to learn from Peter Levi’s lively and delightful biography that Dr Zhivago (Dr Alive) was a name Pasternak had seen on the cover of a Moscow manhole, rather as Dickens claimed to have spotted a Copperfield and a Chuzzlewit on the signs of poor London shops. Quite apart ...

Risks

Tom Paulin, 1 August 1985

On the Contrary 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by Ewald Osers.
Bloodaxe, 126 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 906427 75 4
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The Lamentation of the Dead 
by Peter Levi.
Anvil, 40 pp., £2.95, October 1984, 0 85646 140 7
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Levi.
Anvil, 255 pp., £12, November 1984, 0 85646 134 2
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Elegies 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.50, March 1985, 0 571 13570 6
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Poems: 1963-1983 
by Michael Longley.
Salamander, 206 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 904011 77 1
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Making for the Open: The Chatto Book of Post-Feminist Poetry 
edited by Carol Rumens.
Chatto, 151 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 7011 2848 8
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Direct Dialling 
by Carol Rumens.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 7011 2911 5
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The Man Named East 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 137 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 7102 0014 5
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... sings with an oblique and cutting candour, a tubular coolness we must praise and praise again. Peter Levi, alas, is one of those dwindling, disinterested Arnoldians who can still be uncovered in the home of lost causes. Last year he became Professor of Poetry at Oxford and in his inaugural lecture announced: ‘Today is the feast of Crispinus and ...

Mad John

Gabriele Annan, 28 June 1990

McEnroe: Taming the Talent 
by Richard Evans.
Bloomsbury, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 7475 0618 3
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... Evans compares McEnroe to Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, with quotations from Shakespeare and from Peter Levi on Shakespeare. He uses adjectives like ‘pavonine’, and describes McEnroe’s style as pointilliste – rather a good idea, except that it leads to an analysis of pointillism: ‘tiny jabs of colour executed with the deft touch of a true ...

Hellenic Tours

Jonathan Barnes, 1 August 1985

The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. Vol. I: Greek Literature 
edited by P.E. Easterling and B.M.W. Knox.
Cambridge, 936 pp., £47.50, May 1985, 0 521 21042 9
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A History of Greek Literature 
by Peter Levi.
Viking, 511 pp., £14.95, February 1985, 0 670 80100 3
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... and assessment, and they are generously illustrated with quotations, many of them in Greek. Peter Levi’s history purposes to give ‘a short lucid description in easy, continuous prose of most of ancient Greek literature’. The description is again accompanied by critical reflections and illustrated by frequent quotations (all in English ...

Ripping Yarns

John Sutherland, 8 April 1993

Tennyson 
by Michael Thorn.
Little, Brown, 566 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90299 3
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Tennyson 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 370 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 333 52205 2
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... admit that, while telling a good story, his biography offers little close reading of the poems. Peter Levi’s Tennyson is particularly strong in this department; ‘Poetry is what makes him mysterious,’ he tells us. Levi’s long first section, ‘The Birth of the Poet’, is an illuminating investigation of ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... in The Art of Edward Thomas open out the issues, but a whiff of poet’s corner lingers on. Pace Peter Levi, it is not quite enough to celebrate Thomas as ‘certainly genuine, authentic, a true poet’. Under Storm’s Wing is a welcome reprint of Helen Thomas’s As it was and World without End, first published in 1926 and 1931. It also contains a ...

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 like Rupert Brooke!’; he ...

New Looks, New Newspapers

Peter Campbell, 2 June 1988

The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 
by Jon Wozencroft.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 500 27496 7
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The Making of the ‘Independent’ 
by Michael Crozier.
Gordon Fraser, 128 pp., £8.95, May 1988, 0 86092 107 7
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... that one of the first issues the paper has chosen to take a stand on is the wretched case made by Peter Levi for the wretched poems which the paper went with him in attributing to Shakespeare. Those I know who have become regular readers praise its journalistic craftsmanship in much the same terms as I would praise its design: it makes useful information ...

Rosa with Mimi

Edward Timms, 4 June 1987

Rosa Luxemburg: A Life 
by Elzbieta Ettinger.
Harrap, 286 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 245 54539 5
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... the son of her SPD colleague Clara Zetkin, an idealistic young man 15 years her junior; with Peter Levi, her defence counsel in a spectacular political trial – they had a brief and intense affair in 1914; and Hans Diefenbach, the doctor with whom she conducted her ‘last romantic affair’ in her letters from prison. Newly discovered letters ...
Criticism in the University 
edited by Gerald Graff and Reginald Gibbons.
Northwestern, 234 pp., £29.95, September 1985, 0 8101 0670 1
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... of academic life in general, but one can guess at more particular reasons. Not long ago Sir Peter Medawar remarked that when the momentous DNA discoveries were being made there were plenty of people in the English faculties of universities quite as clever as Crick and Watson – but Crick and Watson had something to be clever about. For the last thirty ...

Chemical Common Sense

Miroslav Holub, 4 July 1996

The Same and Not the Same 
by Roald Hoffmann.
Columbia, 294 pp., $34.95, September 1995, 0 231 10138 4
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... as in the immense, neo-Darwinian undertaking of Stephen Jay Gould, the books of Lewis Wolpert, Peter Medawar’s essays, the psychiatric narratives of Oliver Sacks or the clinical deliberations of Sherwin Nuland; and finally the heroic attempts to describe a single discipline, including its technical details and particular kind of reasoning. For inclusion ...

Love among the Cheeses

Lidija Haas: Life with Amis and Ayer, 8 September 2011

The House in France: A Memoir 
by Gully Wells.
Bloomsbury, 307 pp., £16.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 0809 2
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... Weidenfeld’s publicity director – more parties, more delicious food to catalogue. She marries Peter, who has ‘the most seductive voice on earth’ (everyone turns out to be the most, the best at everything). They move to New York and struggle to conceive until, ‘barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen – I had finally been allowed into ...

At Auckland Castle

Nicola Jennings: Francisco de Zurbarán, 4 June 2020

... related in Genesis 49, of Jacob’s prophecies for Benjamin and his brothers, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali and Joseph. Zurbarán portrayed them in an array of fantastical costumes including animal skins, striped dungarees, turbans and brocades. Each son is identified at the bottom corner of a painting by a ...

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