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Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: What on earth should I talk about?

4 March 1982
... of ‘containment’ and with it the Cold War some thirty years ago. If George Kennan has been converted to nuclear disarmament, perhaps something good is astir in the world after all. The death of PeterOpie on 5 February should not pass without commemoration. He and his wife Iona were our leading authorities on nursery rhymes and nursery lore. The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book † which they assembled ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan

16 February 1984
The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter​ Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... involution, young poets are in some danger of neglecting an essential resource of the Story. Certainly, to read a collection like The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, newly-edited by Iona and PeterOpie, is to be reminded of the powerful appeal that’s made in poetry by ‘the kind of story in which, you want to know what happens next’. The Opies’ choice is often cautious and occasionally ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter​ Campbell: Painting the Century

16 November 2000
... would give a good idea in advance of what kind of picture a portrait would be, was dominant. Not, anyway, after the early 1900s when an easy handling of pose and paint which goes back at least to Opie was still keeping fashionable portraitists in rather good bread and butter. Diana of the Uplands, Furze’s portrait of his wife with greyhounds from 1903, Sargent’s portrait of Sir Frank ...

Leaving it alone

R.G. Opie

21 April 1983
Britain can work 
by Ian Gilmour.
Martin Robertson, 272 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 85520 571 7
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The Use of Public Power 
by Andrew Shonfield, edited by Zuzanna Shonfield.
Oxford, 140 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 215357 9
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... misguided and ill-founded policy, and he as a victim of his views about it. Perhaps his views might not have mattered so much – even in Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet there are some unbelievers, Peter Walker is an honourable example – but his style must have been insufferable. It is not only wickedly witty – better, perhaps, even than Galbraith. From a background of Eton, Balliol, the Guards ...

Royals in Oils

Peter​ Campbell

13 November 1997
The Sweetness of Life: A Biography of Elizabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
by Angelica Goodden.
Deutsch, 384 pp., £19.99, June 1997, 0 233 99021 6
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... France. The broader gestures and stormy chiaroscuro which her English contemporaries favoured, and which came to them by various routes from Caravaggio, would not have suited her. The painter John Opie is reported to have found Vigée Le Brun’s pictures good in ‘the imitation of particular things, velvet, silk etc’ but he also remarked that they gave him ‘no high pleasure as works of art ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell: On the trail of the mysterious John Taylor

1 April 2004
... Taylor, a known and convinced Tory and devotee of the prime minister, William Pitt, managed to remain on friendly terms with men such as William Godwin and the great satirical poet John Wolcot, ‘Peter Pindar’, whom Pitt’s government regarded as dangerously disloyal. Friendship was his true vocation and chief talent, and he worked at it tirelessly. The great majority of his numerous poems – ...
21 January 1982
... years, and it is artificial and unhistorical to try to create a break between the Churchill governments and those of Eden and Macmillan. The new monetarism was brought to England from America by Mr Peter Jay, but politically the beginning of monetarism can be dated from Sir Keith Joseph’s Preston speech of 5 September 1974. The key sentence in that speech was: ‘it is the method that successive ...

Total Knowledge

Peter​ Campbell

10 September 1992
Hypertext 
by George Landow.
Johns Hopkins, 242 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 8018 4281 6
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... in two ways: you have added to it, and, if you save the information about the path you followed, you have created a record relating various items of information. While you have not altered the Opie-text, you have in a sense added to it, and the next user of the document will be able to draw on your contribution by taking note of the path you followed or by reading your note. The starting point ...

Rodinsky’s Place

Patrick Wright

29 October 1987
White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings 
by Iain Sinclair.
Goldmark, 210 pp., £12.50, October 1987, 1 870507 00 2
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... the so-called ‘Modernist’ tradition in American-English poetry has degenerated into the irrational creed of a dismal little sect. But despite his growing reputation as the abracadabra man behind Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor, Sinclair doesn’t write as a believer either here or in Lud Heat (1975). Placing his own necromancy closer to the tradition of Rimbaud than to that of Madame Blavatsky, he ...

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