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Diary

Tim Dee: Twitching, 11 March 2010

... and often I wished for less, wanted more birds, fewer words. The antecedent of Birdscapes is James Fisher’s still unsurpassed Shell Bird Book of 1966. Fisher seemed to know all there was to know about birds and had much to tell us on subjects ranging from the fossil avifauna of Britain to John Clare’s poetic bird ...

He Who Must Bear All

John Watts: Henry V at Home, 2 March 2017

Henry V: The Conscience of a King 
by Malcolm Vale.
Yale, 308 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 300 14873 2
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... in the 1420 Treaty of Troyes, Henry joined forces with his new allies, Charles VI of France and Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, to send envoys to the crusader king of Poland, the Byzantine emperor and the Ottoman sultan. The exact purpose of the mission is unclear: the emperor was told of the kings’ hope that Rome and Constantinople could be ...

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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... Norman MacCaig’s Voice-over, three years on from his Collected Poems, has 58; Cat’s Whisker by Philip Gross (three years on) 41; Jouissance by William Scammell (two years) 38; Disbelief by John Ash (three years) 55; Ken Smith’s Wormwood, a collection of poems written during a spell as a writer in residence in Wormwood Scrubs (one year), 30. The ...

Onomastics

Alex Ivanovitch: William Boyd, 4 June 1998

Armadillo 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 310 pp., £16.99, February 1998, 0 241 13928 7
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Nat Tate: American Artist, 1928-60 
by William Boyd.
Twenty One, 77 pp., £9.95, April 1998, 1 901785 01 7
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... had been called Gilbert Kline, Jonathan Pollock, Cyril O’Hara, Jennifer Krasner, Timothy Rivers, Philip Tate?’ The question is left hanging but the answer, in Tate’s case, is that this little practical joke would surely have gone out into the world without its best gag. Had the guests at Modern Painters’ New York party read The New Confessions, for ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... historians should consult his remarks on X, Catacomb, and the New English Weekly edited by Philip Mairet, a man of integrity and enthusiasm whom Sisson affectionately evokes: ‘his eyes would light up as visibly as the bulbs on a pin-table, as the ideas rattled round.’ The bohemian world of poets, painters and little magazines, the ‘natural ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... the indispensable Eisenhowerist who naturally writes of the WSC-Eisenhower relationship, to Philip Ziegler, the tactful Mountbatten biographer who does for WSC and the monarchy, the contributors cover almost every imaginable WSC facet and interface, sometimes with considerable factual detail. The late D.J. Wenden provides chapter and verse and lots of ...

Nudge-Winking

Terry Eagleton: T.S. Eliot’s Politics, 19 September 2002

The ‘Criterion’: Cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Interwar Britain 
by Jason Harding.
Oxford, 250 pp., £35, April 2002, 9780199247172
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... altogether, is at the heart of Modernism. The pre-modern in Eliot’s poetry is a matter of Fisher Kings and fertility cults; in his prose it is a question of classical order, Tory traditionalism and the Christian church. In both cases, however, a discredited individualism must yield to a more corporate form of being, roughly at the time when ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 4 December 2014

Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... 1960s was his campaign against Stuart Montgomery. Montgomery’s Fulcrum Press had published Roy Fisher, Lorine Niedecker, Robert Duncan and Lee Harwood, and seemed poised to become the publisher the British Poetry Revival of those years needed to counterbalance the waning radical commitments of the post-Eliot Faber list. Reprinting Finlay’s 1960 volume ...

One Click at a Time

Owen Hatherley, 30 June 2016

PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future 
by Paul Mason.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £8.99, June 2016, 978 0 14 197529 0
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Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work 
by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams.
Verso, 256 pp., £12.99, October 2015, 978 1 78478 096 8
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... how we got here, Srnicek and Williams – like so many recent writers, from Owen Jones to Mark Fisher to Philip Mirowski – lay great stress on the think-tanks (the Mont Pelerin Society and the like) that had their solutions ready when Keynesianism faltered in the mid-1970s. The ‘folk politics’ of Climate ...

Six Scotches More

Michael Wood: Anthony Powell, 8 February 2001

A Writer's Notebook 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 169 pp., £14.99, February 2001, 0 434 00915 6
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... he wrote two further, later novels, not in the sequence, called O How the Wheel Becomes It and The Fisher King. The Powell offered to us here, in the pre-title list of his books, is the author of a nine-volume sequence of novels called A Dance to the Music of Time, and a further four-volume sequence called Books to Furnish a Room. The attraction of the slip is ...

Vorsprung durch Techno

Ian Penman, 10 September 2020

Kraftwerk: Future Music from Germany 
by Uwe Schütte.
Penguin, 316 pp., £9.99, February, 978 0 14 198675 3
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... the interplay between a bourgeois hanging on to an ageing modernity and the counter-culture,’ Philip Mann writes in The Dandy At Dusk: Taste and Melancholy in the 20th Century (2017), ‘that makes the 1970s.’As Kraftwerk developed their new, distinctive sound, they also evinced a talent for supplying quotes of the sort that on-the-make young music ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson, 23 October 2014

Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... Philip Larkin​ ’s ‘Church Going’, when I read it first, came as a relief. For once, someone had said something true, or almost true, about religion and its shadowy aftermath. The poem seemed to have a lovely assuredness and finality. The self-deprecating voice – resigned and a bit sad – was having an argument with no one ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... team, led by the late Sir Michael Havers; the juniors were Michael Hill, Paul Purnell and Philip Havers (Sir Michael’s son). The three juniors at a later point signed a note listing, among others, Conlon’s alibi witnesses. They included Burke’s name on the list. However, a separate list later made available to the defence unaccountably omitted ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... political somersault, embraced Unionism and became a confidant of imperial figures such as Jackie Fisher, the first sea lord, whose ambitious battleship-building programme Garvin publicised and encouraged. His greatest achievement was to transform the venerable (founded 1791) and loss-making Observer into the prototype of the modern ‘quality’ Sunday ...

The Darwin Show

Steven Shapin, 7 January 2010

... late 1920s to the 1950s, vital contributions to which were made by the English statistician R.A. Fisher, a eugenicist and a devout Christian who saw biological progress as evidence of God’s active and continuing role in nature, and whose centenary in 1990 was not a significant media event.You could point out that Darwin would have been regarded as a very ...

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