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Private Thomas

Andrew Motion, 19 December 1985

Edward ThomasA Portrait 
by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 331 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 19 818527 8
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... R. George Thomas is a cautious man. His life of Edward Thomas (no relation) is ‘a portrait’ not ‘a biography’. Maybe this is just as well. The poet was a cautious man too. He was also a scrupulous one, and when we read in the first few pages that research for this book began ‘in the early 1960s’, we are encouraged to feel that author and subject are kindred spirits ...

Thomas’s Four Hats

Patricia Beer, 2 April 1981

The Poetry of Edward Thomas 
by Andrew Motion.
Routledge, 193 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7100 0471 0
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... The publishers say that The Poetry of Edward Thomas is the first full-length study to deal exclusively with Thomas’s poetry (in Britain, they must mean). On the face of it, a six-decade gap of this sort shows a strange failure in critical husbandry. Yet it is not really so surprising ...

Obstacles

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 July 1996

Edward ThomasSelected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... It would be quite possible to read about Edward Thomas and wonder how it was that so many people made such allowances for him. A man who had a house built for himself and then refused to live in it, he tormented his wife and children with his restlessness – he calculated he was never happy for more than a quarter of an hour in the day ...

Loose Woven

Peter Howarth: Edward Thomas’s contingencies, 4 August 2005

Collected Poems 
by Edward Thomas, edited by R. George Thomas.
Faber, 264 pp., £12.99, October 2004, 0 571 22260 9
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... The blurb on this excellent new and expanded edition of Edward Thomas’s Collected Poems tells you that Thomas was ‘one of the great English poets of the 20th century’, which is true, and that he was not really a ‘war poet’ but a lonely nature poet, which is slightly less true ...

Z/R

John Banville: Exit Zuckerman, 4 October 2007

Exit Ghost 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 292 pp., £16.99, October 2007, 978 0 224 08173 3
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... voyeuristic using-up of all their lives, gets there first but doesn’t always get it right.’ Z/R himself is no less sparing of the artist. In one of the alternative versions of Zuckerman’s and his brother’s lives in The Counterlife – the novel is very intricate – Henry encounters at his brother’s funeral a mysterious, bearded man who eulogises ...

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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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated ...

I fret and fret

Adam Phillips: Edward Thomas, 5 November 2015

Edward ThomasFrom Adelstrop to Arras 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4081 8713 5
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... Edward Thomas​ believed that up to about the age of four what he called ‘a sweet darkness’ enfolded him ‘with a faint blessing’. It was, though, a darkness and the blessing was faint. ‘From an early age’, Jean Moorcroft Wilson writes, Thomas ‘felt cursed by a self-consciousness he believed the chief cause of his later problems and depression ...

Weasel, Magpie, Crow

Mark Ford: Edward Thomas, 1 January 2009

Edward ThomasThe Annotated Collected Poems 
edited by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 335 pp., £12, June 2008, 978 1 85224 746 1
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... and eloquently, declared in his ‘Art poétique’ of 1874. The line must have lodged in Edward Thomas’s mind: in May 1914, some six months before his late efflorescence into verse at the age of 36, he wrote to Robert Frost of his longing to ‘wring all the necks of my rhetoric – the geese’. He was referring to the over-elaborate style of some of his ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... The third efficacious room is the long narrow gallery at the west end of the Saatchi once we’re a quarter of the way in (so it’s not quite a room, because the chosen Basquiats are dullish and Haring is redundant) and the works before us are those by Jeff Koons, Mike Kelley, Robert Gober, a series of Cindy Sherman photographs which include a ...

He fights with flashing weapons

Katherine Rundell: Thomas Wyatt, 6 December 2012

Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest 
by Susan Brigden.
Faber, 714 pp., £30, September 2012, 978 0 571 23584 1
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Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy 
by Nicola Shulman.
Short Books, 378 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 1 906021 11 5
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... would not see up her skirt. It was a gesture at once gracious and gruesome, and the verse that Sir Thomas Wyatt (probably) wrote on the occasion from the Tower of London is equally dark (‘circa Regna tonat’ means ‘it thunders around the throne’): The bell towre showid me suche syght That in my head stekys day and nyght There dyd I lerne out of A grate ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... he expanded and elucidated Virgil, his translation left nothing out. Royle is right to mention Sir George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh as ‘one of the few intellectual giants of his day’ – ‘that noble wit of Scotland’, as Dryden called him – but he might have told us that his Aretina (1660) was the first novel by a Scotsman (and he mght have mentioned Sir ...

Bouvard and Pécuchet

C.H. Sisson, 6 December 1984

The Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters: Correspondence of George Lyttelton and Rupert Hart-Davis. 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 193 pp., £13.50, April 1984, 0 7195 4108 5
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... We now have the sixth and final volume of the Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters. George Lyttelton died on 1 May 1962, thus ending a correspondence which had begun in 1955; the first of the volumes edited by the survivor was published in 1978, the rest have appeared at intervals since. ‘For beginners’, as Rupert Hart-Davis puts it, mindful of those who have had to pick up the thread at some intermediate stage of the correspondence, the editor ‘had been taught by George at Eton, where he was an outstanding teacher and house-master ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... Arcadia. Shakespeare complete. Raleigh’s History of the World. Bacon complete. The Bible. Sir Thomas Browne complete. Milton, including the prose works. Cowley, Waller and Denham. Dryden, including the prose works and the translations. Samuel Butler complete. Pope complete, including the Iliad and the Odyssey. Addison complete. Steele complete. Swift ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009, 7 January 2010

... Dr Farrer this morning and he thinks the fish probably died after spawning and wonders if they’re sea trout. Salmon have not been known to come up so far, as they can’t negotiate the waterfall and the weir before the lake. 21 January. Working in the BBC Studio at Maida Vale I don’t watch President Obama’s inauguration and am astonished when I see on ...

Change at MoMA

Hal Foster, 7 November 2019

... of its block. The American Folk Art Museum fell in its march west to Sixth Avenue, and only Saint Thomas Church has blocked its access east to Fifth.MoMA has added 47,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 30 per cent increase for a new total of 165,000 square feet in more than sixty galleries, at a cost of $450 million. Roughly half of this great sum came ...

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