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Thomas Jones: Ukip’s wrinkly glitz, 4 November 2004

... So Robert Kilroy-Silk, the fallen idol of daytime TV, has failed to win the backing of a majority of the United Kingdom Independence Party’s local chairmen in his bid to replace Roger Knapman as Ukip’s leader. The party’s highest-profile MEP isn’t going to let a ‘farcical’ straw poll stand in his way, however ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... Delafield, whose Diary of a Provincial Lady appeared in Time and Tide in the 1930s and whose ‘Robert’ is similarly laconic, impassive and discouraging. This fairly benign fiction, created perhaps as much for herself as for her daughters, concealed the painful truth that Desmond drank too much, spent too much and went from one unsuccessful job to ...

Jane Austen’s Word Process

Marilyn Butler, 25 June 1987

Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels and an Experiment in Method 
by J.F Burrows.
Oxford, 245 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 812856 8
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... per 1000 words). Equally, we know how utterly opposed in behaviour are the conforming Mr Collins and the wayward Lydia Bennet, but it takes a neat diagram correlating their word-types to prove that their differences are also finely verbal. Burrows’s commentary on the diagram wittily sums up his findings: Chiefly in self-gratifying anecdotes, Lydia ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns, 25 July 2002

Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... philosopher Thomas Blackwell was writing that Homer was a ‘stroling indigent Bard’. Robert Burns liked that idea. In ‘Love and Liberty’ a bard sings alongside prostitutes and tinkers, and pronounces himself ‘Homer like’. Burns’s footnote (Burns enjoyed footnotes) points out cheekily that ‘Homer is allowed to be the oldest ...

When Ireland Became Divided

Garret FitzGerald: The Free State’s Fight for Recognition, 21 January 1999

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Vol. I: 1919-22 
edited by Ronan Fanning.
Royal Irish Academy and Department of Foreign Affairs, 548 pp., £30, October 1998, 1 874045 63 1
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... Éireann was proscribed in September 1919. In the subsequent guerrilla warfare of 1919-21 Michael Collins, the Minister for Finance and Director of Intelligence of the Volunteers or Irish Republican Army, rose to prominence. In 1920 Britain established Home Rule states – one substantive, comprising the six Unionist-majority north-eastern counties, and one ...

A Perfect Eel

Elaine Showalter: ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’, 21 June 2012

Lady Audley’s Secret 
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, edited by Lyn Pykett.
Oxford, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2012, 978 0 19 957703 3
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... and eclectic reader’ of Shakespeare, Scott, Byron, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray and Wilkie Collins, but modelled her first literary efforts ‘chiefly upon Jane Eyre’ and believed that Charlotte Brontë was the most passionate Victorian novelist. Braddon also enjoyed the popular fiction in penny magazines and was a ‘genuine enthusiast’ of French ...

American English

Robert Ilson, 6 May 1982

Oxford American Dictionary 
Oxford, 816 pp., £9.95, March 1981, 0 19 502795 7Show More
Longman New Generation Dictionary 
Longman, 798 pp., £3.95, July 1981, 0 582 55626 0Show More
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary 
Harper and Row, 890 pp., £4.95, February 1981, 0 06 180254 9Show More
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... Robert Burchfield, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, made a bid to unite two nations divided by a common language by unveiling the Oxford American Dictionary, which includes such words as gridlock (“urban traffic jam”). ’ So proclaimed the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. British and American English do indeed differ in all sorts of ways, as the following list of equivalent pairs will remind any doubters: lift/elevator, push-chair/stroller, bonnet/hood, boot/trunk, windscreen/windshield ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: The Menopause, 10 October 1991

... hard it is being a man and having to stake your claim and prove your wonderfulness at every turn. Robert Bly says men need a male mother, and that’s fine by me. But I won’t believe it isn’t harder to be a woman until the day, should it ever come, when the balance of power is so drastically reversed that women can get into serious trouble, lose their ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... As a boy, Robert Duncan had a recurring dream. He would imagine himself in the middle of a treeless field. The ripe grass rippled, though there was no wind, and the light, as he later remembered, ‘was everywhere’, though there was no sun to be seen. Seeing himself in the centre of a circle of children, all of them singing and playing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’, Duncan understood that he was ‘it’: ‘the Chosen One … a “King” or victim of the children’s round dance ...

At the Beverly Wilshire

Ric Burns, 8 January 1987

Hollywood Husbands 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 508 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 14090 2
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Letters from Hollywood 
by Michael Moorcock.
Harrap, 232 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 245 54379 1
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Rain or Shine: A Family Memoir 
by Cyra McFadden.
Secker, 178 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 436 27580 5
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... California acquire the Empyrean hues with which they shimmer in the English mind today. Jackie Collins’s new novel, Hollywood Husbands, continues her maniacal Frankensteinian attempt to effect the imaginative transfer of the American base to a British brain. As in much of Ms Collins’s writing, there’s a ...

Diary

David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... libre ou mourir’, but that wouldn’t have rhymed with ‘holocauste fort’. Plenty of Hubert Robert (‘du plus pur Hubert Robert,’ as Jouve used to say). Found a Folio series edition of Restif de la Bretonne’s Nuits de Paris in the tempting bookshop. When I first knew the Marais in the late Forties it was ...

Thank you, Disney

Jenny Diski: The Town that Disney Built, 24 August 2000

The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney’s New Town 
by Andrew Ross.
Verso, 340 pp., £17, June 2000, 1 85984 772 2
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Celebration, USA: Living in Disney’s Brave New Town 
by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins.
Holt, 342 pp., £18.99, September 1999, 0 8050 5560 6
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... cinema he said he wanted to create a modern movie theatre. That was fine, he was told by Robert Stern, who was overseeing the town’s look, as long as Pelli understood that as far as Celebration was concerned, modern ended in the 1930s. The future as defined by the brochure from Michael Eisner’s Disney Corporation was to be found not in Walt’s ...

Lawful Charm

Donald Davie, 6 July 1995

Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, edited by Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 171 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 042379 6
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Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, read by Alan Chedzoy.
Canto, £6.99
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... in English. One who made the comparison with Burns was Gerard Manley Hopkins, writing in 1879 to Robert Bridges. Of Barnes’s dialect poems Hopkins says: ‘A proof of their excellence is that you may translate them and they are nearly as good – I say nearly, because if the dialect plays any lawful part in the effect they ought to lose something in losing ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... stage Scotsmen, impersonating themselves, and about why MacDiarmid hated Harry Lauder. Maybe Merle Collins’s poem about a popular soup, ‘Callaloo’, avoids such worries better, coming with balletic line-breaks out of an oral tradition, a home that nurtures but does not imprison: Mix up like callaloo Not no watery callaloo But a thick, hot, sweet callaloo ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miami Vice’, 17 August 2006

Miami Vice 
directed by Michael Mann.
August 2006
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... the episodes often look like music videos, an effect enhanced by guest appearances from Phil Collins, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Miles Davis and many others. But the other, complementary theory of the series’ origin names a news story about vice cops using repossessed goods as a glossy cover for their assumed criminal characters. This is why Don ...

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