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When Things Got Tough

Peter Green: The Sacking of Athens, 6 September 2017

Athens Burning: The Persian Invasion of Greece and the Evacuation of Attica 
by Robert Garland.
Johns Hopkins, 170 pp., £15, February 2017, 978 1 4214 2196 4
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... recapture some of their former splendour? Such thoughts were very much in my mind while reading Robert Garland’s retelling of Athens’s tribulations during those two fraught years of Persian invasion. It is a story that has been told countless times, but never before has the narrative concentrated primarily on the Athenians’ wholesale evacuation ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 20 March 2003

... The one the apple-pickers missed. Not missed. They could never reach it. Meleager Though the garland round Heliodora’s head Fades now, she sparkles, she is herself A garland to garland the ...

Redesigning Cambridge

Sheldon Rothblatt, 5 March 1981

Cambridge before Darwin: The Ideal of a Liberal Education 1800-1860 
by Martha McMackin Garland.
Cambridge, 196 pp., £14.50, November 1980, 0 521 23319 4
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... also true that a relief expedition has been hacking through textbook surveys for several decades. Robert Butts and Walter Cannon have called attention to the scientific and philosophical contributions of the ‘Cambridge Network’ – men like William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, Charles Babbage, George Airy, John Herschel and John Henslow. Some half-dozen pieces ...

Toto the Villain

Robert Tashman, 9 July 1992

The Wizard of Oz 
by Salman Rushdie.
BFI, 69 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 0 85170 300 3
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... seems hard-hearted and neglectful of emotional facts. In truth, the film ends ambiguously. Judy Garland, showing early signs of the flamboyant masochism of her maturity, makes Dorothy yearn for Kansas: but when she wakes up in Kansas she speaks longingly of the colour and excitement of Oz. Rushdie misses an important aspect of the story’s ...

Among the Picts

John Sutherland, 18 August 1994

Stained Radiance: A Fictionist’s Prelude 
by J. Leslie Mitchell.
Polygon, 219 pp., £7.95, July 1993, 0 7486 6141 7
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The Speak of the Mearns 
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Polygon, 268 pp., £8.95, June 1994, 0 7486 6167 0
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... over an array of representative lives. He also incorporates a self-portrait in the form of John Garland, a clerk in the RAF struggling to write his first hyper-ironical novel. Garland, we’re told, ‘hated the Air Force. Like 90 per cent of those in the ranks, he had enlisted under the compulsion of hunger and ...

You could scream

Jenny Diski, 20 October 1994

Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me 
by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey.
Century, 468 pp., £17.99, September 1994, 0 7126 6012 7
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Greta & Cecil 
by Diana Souhami.
Cape, 272 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 224 03719 6
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... Dreams are for dreaming about. The Hollywood dream-masters got it right when they had Judy Garland playing a star-struck teenager gazing at a pin-up of Clark Gable and singing ‘If you were the only boy in the world’. It’s if, not when. Mix them up and you remember the story of Gable resting on set minus his false teeth shouting gummily at another ...

Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox, 6 November 1980

Garbo 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... are no anecdotes here about what Louis B. Mayer may or may not have done to the pubescent Judy Garland, or others in his thrall. The worst that is said of the man many still speak of as a monster is that he was a ‘part-affectionate, part-retributive tyrant’. Where Mr Walker excels is where he hardly needed MGM’s dusty papers – that is, in his ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter, 7 November 1991

Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... the poem shows Sexton’s craft, honed with advice from John Holmes, W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Lowell. Retrieved at the last moment from her ‘bone pile’ of discards to fill out the book, it had gone through 19 drafts before Sexton achieved what Middlebrook calls the ‘double “I” ’ of the stanza and refrain. It was not craft, however, that ...

Skeltonics

Helen Cooper: The maverick poetry of John Skelton, 14 December 2006

John Skelton and Poetic Authority: Defining the Liberty to Speak 
by Jane Griffiths.
Oxford, 213 pp., £50, February 2006, 9780199273607
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... figure, and in Anthony Munday’s Robin Hood play within a play, The Downfall and Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, a ‘real-life’ Skelton takes the role of Friar Tuck. His recovery came on the back of the rise of Modernism, with its opening of readers’ minds to new kinds of non-traditional poetry, and it was confirmed with the appearance of ...

Carved Cosmos

Tom Lowenstein, 5 August 1993

Amaravati: Buddhist Sculpture from the Great Stupa 
by Robert Knox.
British Museum, 247 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 7141 1452 9
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... the Wolfson Foundation and the British Government. I have condensed this latter-day story from Robert Knox’s 1992 monograph, which for the first time gives a detailed description of the whole Amaravati collection, including the pieces still in storage. The publication of Knox’s beautifully illustrated book, which builds on the work of a museum ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett, 2 August 1984

... on, should want to keep the winning team together. Accordingly, we had the same director, Patrick Garland, the same designer, Julia Trevelyan-Oman; the management even contrived that we should begin rehearsing on the same stage, Drury Lane, and on the same day, August Bank Holiday, as three years before. In some cultures they would have slit the throat of a ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 1 June 2016

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... and, in anagram, ‘garland’, ‘braggart’, ‘discharge’, ‘ragged’, ‘margins’, ‘garden’ etc). It’s a phoneme that, at its root, links movement (gradus, grex) with writing (‘engrave’) and death (‘grave’), a connection Prynne makes explicitly in Graft and ...

The Thought of Ruislip

E.S. Turner: The Metropolitan Line, 2 December 2004

Metro-Land: British Empire Exhibition Number 
by Oliver Green.
Southbank, 144 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 1 904915 00 0
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... London’s Metropolitan Railway (1986), the name Metroland was the inspiration of James Garland, a copywriter in the company’s publicity department, who was laid up with flu but leapt out of bed in high Archimedean excitement when the name entered his head. The public first heard of Metroland in 1915, when the railway used it in a penny booklet ...

At the Hayward

Marina Warner: Tracey Emin, 25 August 2011

... success has brought her way. She shares many features with other idols – Colette and Callas, Garland, and even Monroe. I am not proposing that Emin has shaped her tale consciously to fit modern myths. Not at all. But it is one of the reasons her art has caught the popular imagination so powerfully. It is also the reason her audience defends her. She has ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... For example: Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, James Wong Howe, Dudley Nichols, Clifford Odets, Robert Rossen, John Garfield, Charlie Chaplin and Leo McCarey all attended a reception in July 1943 for the Soviet director and administrator Mikhail Kalatozov. At that time Russian and American propaganda methods dovetailed nicely, and everyone seemed to approve ...

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