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When Things Got Tough

Peter Green: The Sacking of Athens, 7 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Outbreaks of Poets

Robert Crawford, 15 June 2023

The Treasuries: Poetry Anthologies and the Making of British Culture 
by Clare Bucknell.
Head of Zeus, 344 pp., £27.99, February, 978 1 80024 144 2
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... included verse in Middle English, Latin, Old French and Old English as well as the language of Robert Browning (‘Oh, to be in England’), Linton Kwesi Johnson (‘Inglan is a Bitch’) and T.S. Eliot (‘History is now and England’). I had got as far as setting out the rationale for such a book in a lecture at the British Academy when the Penguin and ...

Green Pastel Redness

Colin Kidd: The Supreme Court Coup, 24 March 2022

Dissent: The Radicalisation of the Republican Party and Its Capture of the Supreme Court 
by Jackie Calmes.
Twelve, 478 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 5387 0079 2
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Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months that Transformed the Supreme Court 
by Linda Greenhouse.
Random House, 300 pp., £22.50, November 2021, 978 0 593 44793 2
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... endorsement, 96-3. But between these smooth confirmations two brutal confirmation battles – for Robert Bork, rejected by the Senate in 1987, and for Clarence Thomas, narrowly confirmed in 1991 – presaged the hyper-polarisation of the present-day confirmation process.Bork and Thomas, like Scalia, espoused originalism, a reactionary trend in American ...

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

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 ...

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, 2 June 2016

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 ...

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 ...


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 ...

Cynical Realism

Randall Kennedy: Supreme Court Biases, 21 January 2021

... in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, refused even to consider Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Acting to obstruct Garland eight months before the presidential election of 2016, McConnell argued that whomever the American people chose as their new chief executive should be the one to nominate a new ...

Summer Simmer

Tom Vanderbilt: Chicago heatwaves, 22 August 2002

Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago 
by Eric Klinenberg.
Chicago, 305 pp., £19.50, August 2002, 0 226 44321 3
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... summer, we have the heat index, first proposed in 1979 by the Australian environmental scientist Robert Steadman in an article in the Journal of Applied Meteorology entitled ‘The Assessment of Sultriness Part I: A Temperature-Humidity Index Based on Human Physiology and Clothing Science’. Steadman’s index depends on two variables – temperature and ...

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