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Peter Conrad’s Flight from Precision

Richard Poirier, 17 July 1980

Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... collapsed and they are hung up. I don’t want to go to an ordinary typist.’ he wrote to Cecil Gray. Peter Conrad’s readings of Lawrence are utterly tone-deaf, and not to be able to listen to Lawrence, to move with the cadences of his voice, is not to know what he is saying. As a characteristic example, he asserts that, in Lawrence’s essay ‘Pan in ...

On the Coalition

LRB Contributors, 10 June 2010

... system? In a time of continuous upheaval, coalition rule may seem like a kind of safety. John Gray Its customary hyperbole notwithstanding, the media chorus has correctly identified the novelty of the Conservative-Liberal coalition government at Westminster. What the media have not done, alas, is to address the largely invisible fact that in ...

On Some Days of the Week

Colm Tóibín: Mrs Oscar Wilde, 10 May 2012

Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde 
by Franny Moyle.
John Murray, 374 pp., £9.99, February 2012, 978 1 84854 164 1
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The Picture of Dorian GrayAn Annotated, Uncensored Edition 
by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel.
Harvard, 295 pp., £25.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05792 0
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... martyr to a subversive cult.’ This was wrong: ‘His childish hints at strange sins in Dorian Gray and other works are mere rhetoric … His one great hatred was of dullness, which is very dangerous and can raise a whole nation in its defence.’ Ford Madox Ford, in an article written in 1939, agreed about Wilde’s essential harmlessness, but viewed his ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... Little Review, serialised the novel.) Bryher financially supported her lover H.D. and her husband Robert McAlmon, who published Mina Loy, Djuna Barnes and Ernest Hemingway. There is also the suggestion, never quite substantiated by Souhami, that the way these women lived, their promiscuity and outsized influence, could itself be considered uniquely ...

Beauty + Terror

Kevin Kopelson: Robert Mapplethorpe, 30 June 2016

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive 
by Frances Terpak and Michelle Brunnick.
Getty Research Institute, 240 pp., £32.50, March 2016, 978 1 60606 470 2
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Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs 
by Paul Martineau and Britt Salvesen.
Getty Museum, 340 pp., £40, March 2016, 978 1 60606 469 6
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... naked on the page. Self-portrait for the ‘Don’t Touch Here’ exhibition announcement by Robert Mapplethorpe (1973) If you were also very shy, as Robert Mapplethorpe was (born in 1946, he was in the 1960s still a very young artist making jewellery, collages and assemblages inspired by Joseph Cornell, and not yet ...

Fitz

John Bayley, 4 April 1985

With Friends Possessed: A Life of Edward FitzGerald 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Faber, 313 pp., £17.50, February 1985, 0 571 13462 9
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... apparent timelessness, and depends on the reassurance of anachronism for its populist impact. When Gray observed that ‘the language of the age is never the language of poetry’ he was noting something that the common reader usually takes for granted. Tennyson achieved wide popularity by making poetry sound old-fashioned in a new way. The idiom of The ...

Descent into Oddness

Dinah Birch: Peter Rushforth’s long-awaited second novel, 6 January 2005

Pinkerton’s Sister 
by Peter Rushforth.
Scribner, 729 pp., £18.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5235 7
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... sense. There isn’t much she hasn’t read, or doesn’t remember. Oscar Wilde, the Brontës, Robert Louis Stevenson, Tennyson, George MacDonald, Charles Reade, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, Wilkie Collins, Mary Braddon, Conan Doyle, Du Maurier, and plenty more. Her literary memory is a compendium of every syllabus in Victorian literature ...

Mr and Mrs Hopper

Gail Levin: How the Tate gets Edward Hopper wrong, 24 June 2004

Edward Hopper 
edited by Sheena Wagstaff.
Tate Gallery, 256 pp., £29.99, May 2004, 1 85437 533 4
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... reads: ‘According to Jo’s diary Hopper suffers from depression and frequently reads poems of Robert Frost.’ The audio tour claims that Two Comedians (1966), Hopper’s last canvas, is ‘unusually autobiographical’ and demonstrates ‘the extent to which Hopper’s work was a collaborative process with his wife as model, muse and ...

Good Manners

Craig Raine, 17 May 1984

The Collected Prose of Elizabeth Bishop 
edited by Robert Giroux.
Chatto, 278 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2809 7
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... river Alph in Coleridge’s dream. It fans out over the red stone, narrows and rises in cold gray ridges, disappears underground, and then shows up again further off, dashing downwards now through more beautiful rocks. It then takes off downwards for the Underworld. You can hang over the rocks and see it far below. It keeps descending, disappears into a ...

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 ...

Kurt Waldheim’s Past

Gitta Sereny, 21 April 1988

Waldheim 
by Luc Rosenzweig and Bernard Cohen.
Robson, 192 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 86051 506 0
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Waldheim: The Missing Years 
by Robert Edwin Herzstein.
Grafton, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 246 13381 3
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... history to advance their dangerous ideologies, and, at the other end of the scale, men like Martin Gray (For those I loved), who use these appalling events for self-aggrandisement. Interestingly, nobody minds much about Irving, but attacking Gray causes wrathful indignation among Holocaust dogmatists. I sought to learn from ...

The End of Labour?

Colin Kidd, 8 March 2012

... referendum on independence in 2013 and instead moved to hold one in 2014, the 700th anniversary of Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. Yet until Cameron’s intervention it wasn’t clear that Salmond was leading Scotland towards independence at all. While independence might have been a very long-term goal, he seemed ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... have a large collection of Monets (say) than that Buffalo University should have a collection of Robert Graves manuscripts (say). I view with unconcern the drift of British manuscripts to America, where our language is spoken and our literature studied. So one must travel to California to read, for example, Amis’s several unpublished novels: the ...

Peeping Tam

Karl Miller, 6 August 1981

... Robert Burns wrote about art, friendship, religion, animals, drink, marriage and love. The First two and the last of these themes – poetry, sociability and sexual adventure, to call them by other names – commemorate activities which enabled him in youth, as did his drinking, to face the prospect of a lifetime’s hard labour on the land ...

Diary

Stephen Spender: Towards a Kind of Neo-Paganism, 21 April 1983

... of pop groups. We crowded into a small chapel with a Greek temple façade and an interior of dirty gray stone. At the far end – which was not very far – there was a hideous cough-lozenge-amber-coloured stained-glass window. The chapel seemed to have its own special cold clamminess, intenser than that of the cemetery. Some of the congregation were carrying ...

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