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Southern Comfort

Claude Rawson, 16 April 1981

Jefferson Davis gets his citizenship back 
by Robert PennWarren.
Kentucky/Transatlantic Book Service, 114 pp., £4.85, December 1980, 0 8131 1445 4
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Being here: Poetry 1977-1980 
by Robert PennWarren.
Secker, 109 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 36650 9
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Ways of light: Poems 1972-1980 
by Richard Eberhart.
Oxford, 68 pp., £5.95, January 1981, 9780195027372
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... In 1979 Robert PennWarren – novelist, critic, and dean of American poets – returned to his native Todd County, Kentucky, to attend ceremonies in honor of another native son – Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, whose United States citizenship had just been restored, ninety years after his death, by a special act of Congress ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... by established names, among them Frank Conroy, Stuart Dybeck, Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Stone and Amy Tan. Those writers known partly for formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected, engage with the question of how a story convinces us of ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd, 10 August 2000

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... revenge on Edmund Wilson; the witches of Eastwick (lacking only their Hardwick) have vented about Robert Lowell. To interview all the exes of Philip Rahv would be an undertaking from which the most committed Boswellian might recoil. (Though it’s fascinating to speculate what might have happened if Rahv and Mary McCarthy had made a go of it; a marriage ...

‘I intend to support white rule’

Ian Hamilton: Allen Tate, 24 May 2001

Allen Tate: Orphan of the South 
by Thomas Underwood.
Princeton, 447 pp., £21.95, December 2000, 0 691 06950 6
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... mother also made a somewhat pitiable fuss of her Virginia roots and claimed to be descended from Robert E. Lee. When her marriage began to fall apart, she made it her mission to educate Allen and his brothers in the details of her family history, taking them repeatedly on visits to ancestral sites and introducing them to ancient relatives. On one ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy, 4 March 1999

Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... his readers through a particular poem. Valéry, Allen Tate, William Empson, John Crowe Ransom, Robert PennWarren and Robert Lowell were instructive in that way. But it is rare for a poet to lead readers through a poem, draft by draft, or explain how he settled for one word rather ...

Time and Men and Deeds

Christopher Driver, 4 August 1983

Blue Highways: A Journey into America 
by William Least Heat Moon.
Secker, 421 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 436 28459 6
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... of curiosity: historical, technical, geographical. The result falls short of the masterpiece that Robert PennWarren hails on the jacket. It needs a bigger and better-stocked mind to carry the reader from one individually satisfying sketch to another over such a long span. But for a writer’s first published book it ...

Static

Lorna Scott Fox, 22 September 1994

The Still Moment 
by Paul Binding.
Virago, 290 pp., £20, May 1994, 1 85381 441 5
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... know about her could be more satisfactory to me than this.’ Despite Welty’s prompt adoption by Robert PennWarren and the Southern Review crowd, the figure who emerges from Portor’s 1941 text is Austenish, ‘a quiet, tranquil-looking, modest girl’ who sits in a corner listening. Many years, honours, fellowships ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again, 11 August 2016

Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... In the summer​ of 1935, when he was 18, Robert Lowell and two friends from St Mark’s School – Blair Clark and Frank Parker – rented a house in Nantucket. Under Lowell’s direction, they studied the Bible (with special attention to the Book of Job) and ate cereal with raw honey and ‘badly’ cooked eels ...

Two Americas and a Scotland

Nicholas Everett, 27 September 1990

Collected Poems, 1937-1971 
by John Berryman, edited by Charles Thornbury.
Faber, 348 pp., £17.50, February 1990, 0 571 14317 2
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The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Faber, 427 pp., £17.50, February 1990, 0 571 14318 0
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Poems 1959-1979 
by Frederick Seidel.
Knopf, 112 pp., $19.95, November 1989, 0 394 58021 4
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These Days 
by Frederick Seidel.
Knopf, 50 pp., $18.95, October 1989, 0 394 58022 2
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A Scottish Assembly 
by Robert Crawford.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.99, April 1990, 0 7011 3595 6
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... while still an undergraduate at Columbia, where Mark Van Doren was his teacher and mentor; and Robert PennWarren was the editor (at Southern Review) whom he first sought to impress. But if the New Critical aesthetic disciplined Berryman it also inhibited him. It gave him a good technical training, but its ...

Southern Discomfort

Bertram Wyatt-Brown, 8 June 1995

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism 
by Eugene Genovese.
Harvard, 138 pp., £17.95, October 1994, 0 674 82527 6
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... slaves’ complicity in their own wretchedness, critics denounced Roll, Jordan, Roll, along with Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman’s Time on the Cross, which claimed that slavery was a rational, profitable, even materially beneficial institution not only for masters but for slaves as well. Roll, Jordan, Roll might not have won Genovese much gratitude from ...

Terrible to be alive

Julian Symons, 5 December 1991

Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... time he went at the age of 18 to Vanderbilt and attracted the attention of John Crowe Ransom and Robert PennWarren it was glory all the way until he enlisted in the services a decade later. When in 1934 Allen Tate put together a poetry supplement for a magazine, it included several poets with firm reputations, but ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... is alive. Jimi Hendrix is alive. Lyndon Johnson is alive. James Jones is alive. Jim Morrison and Robert PennWarren are alive. Richard Nixon is dead; and a Soviet-bloc skier named Ivana Trump – someone overhears Sixties psychic Jeanne Dixon saying – will assign her name to a novel she does not write with the full ...

Bush’s Useful Idiots

Tony Judt: Whatever happened to American liberalism?, 21 September 2006

... Howe and Eudora Welty. These and other signatories – the economist Kenneth Arrow, the poet Robert PennWarren – were the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of American public life. But who, now, would sign such a protest? Liberalism in the United States today is the politics that dares not ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... poets in these pages – the stellar cast includes Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, Truman Capote, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert PennWarren, Peter Matthiessen, Philip Roth, Irwin Shaw and the always vivacious William Burroughs (‘He is an absolutely astonishing ...

Hate, Greed, Lust and Doom

Sean O’Faolain, 16 April 1981

William Faulkner: His Life and Work 
by David Minter.
Johns Hopkins, 325 pp., £9.50, January 1981, 0 8018 2347 1
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... movement is now probably best remembered by the outstanding writers associated with it, such as Robert PennWarren (All the King’s Men), John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, even Robert Lowell, who literally pitched his tent on Tate’s lawn. All of these must have responded warmly to ...

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