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Hairy

E.S. Turner, 1 October 1987

The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... any fighting unit. In the Great War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That), Siegfried Sassoon (Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer) and Frank Richards (not, as some have supposed, the creator of Billy Bunter but the author of Old soldiers never die, an excellent view of the ...

Six Wolfs, Three Weills

David Simpson: Emigration from Nazi Germany, 5 October 2006

Weimar in Exile: The Anti-Fascist Emigration in Europe and America 
by Jean-Michel Palmier, translated by David Fernbach.
Verso, 852 pp., £29.99, July 2006, 1 84467 068 6
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... because of the apparent unwillingness of the Democrats (with such honourable exceptions as Senator Robert Byrd) to sense either a principled or even a merely opportunistic reason to act on their findings. Plenty of people are telling the truth to power but power is not listening. Take the case of Willi Münzenberg, the high-living ‘red millionaire’ who ...

Damnable Heresy

David Simpson: The Epic of Everest, 25 October 2012

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest 
by Wade Davis.
Vintage, 655 pp., £12.99, October 2012, 978 0 09 956383 9
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... without being deeply political. He published a book on Boswell and took to the Himalayas a copy of Robert Bridges’s wartime poetry anthology, The Spirit of Man. He was a brilliant but arguably reckless climber, personally responsible for seven Sherpa deaths in 1922, while making a run at the summit against all prudent advice. His failure to provision Camp ...

Petulance is not a tragic flaw

Rosemary Hill: Edward and Mrs Simpson, 30 July 2015

Princes at War: The British Royal Family’s Private Battle in the Second World War 
by Deborah Cadbury.
Bloomsbury, 407 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 4088 4524 0
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... agreed. ‘What a shame,’ he noted in his diary. ‘What a terrible shame.’ Wallis Simpson and Edward Windsor on their wedding day, 3 June 1937, photographed by Cecil Beaton. The ‘abdication crisis’, as it became known, in which George’s elder brother, the Prince of Wales, resigned the crown after less than a year as Edward VIII, is now ...

Glittering Fiend

Ian Hamilton: John Berryman, 9 December 1999

Berryman's Shakespeare 
edited by John Haffenden.
Farrar, Straus, 396 pp., $35, February 1999, 0 374 11205 3
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John Berryman’s Personal Library: A Catalogue 
by Richard Kelly.
Lang, 433 pp., £39, March 1999, 0 8204 3998 3
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... that would eventually engulf him. In her memoir, Poets in their Youth, his first wife, Eileen Simpson, has recorded many hair-raising episodes from this period, and told of her own gradual realisation that ‘no amount of love and care could protect him from external circumstances, and that these could bring him to the edge of madness’. On the one ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good reasons, too obvious to need repeating, for the inclusion of ...

Adele goes West

Mark Lambert, 17 September 1987

Anywhere but here 
by Mona Simpson.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7475 0017 7
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Herself in Love 
by Marianne Wiggins.
Collins, 184 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 00 223147 6
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Journey of the Wolf 
by Douglas Day.
Bodley Head, 235 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 370 31064 0
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Spanking the maid 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 102 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 434 14289 1
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A Night at the Movies, or, You must remember this 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 187 pp., £12.95, August 1987, 0 434 14390 1
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... Mona Simpson’s Anywhere but here might seem in one respect a common sort of first novel: it is a book about an intelligent child growing up with a troublesome parent. In fact, though, it is evident almost from the beginning that this is a book which does not aim merely to tell a personal story well. One senses the ambitiousness of this book, a wish to matter, to take an interesting part in the ongoing conversation of American Literature, and this is exhilarating ...

Because We Could

David Simpson: Soldiers and Torture, 18 November 2010

None of Us Were Like This Before: American Soldiers and Torture 
by Joshua Phillips.
Verso, 237 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 1 84467 599 9
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... budget. There was no lack of star appeal in the films: Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Redford and Charlize Theron. The negative reception will inevitably be taken as a demonstration that complex and self-examining films are not welcome in a time of war. So the problem is not so much what Hollywood produces as what audiences (and ...

Dangerously Insane

Deyan Sudjic: Léon Krier, 7 October 2010

The Architecture of Community 
by Léon Krier.
Island, 459 pp., £12.99, February 2010, 978 1 59726 579 9
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... architectural policy of the next British monarch, as well as of the current mayor of Rome. Robert Stern, once a board member of the Disney Corporation, now dean of Yale’s School of Architecture and the author of the introduction to Krier’s latest book, is the architect of the presidential library of George W. Bush, now under construction in ...

Iwo Jima v. Abu Ghraib

David Simpson: The iconic image, 29 November 2007

No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture and Liberal Democracy 
by Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites.
Chicago, 419 pp., £19, June 2007, 978 0 226 31606 2
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... photographs, have been commonplace since at least the American Civil War. In No Caption Needed, Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites are less concerned with these debates than with the ways in which iconic images have been used to propose and renegotiate various kinds of ‘democratic citizenship’ and ‘civic identity’. Here original truths matter ...

Sticktoitiveness

John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... visits to 37 St Giles and his evidently courteous exchanges with recent custodians of the project (Robert Burchfield, John Simpson, Edmund Weiner) Willinsky detects a quaint mixture of ‘afternoon tea and high-speed computer searches’. His conclusion is friendly, but a little condescending: ‘All told, the OED’s ...

Naming the Dead

David Simpson: The politics of commemoration, 15 November 2001

... put to work as a response to the much-touted decline of civil society analysed, for example, in Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone. They are telling us, at this moment of extreme vulnerability, that corporate America (or international finance), in partnership with infinite reserves of personal charity, was creating a wonderful life that has now so tragically ...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett, 11 July 1991

Omeros 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 325 pp., £17.50, September 1990, 0 571 16070 0
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Collected Poems 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 456 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 7011 3713 4
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The Mail from Anywhere 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, September 1990, 0 19 282779 0
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An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems 
by Matt Simpson.
Bloodaxe, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 1 85224 103 9
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... wit and humour to protect itself against the failure of its search; and what the art critic Robert Hughes calls (in a different context) a ‘prophylactic irony’ to obscure the poet’s exact attitude to his statements, making his own uncertainty itself uncertain. Such games, and indeed such rigours, are quite unnecessary to a work like Omeros whose ...

At which Englishman’s speech does English terminate?

Henry Hitchings: The ‘OED’, 7 March 2013

Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... without them in the 1933 Supplement. This was the decision of the new Supplement’s chief editor, Robert Burchfield. Ogilvie criticises Burchfield, and her book has caused some fuss on account of its supposed allegation that he surreptitiously deleted words of foreign origin from the OED. She contends that by bringing back the tramlines Burchfield was ...

A Hammer in His Hands

Frank Kermode: Lowell’s Letters, 22 September 2005

The Letters of Robert Lowell 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 852 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 571 20204 7
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... Writing letters was not the work Robert Lowell thought himself born to do, but what with one thing and another – good friends, a lively mind, deep troubles – he wrote a great many of them, demonstrating at considerable length ‘the excitement of his intelligence and the liveliness of his prose’. These are the words of Saskia Hamilton, the poet who has undertaken the arduous and complicated task of editing this selection ...

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