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Selected Poems 
by James Merrill.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £9.95, April 1996, 1 85754 228 2
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... to think of it, British recognition of Bishop herself was belated; for decades she was upstaged by Robert Lowell, probably because he lived in England and behaved in a way that seemed more certifiably poetic. Now Merrill is available to the English in a slim volume of his best work, selected by him shortly before his death in 1995. Merrill was far from ...

Erasures

Mark Ford: Donald Justice, 16 November 2006

Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... by Weldon Kees’, ‘Variations on a Theme from James’, ‘After a Phrase Abandoned by Wallace Stevens’, ‘Variations on a Text by Vallejo’, ‘A Variation on Baudelaire’s “La Servante au grand coeur”’. ‘American Scenes (1904-1905)’ is quarried almost entirely from Henry James’s account of his return to his homeland and the notebook ...

Ways to hate Delacroix, and then Matisse

Robert Irwin: French art, 10 June 1999

The Allure of Empire: Art in the Service of French Imperialism 1798-1836 
by Todd Porterfield.
Princeton, 245 pp., £32.50, March 1999, 0 691 05959 4
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... very brief text does not discuss paintings of Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign at all. MaryAnne Stevens does briefly discuss the three Egyptian paintings by Gros and notes that they were commissioned as propaganda, that Gros had not been to Egypt and that he ‘conjured up an exotic world of brilliant colour, dramatic turmoil and unfamiliar settings, which ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... more crazy if we were to have more casualties on our side to save the Japanese. This is quoted in Robert Kee’s 1945 – The World We Fought For. Kee’s method is to construct an account of the year from contemporary newspapers and journals. Its vice is that it can look rather lazily tacked together. Its virtue is that it helps us to see events as the ...

Dawn of the Dark Ages

Ronald Stevens: Fleet Street magnates, 4 December 2003

Newspapermen: Hugh Cudlipp, Cecil Harmsworth King and the Glory Days of Fleet Street 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Secker, 484 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 436 19992 0
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... the sleazy stories about bonking bimbos achieved a dominant influence in the circulation charts. Robert Maxwell, who bought the Mirror in 1984, did not attempt to reverse the vulgarisation process; when he was not rifling the pension fund he seemed to be chiefly interested in getting a picture of himself in every issue. But in the last few years, under ...

Bobbing Along

Ronald Stevens: The Press Complaints Commission, 7 February 2002

A Press Free and Responsible: Self-Regulation and the Press Complaints Commission 1991-2001 
by Richard Shannon.
Murray, 392 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 6321 6
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... naivety. He did not know that Diana loathed the Palace apparatchiks (including her brother-in-law, Robert Fellowes, who was the Queen’s private secretary). Nor did he know that she cultivated her own contacts with the press, both directly and through her friends. Since he thought Fellowes must enjoy Diana’s confidence, he accepted without question his ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony Howard, 25 January 1996

Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... a predecessor. Nevertheless, to speak of the present Lord Rothermere – or, worse, of Sir Jocelyn Stevens or the late Lord (‘Whelks’) Matthews – in the same tone of voice as Beaverbrook is a substantial affront to natural justice. Fortunately, Griffiths is more generous to the other main agent in the building up of the modern Evening Standard. Charles ...

Lowellship

John Bayley, 17 September 1987

Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry 
edited by Steven Gould Axelrod and Helen Deese.
Cambridge, 377 pp., £17.50, June 1987, 0 571 14979 0
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Collected Prose 
by Robert Lowell, edited and introduced by Robert Giroux.
Faber, 269 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 30872 0
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... If Robert Lowell had not been a Lowell would he ever have had the confidence to write the poems he did? It is impossible to imagine the scion of a distinguished English family using that family now as a basis for poetic composition. But all Lowell’s poems are about being a Lowell, or rather, more specifically, about being this Lowell ...

What became of Modernism?

C.K. Stead, 1 May 1980

Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... are unimaginable without Pound, early Eliot, William Carlos Williams and perhaps Wallace Stevens as forerunners. This is the main stream of modern American poetry. In England the picture is very different. Pound is grudgingly acknowledged, distrusted, kept at a distance. Eliot holds his place, but not the revolutionary Eliot. Eliot didn’t convert ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... Idea of Entropy at Maenporth Beach’ is dedicated to Layard. The title alludes to Wallace Stevens, but as the poem rejoices in enveloping a woman in ‘fat, juicy, incredibly tart muck’, never has Stevens been led in such a strange direction. Slowly she slipped into the muck. It was a white dress, she said, and ...
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered 
by William Pritchard.
Oxford, 186 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 19 503462 7
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... of the First World War, London still beckoned aspiring American poets. Ezra Pound arrived in 1908, Robert Frost in 1912, and T.S. Eliot in 1914. When Pound arrived he was only 23, Eliot was 26, but Frost was almost 39. He had been writing poetry, most of it unpublished, for some twenty years, and the difference in style was striking. Set beside the early work ...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

A Wave 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £4.95, August 1984, 9780856355479
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Secret Narratives 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 46 pp., £6, March 1983, 0 907540 29 5
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Liberty Tree 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 78 pp., £4, June 1983, 0 05 711302 5
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111 Poems 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 85635 457 0
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New and Selected Poems 
by James Michie.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2723 6
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By the Fisheries 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 79 pp., £4, March 1984, 0 224 02154 0
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Voyages 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2736 8
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... The reference to ‘one idea’ recalls the passage in ‘Esthétique du Mal’ where Wallace Stevens dismisses                                      the lunatic of one idea         In a world of ideas, who would have all the people Live, work, suffer and die in that idea In a world of ideas. The cure ...

Asking to Be Looked at

Wayne Koestenbaum, 25 January 1996

Mapplethorpe: A Biography 
by Patricia Morrisroe.
Macmillan, 461 pp., £20, September 1995, 9780333669419
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Playing with the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe 
by Arthur Danto.
California, 206 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 520 20051 9
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... New York’s Guggenheim Museum contains in an annex a covert Robert Mapplethorpe gallery, a sober exhibition space which, like the masterpieces of its namesake, seems consecrated to the unusual and the mortifying. The current show – Joel-Peter Witkin’s photographs of corpses, amputees and hermaphrodites – holds a grotesqueness sufficient to remind the visitor of how sweet, how antique already, the infamous Mapplethorpe images have become ...

Ashamed of the Planet

Ian Hamilton, 2 March 2000

No Other Book: Selected Essays 
by Randall Jarrell, edited by Brad Leithauser.
HarperCollins, 376 pp., $27.50, June 1999, 0 06 118012 2
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Remembering Randall: A Memoir of Poet, Critic and Teacher Randall Jarrell 
by Mary von Schrader Jarrell.
HarperCollins, 173 pp., $22, June 1999, 0 06 118011 4
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... big violet streak of Original Swinburne-with-a-dead-baby’ or dubbed the philosophical Stevens a ‘G.E. Moore at the spinet’, he took it for granted that his arrows would strike home, that there was an audience out there that knew how to echo his own chuckles. In much the same way Jarrell rarely felt the need to labour his recommendations, or to ...

O Harashbery!

C.K. Stead, 23 April 1992

The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara 
edited by Donald Allen.
Carcanet, 233 pp., £18.95, October 1991, 0 85635 939 4
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Flow Chart 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 213 pp., £16.95, September 1991, 0 85635 947 5
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... assistant curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art when Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg were making Action Painting famous; and he and John Ashbery, his friend and contemporary, must have felt their poetry belonged in tandem with that school. O’Hara’s ‘Why I am not a painter’ doesn’t tell us why he is not a painter, but ...

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