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Angry Waves

C.H. Sisson, 18 December 1986

Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai 
translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell.
Viking, 173 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 670 81454 7
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Hurricane Lamp 
by Turner Cassity.
Chicago, 68 pp., £12.75, May 1986, 0 226 09614 9
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Wells.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, September 1986, 0 85635 669 7
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... which pays is the kind which submits itself entirely to the poetic process. The Selected Poems of Robert Wells also give the impression of having been carefully worked over, but he is not plagued with quirkiness or ingenuity, as Cassity seems often to be. In his poems the sensible world matters for its own sake rather than for the sake of any notions ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... they were tussling with, A. Alvarez’s The New Poetry (which was tussling with its predecessor, Robert Conquest’s New Lines). ‘This anthology,’ they wrote in their preface to the Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry, ‘is intended to be didactic as well as representative.’ Though the things anthologies make happen may be confined to ...

Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit

Robert Crawford, 19 July 2001

... The car stalled. That coachbuilder with Alexander’s Buses, Spare-time diviner, dowser for lost wells and oak roots, Revved the engine, stalled the Beetle again Side-on in front of two great racing lorries. All five of us, inside our billiard ball, Unlearned language, trapped in a single breath’s Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison Watching those wall-cabbed ...

Counter-Factuals

Linda Colley, 1 November 1984

The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism 
edited by Margaret Jacob and James Jacob.
Allen and Unwin, 333 pp., £18.50, February 1984, 0 04 909015 1
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Insurrection: The British Experience 1795-1803 
by Roger Wells.
Alan Sutton, 312 pp., £16, May 1983, 9780862990190
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Radicalism and Freethought in 19th-Century Britain 
by Joel Wiener.
Greenwood, 285 pp., $29.95, March 1983, 0 313 23532 5
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For King, Constitution and Country: The English Loyalists and the French Revolution 
by Robert Dozier.
Kentucky, 213 pp., £20.90, February 1984, 9780813114903
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... obligation to study past radicalism felt by many socialist historians, and (to borrow one of Roger Wells’s more charitable epithets) ‘what passes for liberal historians’, seems only to have been intensified by resurgent conservatism on both sides of the Atlantic. Thus, according to its publisher’s blurb, the Jacobs’ volume is designed to celebrate ...

‘Hell, yes’

J. Robert Lennon: The Osage Murders, 4 October 2017

Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI 
by David Grann.
Simon & Schuster, 338 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 85720 902 3
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... was soon drained of oil, and their towns and villages of money. Today, only so-called ‘stripper wells’ remain, producing negligible amounts of crude and providing the few Osage who still hold headrights with a minimal income. The gambling industry is the closest thing to a boom that Osage County has experienced in recent years; seven casinos provide the ...

Mecca Bound

Robert Irwin, 21 July 1994

The Hajj: Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places 
by F.E. Peters.
Princeton, 399 pp., £19.95, July 1994, 0 691 02120 1
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Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj under the Ottomans 
by Suraiya Faroqhi.
Tauris, 244 pp., £34.50, May 1994, 1 85043 606 1
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The Hadj: A Pilgrimage to Mecca 
by Michael Wolfe.
Secker, 331 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 436 58404 2
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... In the section of The Anatomy of Melancholy devoted to the perils of religious enthusiasm, Robert Burton pauses briefly to comment on the complex and meritorious rituals of the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca: their fastings, their running till they sweat, their long prayers, Mahomets temple, tombe, and building of it, would aske a whole volume to dilate: and for their paines taken in this holy pilgrimage, all their sins are forgiven, and they are reputed so many saints ...

Buckle Up!

Tim Barker: Oil Prices, 31 May 2017

Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices 
by Robert McNally.
Columbia, 300 pp., £27.95, January 2017, 978 0 231 17814 3
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... When​ Donald Trump nominated Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, as secretary of state, Robert McNally found the choice unremarkable. ‘The closest thing we have to a secretary of state outside government is the CEO of Exxon,’ he said. McNally is an energy consultant, a former adviser to George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, and a member of the National Petroleum Council ...

Lucky Moments

Robert Bernard Martin, 1 April 1983

Spirit of Wit: Reconsiderations of Rochester 
edited by Jeremy Treglown.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £14, September 1982, 0 631 12897 2
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... elsewhere implies something like admiration for his more deliberate effects. In ‘Tunbridge Wells’ Rochester echoes the dramatist’s Epsom Wells, in both situation and character, in closer detail than has been noticed previously. Selden finds the allusions ‘a tribute to Shadwell’s naturalistic vigour’, and ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... half the entire investment of the Church. Their principal agent in this endeavour was William Wells of Chesterton’s, the blue-blooded estate agents. Sir Douglas Lovelock described Wells to Lovell as ‘a man of total integrity who thought he was, and sometimes was, bringing to the Church very good opportunities for ...

Paying for the paper

Robert Alter, 6 August 1992

Life with a Star 
by Jiri Weil, translated by Rita Klimova and Roslyn Schloss.
Flamingo, 247 pp., £4.99, February 1991, 0 00 654329 4
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Mendelssohn is on the Roof 
by Jiri Weil, translated by Marie Winn.
HarperCollins, 228 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 00 223863 2
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... at the Prague Jewish cemetery: “ ‘What’s left for us?” I asked. “Only time,” said Robert. “But there’s not much of it.” ’ Indiscriminate murder of civilian populations is, alas, at least as old as recorded history. What differentiates the modern German version, as has often been observed, is its implementation through industrial ...

Not a Belonger

Colin Jones, 21 August 1997

The End of the Line: A Memoir 
by Richard Cobb.
Murray, 229 pp., £20, June 1997, 0 7195 5460 8
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... his works of scholarship spilled out into fragmentary memoirs, in which he recounted a Tunbridge Wells childhood, a youthful infatuation with France, war-time service in the Army and an early career teaching English in postwar France as a way of financing time spent in the Archives Nationales and countless provincial depositories. The episodes recounted in ...

Do Not Fool Around

E.S. Turner, 24 November 1994

A Passion for Wings: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1908-1918 
by Robert Wohl.
Yale, 320 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 300 05778 4
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... French vers, or lines). It seems the poems still lie in a musty box in the archives. Robert Wohl, who teaches European intellectual and cultural history at the University of Los Angeles, does not say whether he rummaged through that musty box, but he has turned up many a fascinating source for his book. His purpose is to remind us of the tangled ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist, 5 June 2003

... Dia now also oversees the mother of all earthworks, Spiral Jetty, a great coil of rocks built by Robert Smithson into the Great Salt Lake in Utah in 1970. Initially directed by Heiner Friedrich, a German dealer who had exhibited such artists in Cologne and in New York, Dia was funded by his wife, Philippa de Menil, daughter of Dominique de Menil, a major ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... Surely this is neither fine writing nor plain writing, but just bad writing? But if Kipling or Wells might in their own ways have done Erewhon better, and E.M. Forster The Way of All Flesh, that does not affect Butler’s influence and individuality, his power to create himself as ‘master of his life’. It is significant that Virginia Woolf’s praise ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... were resettled in a ‘model’ village along with their forebears’ gravestones. By contrast Robert Macfarlane’s accounts are nothing if not first-hand. He is a literary scholar who has spent many hundreds of hours walking in England and the Scottish Highlands, in Spain, Palestine and Tibet. His aim here is to describe some of his most memorable ...

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