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Two Poems

Robert Crawford

15 September 1988
... antique metal footplate Powering the needle through its regular lines, Doing her work. To me as a young boy That was her typewriter. I’d watch Her hands and feet in unison, or read Between her calves the clear wrought-iron letters: SINGER. Mass-produced polished wood and metal, It was a powerful instrument. I stared Hard at its brilliant needle’s eye that ...

Three poems

Robert Crawford

29 November 2001
... also Fell leading men in charge at Waterloo. Now writes bestselling adult cookbooks, You’re Only Young Once! I could reach inside him Where he sits still, a matted fur yeti, And snatch out his other heart, a silver ball. St Andrews I love how it comes right out of the blue North Sea edge, sunstruck with oystercatchers. A bull’s-eye centred at the outer ...

Two Poems

Robert VanderMolen

21 June 2001
... drawer A leeking vial of something Like lubricant Associations How our mothers appeared When young, a wonderment The dressings of time, Unscrolling bark of birch And what was invented For our protection, kicking A curb after church, a pearly Sky * This hero needs discipline Or no one will love him Do I need so many critics? Where’s the distance The ...
17 September 1987
The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation 
by Hayden White.
Johns Hopkins, 248 pp., £20.80, May 1987, 0 8018 2937 2
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Post-Structuralism and the Question of History 
edited by Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington and Robert Young.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 32759 8
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... In publishing his compendious work Metahistory in 1973, Hayden White gave currency both to a term and to a programme. His subtitle, ‘The Historical Imagination in 19th-Century Europe’, indicated the broad area of his investigations, but gave little sense of the radical originality of this programme, which was quite simply the re-examination of historiography in its written form ...


Terry Eagleton

20 June 1996
States of Fantasy 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Oxford, 183 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 19 818280 5
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... a sort of spiritual disability and literature begins at Calais. One good reason for this is that a younger generation of critics has spurned the chauvinism which once made Bunyan as much an arm of empire as the Boy Scouts. Another, more dodgy, reason has to do with the political paralysis of the British Left. Before Thatcher, radical critics in Britain could ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov

24 September 2014
Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... is the way Levertov recalled her childhood six decades after the fact. She was born in 1923, the youngest daughter of two ‘exotic birds in the plain English coppice of Ilford’. Her mother, Beatrice, was orphaned at 12 and set off in her twenties to teach at a Scottish mission school in Constantinople. Her father, born to a prosperous Jewish family in ...

Dead Cats and Fungi

Robert Taubman

20 March 1980
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 255 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 340 24565 4
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The Mirror of the Giant 
by Penelope Shuttle.
Marion Boyars, 165 pp., £5.95, January 1980, 0 7145 2679 7
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Another Part of the Wood 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 7156 1458 4
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Wild Oats 
by Jacob Epstein.
Alison Press/Secker, 267 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 436 14826 9
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In the Secret State 
by Robert McCrum.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £5.95, February 1980, 0 241 10322 3
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... and they had all been found wanting.’ Joseph forgets his promise to climb the mountain with his young son, his girlfriend Dotty walks out, there are two chilling episodes of sudden illness, the boy ignorantly kills himself. They talk or quarrel over Monopoly, they fail to know themselves, or others – or to form a group or even notice their isolation. Some ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns

25 July 2002
Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... Aberdeen philosopher Thomas Blackwell was writing that Homer was a ‘stroling indigent Bard’. Robert Burns liked that idea. In ‘Love and Liberty’ a bard sings alongside prostitutes and tinkers, and pronounces himself ‘Homer like’. Burns’s footnote (Burns enjoyed footnotes) points out cheekily that ‘Homer is allowed to be the oldest ...
3 October 1985
... far from being the preferred thoughts of their white rulers. Africans, particularly those who are young and underemployed or unemployed, are alienated from the state, from their more moderate leaders, and from any institutional constraints on the immediate attaining of freedom. Although they may now only be climbing the Potemkin steps, after a year of ...

Lithe Pale Girls

Robert Crawford: Richard Aldington

22 January 2015
Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier and Lover 1911-29 
by Vivien Whelpton.
Lutterworth, 414 pp., £30, January 2015, 978 0 7188 9318 7
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... lover too. They fell in love while translating ancient Greek. Aldington, at 19, was too young for a ticket to the Reading Room of the British Museum. Doolittle, who was 25, sat under the imposing dome, transcribing Greek materials. The two young poet-translators met daily, trying to make versions of verse from the ...

Men at Sea

Robert Taubman

6 November 1980
Rites of Passage 
by William Golding.
Faber, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 571 11639 6
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... primary material, as it were, is very nearly the substance and whole of it. This is the journal of young Edmund Talbot on the first part of a voyage to Australia in the early 19th century: that is all, apart from a letter from the Reverend Robert James Colley to his sister, purloined by Talbot and pasted into the ...
20 November 1986
by Jerry Hopkins.
Elm Tree, 275 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11548 5
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Alias David Bowie 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Hodder, 511 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 340 36806 3
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... David Robert Jones, alias David Bowie, is now in his 40th year. His creepy, chilling phrases pop out of pub jukeboxes, and extracts from his movies catch the eye on pub videos, whether he is embracing a Chinese girl or being executed by Japanese soldiers; his image appears in the Sunday-paper magazines, artistically displayed in sundry poses ...
20 October 1983
Sure and Stedfast: A History of the Boys’ Brigade, 1883-1984 
edited by John Springhall.
Collins, 304 pp., £10, June 1983, 0 00 434280 1
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... no doubt partly because birth control was now making children more scarce. The 1880s also saw Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, not to mention the remarkable growth of the Boys’ Own Paper. And not only was literature being specially produced for children: children were at last being seen as ...

The Other Half

Robert Melville

4 July 1985
Kenneth Clark: A Biography 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 9780297783985
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... Suddenly I thought: ‘My God, he’s going to speak to me!’ ‘Am I right in thinking you’re Robert Melville?’ he said. ‘My name is Clark.’ ‘Indisputably, Sir Kenneth,’ I answered. I remember the word I used, because as soon as I said it I realised that it was ludicrously inappropriate. And I went on quickly: ‘It’s a fine Pasmore, isn’t ...
18 October 1984
Lord Liverpool: The Life and Political Career of Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770-1828 
by Norman Gash.
Weidenfeld, 265 pp., £16.95, August 1984, 0 297 78453 6
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... the current prime minister to overcome his father’s opposition to his marriage? The answer is Robert Jenkinson, second Earl of Liverpool and eighth baronet, whose maternal grandmother, wife of a Nabob, was Eurasian. He is one of the neglected figures of history. Yet he was prime minister for 15 years from 1812 to 1827, till in February at the age of 56 he ...

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