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6 November 1980
Politics in Renaissance Venice 
by Robert Finlay.
Benn, 336 pp., £13.95, June 1980, 0 510 00085 1
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... in the last twenty years or so. Was it true? What was the reality of 16th-century Venetian politics? There have been many short surveys, but no serious study of this important subject until Professor RobertFinlay’s new book. Political historians have preferred to study Florence, partly, perhaps, because the Florentines were always changing their constitution (Dante compared the city to an invalid in ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay

4 December 2014
Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay​ to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... Writing​ to his friend Stephen Bann, then a graduate student, in 1964, Ian Hamilton Finlay outlined his plans to treat readers of his brash new journal, Poor. Old. Tired. Horse, to a free lollipop, sellotaped to the magazine’s cover. Like many of his plans from this period it came to ...

Nairn is best

Neal Ascherson

21 May 1987
Nairn: In Darkness and Light 
by David Thomson.
Hutchinson, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 09 168360 2
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... a mildly celebrated place of retirement and resort. As McGonagall put it, in conclusion I will say for good bathing Nairn is best And besides its pleasant scenery is of historical interest. The Finlay family, to which David Thomson’s mother belonged, was very grand and patriarchal. The patriarch, ‘Uncle Robert’, was Viscount Finlay of Nairn who had been a Liberal MP with Gladstone, Lord ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’

2 April 2014
... it was possible to create new, apparently ruined structures that would be understood as acts of protest or comment. One of the most famous, the Gothic Temple at Stowe, was built as a critique of Robert Walpole’s regime. While the exhibition makes reference to these buildings, it writes them off as ‘fakes’. In fact their polemical potential was long-lived and in the last century the greatest ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner

26 September 2019
Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... second wedding in 1965. He wrote reviews and critical articles for the magazine and served as its poetry editor in the early 1960s. It must have seemed strange to read the poetry of Pound, Williams, Robert Duncan, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Robert Creeley and Louis Zukofsky in a right-wing political journal. ‘Don’t worry about the Birch boys,’ Kenner wrote to Davenport in 1961, trying to persuade him ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert​ Crawford

10 November 1988
MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... climate. Alan Bold’s book passes very quickly over MacDiarmid’s poetically barren last twenty years. There is no mention, for instance, of those quarrels with younger writers such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, and the Edwin Morgan who is in some ways MacDiarmid’s literary heir. It does seem untrue to say that ‘as for MacDiarmid’s legacy, it has to be confined to his own achievement.’ MacDiarmid ...

Cut-Ups

Robert​ Crawford

7 December 1989
Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... for these that one begins to sympathise with them, wishing they might write to him: ‘Dear Mr Reading, FUCK OFF. Yrs, The Plashy Fen School.’ But they don’t. Like the independent Ian Hamilton Finlay, and like Geoffrey Hill, to whom the early Reading of such phrasing as ‘congregations/are still here mulched into the cider orchard’ pays his dues, this is a poet who likes to investigate the ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie

7 March 1985
The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert​ Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... on inequalities that cannot be argued away. This carries over into his literary judgments, and means that if you scratched his back, he was under no obligation to scratch yours: Edwin Morgan, Robert Garioch and Ian Hamilton Finlay are three Scottish poets whose work he dismisses where he might have been expected, if only for tactical reasons, to approve it. It is the same with Scottish ...

Toss the monkey wrench

August Kleinzahler: Lee Harwood’s risky poems

19 May 2005
Collected Poems 
by Lee Harwood.
Shearsman, 522 pp., £17.95, May 2004, 9780907562405
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... Fulcrum published three volumes each by Edward Dorn and Gary Snyder, the early work, which has proved to be their best and most enduring. Fulcrum also published two important early collections by Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg’s Ankor Wat and, most significantly, two volumes by Lorine Niedecker, North Central and My Life by Water, and George Oppen’s Collected Poetry. Of British poets, apart from ...

Best Remain Seated

Jeremy Harding: Travel guides

1 January 1998
Kenya 
by Hugh Finlay and Geoff Crowther.
Lonely Planet, 376 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 86442 460 4
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Borneo 
by Robert​ Pelton Young.
Fielding, 632 pp., £13.95, December 1995, 1 56952 026 7
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Asia's Top Dive Sites 
edited by Fiona Nichols and Michael Stachels.
Fielding, 228 pp., £13.95, December 1996, 1 56952 129 8
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Jon Murray et al.
Lonely Planet, 658 pp., £13.99, January 1998, 0 86442 508 2
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Southern Africa 
by Richard Cox.
Thornton Cox, 474 pp., £11.95, July 1995, 0 7818 0388 8
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The World's Most Dangerous Places 
by Robert​ Pelton Young.
Fielding, 1048 pp., £13.95, December 1997, 1 56952 104 2
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Barbara McCrea et al.
Rough Guides, 697 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85828 238 1
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The Good Honeymoon Guide 
by Lucy Horne.
Trailblazer, 320 pp., £11.95, March 1997, 1 873756 12 7
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Amnesty International Report 1997 
Amnesty International, 378 pp., £18, June 1997, 0 86210 267 7Show More
Morocco 
by Barnaby Rogerson.
Cadogan, 596 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 1 86011 043 6
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... mistaken for exhilaration, and there are those who swear by it. To the authors and editors of the Fielding guides, danger and discomfort are paramount. Borneo, written by the imprint’s publisher, Robert Pelton Young, describes itself as one of ‘a series of guides on remote regions for adventurers by adventurers’ and begins with a taste of what may lie in store for the user: I am squatting in a ...

After the Referendum

LRB Contributors

8 October 2014
... brought me the blogs and pictures, cartoons, arguments, discussion and outrage that kept us all ablaze these last few weeks and months. Bella Caledonia, Wee Ginger Dug, Rev. Stuart Campbell, Alec Finlay, Wheelie Bins for Yes – a cataract of stuff. God knows, in my hours online I wandered down some peculiar byways (the Spectator comments pages). The Better Together ‘Patronising Lady’ advert ...

The New Lloyd’s

Peter Campbell

24 July 1986
Richard Rogers 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 271 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13976 0
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A Concrete Atlantis 
by Reyner Banham.
MIT, 265 pp., £16.50, June 1986, 0 262 02244 3
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William Richard Lethaby 
by Godfrey Rubens.
Architectural Press, 320 pp., £30, April 1986, 0 85139 350 0
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... while Rogers brought out every gun they had, including Piano (to quash the perfectly sound rumour that the partnership was breaking up) and Jack Zunz, chairman of Arups. During the discussions Ian Finlay, the Deputy Chairman of Lloyd’s, met Marco Goldschmied, a partner in the practice, in the washroom. He asked if Rogers would give them something that looked like the Beaubourg. Goldschmied said no ...
6 April 1995
Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... hijack his powers of discrimination? I’m not sure. It might simply be that while his arguments were often strong, his taste, whenever it took off on its own – the early enthusiasms for Robert Natkin, the later advocacy of Arthur Boyd – was unerringly awful. Either way, it hardly strengthened his cause. Take another critical position, more independent but more desperate. This critic is ...

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