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A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

A Martian sends a postcard home 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 46 pp., £2.95
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Arcadia 
by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 50 pp., £2.75
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Love-Life 
by Hugo Williams.
Whizzard Press/Deutsch, 40 pp., £2.95
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A Faust Book 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.25, September 1979, 0 19 211895 1
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Time 
by Yehuda Amichai.
Oxford, 88 pp., £3.50
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... steps, to find the remains of the Helmores and bury them. ‘In the beginning was the Word’ – Roger read from Helmore’s Bible found open at St John. Isabella moved her lips, ‘The Word was Manchester.’ Shh, shh, the shovel said. Shh … This final passage suggests many things: that Isabella will shortly crack up, that she is beginning to hate ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... in 1908, is given as much consideration as Pound’s other early friend William Carlos Williams; Marianne Moore, who matriculated at Bryn Mawr in the same year as H.D., is barely mentioned. Snippets of truly mediocre poetry by Lowell, Flint, Fletcher et al sit cheek by jowl with the masterly experiments of Pound and H.D. For all the joie de vivre ...

On Hating and Despising Philosophy

Bernard Williams, 18 April 1996

... technical and inaccessible. This is the sort of attitude which was expressed in a recent review by Roger Scruton,* who is, among other things, a philosopher, and certainly does not think that he despises philosophy as such. He claimed that philosophy should ‘say something useful to the ordinary person’, and should give him ‘help in confronting the moral ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley, 8 February 2001

Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... shedding some members and adding others, before finally disintegrating when Shelley and Edward Williams were drowned off Leghorn in July 1822. Shortly thereafter, Byron and Trelawny embarked for Greece, Mary Shelley’s troubled and troubling step-sister Claire Clairmont departed to become a governess in Russia, and in 1823 Mary and her last surviving ...

What are we at war about?

Isaac Land: Nelson the Populist, 1 December 2005

The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson 
by Roger Knight.
Allen Lane, 874 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 7139 9619 6
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Admiral Lord Nelson: Context and Legacy 
edited by David Cannadine.
Palgrave, 201 pp., £19.99, June 2005, 1 4039 3906 3
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... sea itself seems to wear a different and diminished aspect from the sea of Lord Nelson’s day.’ Roger Knight’s life of Nelson is almost fifty times as long as Conrad’s centenary essay (excluding the appendices, which take up more than a hundred additional pages), but readers may nevertheless conclude that biography too is ‘different and ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord, 24 June 2010

... in the parish of St Giles without Cripplegate, and a woman from Whitechapel called Frances Williams. The charge was fornication. Though not in itself unusual, the charge had an extra twist, repeated with minor variations in most of the entries relating to it: ‘they were all 4 seene in bed together at one tyme.’ The documentation is scanty, and we ...

Short Cuts

Francis FitzGibbon: Locking On, 10 February 2022

... not a civil one, however, and carries a term of imprisonment.The Conservative minister Lady Williams told the House of Lords that these provisions were aimed at ‘the sorts of tactic we saw from Insulate Britain last autumn’ (when they blocked the M25 and other major roads). We can trust the police to enforce them proportionately, she ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... your twenties, facing Sampras or Philippoussis or Ivanisevic, or even Navratilova, Hingis or Venus Williams: can’t be done, no way at all even of being on the same court, much less hitting their balls back. Two decades ago, wooden rackets were replaced by high-tech instruments engineered to the utmost in hitting efficiency, and daily restrung, for ever more ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban, 23 July 1987

Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... they mean Robert Lowell, or Allen Ginsberg, or the Black Mountain imitators of William Carlos Williams. ‘The Liverpool Poets’ are regarded with a mixture of fear and derision. ‘The ranks of the illiterate raise puerile and rhythmless voices,’ wrote Roy Fuller. ‘Infantile simplicity is all,’ wrote Julian Symons.What no one in the symposium ...

Anti-Anti-Racism

Ann Dummett, 9 July 1987

Anti-Racism: An Assault on Education and Value 
edited by Frank Palmer.
Sherwood, 210 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 907671 26 8
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The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain 
by Ron Ramdin.
Gower, 626 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 566 00943 9
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... they may all be opposed to racism, but they have different ideas about how to overcome it. Joe Williams, a black councillor in Reading who has been a forthright campaigner for racial equality for many years, recently opposed a council proposal to spend money on racism-awareness training. There was some bewilderment among white councillors. How could a ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... poet with atrophied tastes, he can expect a commission to do something tasteful on Glynn Williams. The Commander has become the ashy residue of Neo-Romanticism, out there in the Fens, a John Piper with backbone, silhouetted against lowering skies, fretting to escape the inconvenience of some vulgar stiff and get at those rough flint churches. Philip ...

The Way of the Warrior

Tom Shippey: Vikings, 3 April 2014

Vikings: Life and Legend 
edited by Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz and Matthias Wernhoff.
British Museum, 288 pp., £25, February 2014, 978 0 7141 2337 0
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The Northmen’s Fury 
by Philip Parker.
Cape, 450 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 0 224 09080 3
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... liturgical cup, arm rings and what’s called ‘hack silver’. Sunhild Kleingärtner and Gareth Williams carefully point out in the accompanying text that the hoard represents ‘long-distance trade … gift-giving and social exchange’, but it looks a lot like loot. Its owner never came back for it. What happened to him? Some believe the far larger ...

Secret-Keeping

Rosemarie Bodenheimer: Elizabeth Gaskell, 16 August 2007

The Works of Elizabeth Gaskell 
edited by Joanne Shattock et al.
Pickering & Chatto, 4716 pp., £900, May 2006, 9781851967773
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... a charming woman who wrote wry nostalgic sketches to a major figure in Victorian studies. Raymond Williams jump-started this re-evaluation in 1958, when he described her first novel, Mary Barton, as ‘the most moving response in literature to the industrial suffering of the 1840s’. Although Williams went on to complain ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... eminence of the Times. The first woman doctor is kept company by the first woman barrister, Ivy Williams. The first private to win a field-marshal’s baton, Sir William Robertson, is missing. Billy Smart, the circus proprietor, is in, though not Sir Alan Cobham, whose private air force introduced millions to flying, or Sir Donald Wolfit. Tom Webster, the ...

Misling

Hilary Putnam, 21 April 1988

Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary 
by W.V. Quine.
Harvard, 249 pp., £15.95, November 1987, 0 674 74351 2
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Quine 
by Christopher Hookway.
Polity, 227 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 07 456175 8
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... who grasp mine. But mere acknowledgment, however sincere – ‘I dig you,’ or ‘I read you. Roger and over’ – is not conclusive evidence of successful communication. The Latin pupil gets low marks who says: ‘Oh, I know what it means but I can’t quite put it into words.’ In spite of the immense range of subjects that Quine covers, there are ...

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