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Coaxing and Seducing

Richard Jenkyns: Lucretius, 3 September 1998

Lucretius: ‘On the Nature of the Universe’ 
translated by Ronald Melville.
Oxford, 275 pp., £45, November 1998, 0 19 815097 0
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... really is the message. And for the same reason a translation, too, needs to be in verse. The Melville version, which comes accompanied by an excellent Introduction by Don and Peta Fowler, is the work of two hands. A.D. Melville, admired for his translations of Ovid and Statius, had completed a draft of almost a third ...

That’s America

Stephen Greenblatt, 29 September 1988

Ronald Reagan’, the Movie, and Other Episodes in Political Demonology 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 366 pp., £19.95, April 1987, 0 520 05937 9
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... he sees, where his penis should be, what is called a ‘glamour’. Under Nancy’s adoring gaze, Ronald Reagan’s valedictory address at the Republican National Convention was a glamorous performance. But at one point, trying to reproach the Democrats with John Adams’s phrase ‘Facts are stubborn things,’ he slipped and declared instead: ‘Facts are ...

With Slip and Slapdash

Frank Kermode: Auden’s Prose, 7 February 2008

TheComplete Works of W.H. Auden. Vol. III: Prose, 1949-55 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 779 pp., £29.95, December 2007, 978 0 691 13326 3
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... Blake and The Hunting of the Snark, with a rather chilly mandarin commentary. Its hero is the Melville of Moby-Dick and Billy Budd, and its theme is ‘the nature of Romanticism through an examination of its treatment of a single theme, the sea’. Melville provides the central examples, though the sea’s opposite, the ...

America is back

Alan Brinkley, 1 November 1984

... Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale have presented the American electorate with as clear an ideological choice as any set of Presidential candidates in the 20th century. The two men disagree fundamentally on their prescriptions for the economy, their approaches to national defence, their views of foreign policy, their stances on social issues ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... of European forms’ but sterile imitators of those forms. To argue that Donald Barthelme, Ronald Sukenick, William Gaddis and company belong to some contemporary American avant-garde is to rationalise the fact that they have no audience. Karl cites as instances of writers misunderstood in their day the case of ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... Wayne was in one of them. Orange County is in Southern California, home of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, of Hollywood, Disneyland and John Wayne. Nixon would have lost his home state and the White House in 1968 without his Southern California support. At the 1984 Republican Convention, Reagan, our second Southern California President, was the ...

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Hugh Barnes, 21 February 1985

So Much Love 
by Beryl Reid.
Hutchinson, 195 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 09 155730 5
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Knock wood 
by Candice Bergen.
Hamish Hamilton, 223 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780241113585
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... it is describing these years. The list of names here, from Val Parnell to Peter Brough, from Alan Melville to Jimmy Edwards, reads like a history of British Variety. Even then, unconsciously a student of Method, she would dress up in gymslip and boater, catapult in hand, to do Monica for the wireless. She went to Hollywood for the first time in the ...

In Memory of Michael Rogin

Stephen Greenblatt, 3 January 2002

... and McCarthy: The Radical Spectre (1967), to his astonishing psychobiography of Herman Melville, Subversive Genealogy (1983), to Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot (1996), Rogin’s writing was driven by the desire to expose hidden histories. He sought to burrow deeply into the strata where psychic fantasy and ...

Ediepus

Michael Neve, 18 November 1982

Edie: An American Biography 
by Jean Stein and George Plimpton.
Cape, 455 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 224 02068 4
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself 
by Jan Kerouac.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 233 97487 3
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... Norman Rockwell, the people’s artist, who gave Middle America what it wanted. Stockbridge, where Melville said something unmemorable to Hawthorne. Stockbridge, the site of the family grave – known, weirdly, as ‘the Pie’ – of the Sedgwick family. It is the history of the Sedgwick family that makes up Edie, a best-seller in the United ...
Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction 
by Philip Fisher.
Harvard, 290 pp., £18.50, May 1999, 0 674 83859 9
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... extensively on realist prose and painting, and his new book is a commentary on Emerson, Whitman, Melville, James and Twain, among others, with significant asides on Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer. It aims to look freshly at these artists and to ask again why their originality matters. Names like Stevens, Eliot and Ashbery are frequently dropped and ...

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