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Bloody Horse

Samuel Hynes, 1 December 1983

Roy CampbellA Critical Biography 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 277 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 19 211750 5
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The Selected Poems of Roy Campbell 
edited by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 131 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 9780192119469
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... Roy Campbell has been dead for twenty-five years, and in that time his reputation, such as it was, has faded almost entirely away (I can quote only one of his poems from memory – the epigram on South African novelists that ends ‘But where’s the bloody horse?’). Campbell is one now of that large, sad category, the Neglected Poets, along with many whom, in his day, he despised: Humbert Wolfe, for example, and Vita Sackville-West and Edward Shanks ...

Some Flim-Flam with Socks

Adam Kuper: Laurens van der Post, 3 January 2002

Storyteller: The Many Lives of Laurens van der Post 
by J.D.F. Jones.
Murray, 505 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5580 9
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... whom a legend as man of action was a large part of their stock in trade. The South African poet Roy Campbell, who was a world-class liar, influenced Van der Post at an impressionable age. (‘I have no moral objection to lies,’ the young Van der Post wrote in his diary, but, he added, ‘they must be well done and contain imaginative qualities. ...

Poor Harold

C.H. Sisson, 3 December 1981

Harold Nicolson: A Biography. Vo. II: 1930-1968 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 403 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 7011 2602 7
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... House of Commons. A comic episode Nicolson was less equipped to handle was provided, in 1931, by Roy Campbell, who attacked him, together with a number of other writers in the swim at the time, in his satire The Georgiad. One need have no exaggerated regard for Campbell’s work to feel the unfairness of ...


C.H. Sisson, 27 September 1990

Collected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 475 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 85635 875 4
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... the fact that, in the Thirties, certain Augustan habits had attracted not only Edgell Rickword but Roy Campbell. It is significant, however, that the first poems in this Collected show Davie as under the spell, not of Pope or of any of the other primarily satirical authors of the century, but of William Cowper. A pasticheur of late-Augustan styles, I too ...

Patrician Poverty

Rosemary Hill: Sybille Bedford, 18 August 2005

Quicksands: A Memoir 
by Sybille Bedford.
Hamish Hamilton, 370 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 241 14037 4
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... I stubbornly wanted to last and still long to live again’. In Sanary she met the Huxleys and Roy Campbell and discovered the happiness of place, as she calls it, amid thyme-scented olive terraces, the sea, ‘sun, cicada sounds at night, first amorous pursuits’. Like the Post-Impressionist landscape against which they were played out, the years at ...

Blistering Attacks

Claude Rawson, 6 November 1980

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Oxford, 454 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 19 214110 4
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... poet, and perhaps this is what the tradition eventually narrowed down to. Jonson and more recently Roy Campbell are on record as threatening to destroy some fellow poets – in the latter case, better ones – who all survived. Mr Grigson does not print any of this, but his anthology reveals, a bit depressingly, how much the satire of poets has been ...

Van der Posture

J.D.F. Jones, 3 February 1983

Yet Being Someone Other 
by Laurens van der Post.
Hogarth, 352 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 7012 1900 9
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... that means.) These were the Durban days of Voorslag, a literary journal edited for a short time by Roy Campbell and William Plomer, which has today assumed a disproportionate role in the mythology of South African literature. The fact is that it survived only for a few months and van der Post’s connection was surely minor; he was scarcely 20 at the time ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... author of that remarkable first novel about South Africa, Turbott Wolfe. His fellow-countryman Roy Campbell praised his achievement in a poem of the time: Plomer, ’twas you who, though a boy in age, Awoke a sleepy continent to rage, Who dared alone to thrash a craven race And hold a mirror to its dirty face. His voice was described by Charles ...

Top Grumpy’s Top Hate

Robert Irwin: Richard Aldington’s Gripes, 18 February 1999

Richard Aldington and Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale 
by Fred Crawford.
Southern Illinois, 265 pp., £31.95, July 1998, 0 8093 2166 1
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Lawrence the Uncrowned King of Arabia 
by Michael Asher.
Viking, 419 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87029 3
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... Aldington was a determined outsider, like Henry Williamson and like his friends, Wyndham Lewis and Roy Campbell. They were all writers who were never quite fashionable in their own lifetimes and not likely to be in the future. All of them held cantankerous, right-wing opinions. There were aspects of Fascism which Aldington admired and he was complacently ...

Two Ediths and a Hermit

Raleigh Trevelyan, 5 September 1985

... Glendinning’s biography, that the tragedies for Edith Sitwell in 1957 were the deaths of Roy Campbell and Pavel Tchelitchew. The book she was trying to finish would have been the one eventually published as The Queens and the Hive. She was worried about money at the time, so my mention of the other Edith had touched an especially sore ...


Patrick Parrinder, 9 February 1995

The Sin of Father Amaro 
by Eça de Queirós, translated by Nan Flanagan.
Carcanet, 352 pp., £14.95, August 1994, 1 85754 101 4
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The City and the Mountains 
by Eça de Queirós, translated by Roy Campbell.
Carcanet, 217 pp., £14.95, August 1994, 1 85754 102 2
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... Like his elder contemporary Henry James, Eça de Queirós belongs to the small and distinguished group of 19th-century novelists who wrote in exile. He was born in 1845 in a remote town of northern Portugal, but spent most of his working life in England and France. He liked to maintain that his novels were fundamentally French, and that he himself was French in everything but his fondness for ballad-singers and cod with onions ...


Christopher Tayler: Muriel Spark’s Essays, 25 September 2014

The Golden Fleece: Essays 
by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine.
Carcanet, 226 pp., £16.99, March 2014, 978 1 84777 251 0
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... shape: a scene peopled by Apocalyptic and Neo-Romantic poetasters, mostly, with Edith Sitwell and Roy Campbell as potential allies, Geoffrey Grigson lurking threateningly in the wings and T.S. Eliot a very distant god. The former Muriel Camberg joined this cast in 1944 after a stint in southern Africa, where she’d ended a short marriage to the unstable ...

A Spanish girl is a volcano

John Pemble: Apostles in Gibraltar, 10 September 2015

John Kemble’s Gibraltar Journal: The Spanish Expedition of the Cambridge Apostles, 1830-31 
by Eric Nye.
Macmillan, 416 pp., £100, January 2015, 978 1 137 38446 1
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... hated the clichés and party-line posturing, and dismissed the pamphlet as ‘bloody rot’. Roy Campbell jeered at the Republicans: ‘The sodomites are on your side;/The cowards and the cranks.’ Ezra Pound said the enemy wasn’t Franco, but big-time international finance: ‘You are all had. Spain is an emotional luxury to a gang of sap-headed ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Roy Lichtenstein, 18 March 2004

... installation currently give the Hayward Gallery an of-our-own-time presence. But the paintings by Roy Lichtenstein which line the walls – the early ones anyway – are now so well established as an ironic commentary on pop culture that they read as decoration, as conventional and period-flavoured in their way as chintz.* The general effect of the show is ...

Le Roi Jean Quinze

Stefan Collini: Roy Jenkins and Labour, 5 June 2014

Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, March 2014, 978 0 224 08750 6
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... released instead into the free upper air where good arguments are sovereign. It was the fate of Roy Jenkins more than of any other recent figure in British politics to serve, during his life and in some ways since his death in 2003, as the incarnation of these dreams. Over and above his actual achievements and failures, Jenkins carried the burden of ...

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