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Robert Blake, 18 December 1980

Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... coincides with that of a condensed version of Nicolson’s diaries 1939-64, skilfully edited by Stanley Olson. The original diary preserved in Balliol College runs to three million words. In 1966-68 Nigel Nicolson produced a three-volume edition based partly on the diaries and partly on his father’s correspondence. He used only a twentieth of the ...

Dame Cissie

Penelope Fitzgerald, 12 November 1987

Rebecca West: A Life 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 297 79084 6
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Family Memories 
by Rebecca West and Faith Evans.
Virago, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86068 741 4
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... It is a fine biography, which for several reasons can’t have been easy to write. To start with, Stanley Olson, who became a friend of Dame Rebecca’s in 1974, was entrusted with the full-length Life. To conform with this, Victoria Glendinning decided to cut down on the later years. Rebecca lived to be 90, and the elision somewhat weakens the sense of ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... man who lives in Warren Street settles in his duck blind. Four men stand like empties outside the Stanley Employment Agency. A television set left on in a shop tips its huge alphabet into the street. It is not speech but the parts of speech. Likeness joins what was separate, then the unwanted information pours in; a surd, a swarm …O’Brien’s city ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder, 24 May 2012

... with anecdotal letters, discussions of craft and influence. When Welch corresponded with Charles Olson, on the East Coast, he told him that he had ‘finally taken to the woods, I hope for ever’. Like Snyder, he kept a gun. There was a bad moment when his companion in solitude, a cat called Stanley, dragged itself back ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate, 20 March 2003

All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... as proposed by the geographer Carl Sauer (a great favourite of that poet of place Charles Olson). Sauer, like Seabrook, deals in awkward particulars, grit under the eyelid. Areal is what you finish up with when there’s no way out, economically, emotionally, spiritually – with Connex and Railtrack operating the only escape chute. With Quatermass ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... Crozier’s Ferry Press, Ackroyd knew more than enough about the glittering particulars of Charles Olson and William Carlos Williams to give them their due, while gliding effortlessly in another direction. One of the characters in The Great Fire of London calms his rising panic by swimming lap after lap in a neighbourhood pool, a facility conscious of its ...

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