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Ever so comfy

James Wood, 24 March 1994

Collected Poems 1953-1993 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 241 00167 6
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Dante’s Drum-Kit 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 145 pp., £6.99, November 1993, 0 571 17055 2
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Old Men and Comets 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, November 1994, 0 19 283176 3
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Plato’s Ladder 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 79 pp., £6.99, November 1992, 0 19 282986 6
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The Country at My Shoulder 
by Moniza Alvi.
Oxford, 56 pp., £6.99, September 1993, 0 19 283125 9
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British Subjects 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, July 1993, 1 85224 248 5
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Night Photograph 
by Lavinia Greenlaw.
Faber, 54 pp., £5.99, October 1993, 0 571 16894 9
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Nil Nil 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 53 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16808 6
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Out of Danger 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 103 pp., £7.50, December 1993, 0 14 058719 5
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... A sweet poem about libraries begins jauntily, for instance, almost like Betjeman: ‘The Mitchell, Brynmor Jones and Andersonian,/Delightful Bailey’s when it lived in Blythswood Square ...’ But it soon snags: Dear God, forgive the overdose of venison And the gluttonous bombast of beer and Beaujolais, Intensive seminars on ‘Libraries ...

Georgie came, Harry went

Frank Kermode, 25 April 1991

A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals of Virginia Woolf, 1897-1909 
edited by Mitchell Leaska.
Hogarth, 444 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 7012 0845 7
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A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 338 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 224 02234 2
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... awards one to ‘Bosphorus’, himself spelling it ‘Bosporus’, though when the versatile Miss Stephen spells it that way a few pages on, she gets another sic. And with so many of them flying about one can’t help noticing places where they are needed but are absent. Mr Leaska has written a long, informative and devout introduction, filling in much ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids, 21 March 2013

... language because they’re bound to learn yours. The Conservative prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and the man who on present showing is likely to be prime minister of Australia after September, Tony Abbott, have spoken up for the Anglosphere. In Britain, the Anglosphere is held up as an alternative way to exercise influence in the world by ...

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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... sloping brows, and misshapen features’ – conjured up in the Twenties by Attorney-General A. Mitchell Palmer in the counter-subversive persecution of immigrants. Now the enemies were as invisible as microbes and similarly ubiquitous. ‘Communists,’ declared Harry Truman’s Attorney-General, ‘are everywhere – in factories, offices, butcher ...

A Topic Best Avoided

Nicholas Guyatt: Abraham Lincoln, 1 December 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 426 pp., £21, February 2011, 978 0 393 06618 0
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... of his ability to steer the bargain through Congress. The legislative triumph went instead to Stephen Douglas, a politician from Illinois who, though four years younger than Lincoln, had already gained the national prominence he craved. In 1854, as the government debated the admission of Nebraska, Douglas persuaded Congress to abandon the Missouri line in ...

Drugs, anyone?

Seamus Perry: George Meredith, 18 June 2015

Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads 
by George Meredith, edited by Criscillia Benford and Rebecca Mitchell.
Yale, 390 pp., £40, April 2015, 978 0 300 17317 8
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... out in more than one long exhausting walk and vigorous playful tussles, was unwearying.’ Leslie Stephen, one of Meredith’s friends, eulogised the effects of an invigorating tramp in the country in the true spirit: ‘You can consume your modest sandwiches, light your pipe, and feel more virtuous, and thoroughly at peace with the universe, than it is easy ...

Grand Old Sod

Paul Driver: William Walton, 12 December 2002

The Selected Letters of William Walton 
edited by Malcolm Hayes.
Faber, 526 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 571 20105 9
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William Walton: Muse of Fire 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 332 pp., £45, June 2001, 9780851158037
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William Walton, the Romantic Loner: A Centenary Portrait Album 
by Humphrey Burton and Maureen Murray.
Oxford, 182 pp., £25, January 2002, 0 19 816235 9
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... annotations (there are rather few of these, but at least he doesn’t try to emulate Donald Mitchell-Philip Reed’s ploy when editing Britten’s letters of slipping a full-blown biography into the footnotes) while always putting the case for the defence (if sometimes disapproving of Walton’s egotism). ...

Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens, 21 July 1994

Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... Nixon himself approached Haldeman: On the Watergate question, he wanted me to talk to Mitchell and have him find out from De Loach if the guy who did the bugging on us in ’68 is still at the FBI, and then Gray should nail him with a lie detector and get it settled, which would give us the evidence we need. He also thinks I ought to move with ...

Red Stars

John Sutherland, 6 December 1984

Wild Berries 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Antonia Bovis.
Macmillan, 296 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 333 37559 9
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The Burn 
by Vassily Aksyonov, translated by Michael Glenny.
Hutchinson, 528 pp., £10.95, October 1984, 0 09 155580 9
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Fellow Travellers 
by T.C. Worsley.
Gay Men’s Press, 249 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 907040 51 9
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The Power of the Dog 
by Thomas Savage.
Chatto, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7011 3939 0
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The Fourth Protocol 
by Frederick Forsyth.
Hutchinson, 448 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 09 158630 5
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The Set-Up 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 397 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 370 30583 3
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... Moscow is the fount of spiritual nourishment, the known but unvisited other country, as Julian Mitchell terms it, in his play, Another Country. Fellow Travellers fits snugly with the success of the film version of the play, with the death of Blunt, and Britain’s continuing fascination with Thirties upper-class traitors. Worsley wrote the novel in ...

Where little Fyodor played

Stephen Greenblatt, 24 January 1991

... criticism. 5. A strong sense of universalism. He sat down. We were silent for a minute. Then Tom Mitchell, the editor of Critical Inquiry, pointed out that Mr Khitrov had identified the five positions that had been most strenuously attacked in the literary discourse of the United States for the past twenty years. We broke for lunch. Lunch in the ...

When should a judge not be a judge?

Stephen Sedley: Recuse yourself!, 6 January 2011

... George Cornell and Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie, they had to stand trial again for murdering Frank Mitchell, the Mad Axeman. The trial judge, Mr Justice Lawton, agreed that the adverse publicity was not going to do much for a fair trial this time round, and to everyone’s surprise allowed the defence to question the prospective jurors about what they knew of ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... me lies; the lyric-writer for US and the author of ‘Tell me lies about Vietnam’ was Adrian Mitchell, one of my colleagues on the Black Dwarf. He also brought out a book of poems in 1968 with a quotation from a news report about Vietnam stretched across the top of each page: In front of us a curious figure was standing, a little crouched, legs ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... of the poetic landscape. Auden and MacNeice, too, though the omission in both books of Stephen Spender suggests that he has slipped out of contention – either because his true worth has yet to be assessed, or because it finally has been. There are also some welcome defining presences. W.S. Graham is well represented with different poems in both ...

Diary

Adam Reiss: On a Dawn Raid, 18 November 2010

... pants, fleeces and anoraks. The majority are in their thirties and a lot of them sport the Grant Mitchell look. There are women officers too, who wear their hair short and are in the same jeans, puffa-jackets and fleeces as their male counterparts. These men and women, like all the other police officers I’ve encountered, exhibit certain core ...

‘We wrapped the guns in plastic bags’

Piero Gleijeses: Revolutionaries at Large, 2 November 2017

Cuba’s Revolutionary World 
by Jonathan Brown.
Harvard, 600 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 674 97198 1
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... was no need to enact social reforms. In his book The Most Dangerous Area in the World (1999), Stephen Rabe pointed out that Kennedy’s support for democratic presidents in Latin America was contingent on their ‘unflagging allegiance to its Cold War policies’. This is why he refused to defend Frondizi when the Argentine military moved to overthrow ...

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