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15 September 1983
Shame 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 287 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02952 5
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Scandal 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 233 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 241 11101 3
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Love and Glory 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Secker, 252 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 06716 1
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The Complete Knowledge of Sally Fry 
by Sylvia Murphy.
Gollancz, 172 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 575 03353 3
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... shamelessness. A.N. Wilsons term is more ironic and oblique, suggestive of the British public in a fit of morality: you get the sense that maybe too much of a fuss is about to be made of something. SylviaMurphy’s knowledge is, to start with, not abstract at all, since it refers to a kind of encyclopedia or dictionnaire des idées reçues. All of these titles point to something about the book in ...

Meltdown

Anthony Thwaite

26 October 1989
Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia​ Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... Writing a BBC Third Programme review of Donald Hall’s Penguin Contemporary American Poetry exactly a month before she killed herself early in 1963, Sylvia Plath praised ‘the inwardness of these images ... the uncanny faculty of melting through the leaves of the wallpaper, through the dark looking-glass, into a world which one can only call surrealist ...
28 September 1989
Manila Envelope 
by James Fenton.
28 Kayumanggi St, West Triangle Homes, Quezon City, Phillipines, 48 pp., £12, May 1989, 971 86 4701 5
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New Selected Poems 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 190 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15482 4
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The Mirror Wall 
by Richard Murphy.
Bloodaxe, 61 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9781852240929
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Selected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 85635 741 3
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The Accumulation of Small Acts of Kindness 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 47 pp., £5.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3455 0
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... Far from the wisdom of the heart I saw a child being torn apart.    Is this you?    Is this me? The fields are mined and the night is long; Stick with me when the shooting starts. Richard Murphy is not a reckless poet. Those who rate him surely rate him much too highly. Ted Hughes compliments him with the anti-reckless word ‘classical’ and with ‘the gift of epic objectivity’, and ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe

27 September 2012
All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... them? Such questions lie at the heart of Cohen’s strikingly elegant and assured biographical study of three now almost forgotten lesbian women: the American heiress and intellectual polymath Esther Murphy (1897-1962); Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968), the Cuban-American Hollywood screenwriter, memoirist and seductress extraordinaire (Garbo and Dietrich and Isadora Duncan were among her conquests); and ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia​ Plath at 86

20 December 2018
The Letters of Sylvia​ Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia​ Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... Sylvia Plath​ was scared of letters. The postman always announced his presence with a ‘burst of prophetic whistling’. In May 1958, eating a slice of toast with butter and strawberry jam before going ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Ulysses v. O.J. Simpson

27 July 2016
... Simpson case, is a shy person in life, studious, you might say. She did, it’s true, make some mistakes in presenting the case. But the main issue seems to be her hair. (The series producer, Ryan Murphy, is the magician who brought us the hard-hitting high-school documentary series, Glee.) The onscreen Clark comes to be fully known in episode five, when, regardless of what actually happened to her ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue

7 November 1985
Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia​ Townsend Warner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... In her best poems, the relation between her mind and what it meets is mutual tact: as in ‘The Hare’ and ‘Letter from a Far Country’, where much is said by leaving the rest unsaid. Richard Murphy, too, leaves a good deal unsaid. The price of stone is high, apparently, but he hasn’t computed it in detail; we are meant to leap from one assessment to the next. To begin with, it is the price of ...

Entrepreneurship

Tom Paulin: Ted Hughes and the Hare

29 November 2007
Letters of Ted Hughes 
edited by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 756 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 571 22138 7
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... Modern Poetry in Translation which he founded with Daniel Weissbort).It is, however, his letters to Plath that are the outstanding feature of this volume. The first letter (March 1956) is very brief:Sylvia,That night was nothing but getting to know how smooth your body is. The memory of it goes through me like brandy.If you do not come to London to me, I shall come to Cambridge to you. I shall be in ...
7 May 1981
... Literature no less than 655. Great Writers indeed. Timothy Dwight, born in Northampton, Massachusetts 14 May 1752: ‘In his own time Timothy Dwight was a figure of towering significance.’ Arthur Murphy, born in Clomquin, Roscommon, 27 December 1727: his comedy The Upholsterer was produced in 1758, Alzuma in 1773. And while we are on the drama, let us remember James Robinson Planché, born in ...
20 September 1984
Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition 
by James Joyce, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior.
Garland, 1919 pp., $200, May 1984, 0 8240 4375 8
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James Joyce 
by Richard Ellmann.
Oxford, 900 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 19 281465 6
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... in the Phoenix Park of Finnegans Wake ‘is often indicated to be that of peeping on micturating girls’. In A522 Bernard Shaw, declining to contribute money for the publication of Ulysses, told Sylvia Beach: ‘I take care of the pence because the pounds won’t take care of themselves.’ In B507 he tells her: ‘I take care of the pence and let the Pounds take care of themselves.’ A527 has ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett

29 July 1999
Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... the Logos Unbound and the ‘nightmare of history’ which overtook it. The man who oversaw the serial publication of Finnegans Wake, Jolas was one of the editorial entrepreneurs of Modernism; like Sylvia Beach and Harriet Shaw Weaver, a supporting player in the long-running and bloody saga of publishing Joyce that is central to the myth of the modern. Reminiscences of Joyce (or ‘Jouasse’) in his ...

Off-Beat

Iain Sinclair

6 June 1996
... of fogs and child-killers and stiff courtesy was frequently celebrated. Corso lived for a time in the late Fifties in Primrose Hill. ‘I saw the druids at their work, that was great.’ Unlike Sylvia Plath, who lodged on the same patch, Corso’s London period was invisible, his poems hidden away in secondhand anthologies. His life as obscure as that of Beckett’s Murphy. Corso’s sage green ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... Cantor, Kirk Douglas, Melvyn Douglas, Deanna Durbin, Melvyn Frank, Daniel Fuchs, Henry Fonda, John Garfield, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Henry Hathaway, Van Heflin, Fritz Lang, Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, Burgess Meredith, Groucho Marx, Vincente Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Robert Ryan, Edward G. Robinson, Donna Reed, Nicholas Ray, Robert Siodmak, Frank Sinatra, Sylvia Sidney, Claire Trevor ...

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