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Thomas​ Jones: Evolution versus Metamorphosis

1 September 2005
... lore and terminology. Perowne pales into plausibility, however, when an enraged psychopath who has broken into his house is prevented from committing an act of violence by a recital of ‘Dover Beach’. In The Literary Animal, McEwan discusses Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, and the evidence it provides for a universal human nature. This leads on to the insight that ...

In Bayeux

Thomas​ Jones

2 August 2018
... wall showed Marx’s face with the slogan ‘En Marx!’) There were at least as many Stars and Stripes flying as there were tricoleurs or EU flags, as well as adverts for the golf course at Omaha Beach. There weren’t any queues at the Musée de la Tapisserie; we bought our tickets and went straight in, turning down the offer of audio guides, trusting to the succinct Latin captions (or tituli ...
3 June 1982
... drawn in water. We were empty vessels, daft. III The Northmen’s Cross They grounded their beast – and bird-headed craft on Braystones’ milling pebbles, at Silecroft overlooked by dunes, on a beach of suave slick mud up an inlet at Ravenglass. A summer day. Standing on a green grave watching a breeze slowly heave and then pass, stifled among yews, looking at their cross, carved rust-red ...

Like Apollinaire

Michael Wood

4 April 1996
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by Paul St John Mackintosh and Maki Sugiyama.
Boyars, 189 pp., £14.95, May 1995, 0 7145 2997 4
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A Personal Matter 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by John Nathan.
Picador, 165 pp., £5.99, January 1996, 0 330 34435 8
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Hiroshima Notes 
by Kenzaburo Oë, translated by David Swain and Toshi Yonezawa.
Boyars, 192 pp., £14.95, August 1995, 0 7145 3007 7
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... down the road. But these three works by Kenzaburo Oë, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, have an unusual flavour of missives cast into the sea long ago, only now arriving on our island beach. Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids was published in Japan in 1958, and is now translated for the first time. A Personal Matter was published in Japan in 1964, and in an American translation, here ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inherent Vice’

5 February 2015
Inherent Vice 
directed by Paul Thomas​ Anderson.
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... come to us straightaway when we see a private detective using it all the time, making it his best supporting actor. In a sluggish movie we keep looking at our watch and it seems to have stopped. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is more slow than sluggish but pretty sluggish all the same. Anderson wrote the adaptation himself and clearly loves the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel he is adapting. He ...

The German Ocean

D.J. Enright: Suffolk Blues

17 September 1998
The Rings of Saturn 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 296 pp., £15.99, June 1998, 1 86046 398 3
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... of birds, a perfect, fluting sound, part celestial and part the song of sirens.’ Sebald, Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of East Anglia, had read that the skull of Sir Thomas Browne, antiquary, lover of mysteries, connoisseur of odds and ends, was kept in the museum of that same hospital. He failed to find it, or the museum, and it turned out that the skull had ...


Tim Dee: Derek Walcott’s Birthday Party

21 May 2014
... pirate. Amy Winehouse holidayed in this rum-rich environment in 2009, performing when she could and working on some new songs. One night she was snapped in shorts and a flimsy top, crawling from the beach to a tourist diner. In the garish flashlight she looks like a body excavated from Vesuvian ash. When she reached the holidaymakers’ tables she tried to relieve them of their drinks. This was a real ...
1 December 2011
... that the distant perspective was veiled in blue mist as in much European painting. At the end of the day it could go yellowish. Sometimes a Canaletto reminds me of home. Out of town at the beach the sun heated bare sand to the point that you had to skip through it or burrow down into the cool layer below. The climate was not enervating, weather changed fast. The ingredients of the landscape ...


Stephanie Burt: D.A. Powell’s poems

24 September 2009
Chronic: Poems 
by D.A. Powell.
Graywolf, 79 pp., $20, February 2009, 978 1 55597 516 6
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... should) to the classics too. Though he might not want to hear it, one British poet Powell often resembles – in his sometime melodrama, his lush wordscapes, his focus on eros and elegy – is Dylan Thomas. Powell has (as Thomas did not) a love for rough edges, an attention (sometimes unwilling) to popular culture and an ear for other people’s speech: but he has, too, Thomas’s insistence that he ...

Hug me till you drug me

Alex Harvey: Aldous Huxley

4 May 2016
After Many a Summer 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 035 5
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Time Must Have a Stop 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 305 pp., £9.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 034 8
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The Genius and the Goddess 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 127 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 036 2
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... lifelong struggle with his eyesight was another reason he stayed in California: its clear, constant sunlight helped him to see. Once, during another picnic, Huxley was strolling along Santa Monica beach with his wife, Maria, and Thomas and Katia Mann, when Maria pointed out some long white shapes moving in a vaguely suggestive fashion. Aldous saw them as flowers, blowing in the wind. Maria realised ...

Embalming Father

Thomas​ Lynch

20 July 1995
... on a good time, they can be downright fun, if a little bingy. It’s just that it seems I’ve been in a Midwinter Conference of my own for a long time now. Enough is enough, I need to walk on the beach now and contemplate my next move. My father was a funeral director and three of my five brothers are funeral directors; two of my three sisters work pre-need and book-keeping in one of the four ...
6 September 2017
... The Whirling Eye (1920) by Thomas W. Benson and Charles S. Wolfe    A psychiatrist, visiting an insane asylum, discovers his old friend Professor Mehlman, who declares that he has been unjustly incarcerated merely because he is in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Master’

11 October 2012
... People weren’t walking out in droves from the suburban cinema in which we saw Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film The Master because there weren’t droves there: just perhaps eight or nine people. But they did all walk out, in a slow trickle that started about halfway through the film ...

Sea Changes

Patrick Parrinder

27 February 1992
Indigo, or Mapping the Waters 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 402 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 9780701135317
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Shakespeare’s Caliban: A Cultural History 
by Alden Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £35, January 1992, 0 521 40305 7
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... fertile commonwealth surrounded by beaches in which, like Gonzalo in The Tempest, we would by contraries execute all things. Both the word and the island of Utopia were the teasing inventions of Sir Thomas More. More’s vision of the good place which is no place may have been inspired by the voyages of Columbus’s follower Amerigo Vespucci, who explored the coast of Venezuela and, absurdly, managed ...

Man without a Fridge

Thomas​ Jones: Haruki Murakami

17 April 2003
After the Quake 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Vintage, 132 pp., £6.99, March 2003, 1 84343 015 0
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Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes 
by Susan Elizabeth Hough.
Princeton, 238 pp., £17.95, May 2002, 0 691 05010 4
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... Miyake’s obsession is bonfires. He left his wife and children in Kobe to move to a ‘dead-end’ town on the Pacific coast, north of Tokyo, ‘because this place gets more driftwood than any other beach I know’. Junko is a teenage girl who has also run away: ‘She was sick to death of school and couldn’t stand the sight of her father.’ (‘Most Japanese novelists,’ Murakami said in an ...

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