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‘How big?’ ‘That big’

Andrew Motion: Tales from the Riverbank

5 February 1998
Notes on Fishing 
by Sergei Timmofeevich Aksakov, translated by Thomas Hodge.
Northwestern, 230 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780810113664
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... of other sporting volumes. They were all successful at home, but this translation of the Notes by Thomas Hodge is the first into English. We can see on every page why Aksakov’s contemporaries took his book to heart. Turgenev, for instance, said: ‘This is real Russian speech: general and direct, supple and deft. There is nothing strained and nothing ...

There’s Daddy

Michael Wood

13 February 1992
Flying in to Love 
by D.M. Thomas.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 7475 1129 2
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JFK 
directed by Oliver Stone.
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... a need for hope in Americans and in others, and much of that hope died with him. There is, as D.M. Thomas’s novel suggests, continuing disbelief – it can’t have happened, it is a bad dream or a mere movie, reality will pick up and go on again. There is the mythological investment in the Kennedys as a doomed dynasty, a notion which also appears in ...

Why Mr Fax got it wrong

Roy Porter: Population history

5 March 1998
English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Davies.
Cambridge, 657 pp., £60, July 1997, 0 521 59015 9
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The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 427 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 631 18117 2
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... Published two hundred years ago this year, An Essay on the Principle of Population made the Rev. Thomas Robert malthus into the man of the moment. Malthus’s principle – that population inevitably outruns food resources – was heralded by some as the decisive scientific refutation of the mad perfectibilist schemes of the French Revolutionaries and their English confrères like William Godwin, and damned by others as hardheartedness incarnate ...

Hunter-Capitalists

Roger Hodge: The Comanches

15 December 2011
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanche Tribe 
by S.C. Gwynne.
Constable, 483 pp., £9.99, July 2011, 978 1 84901 703 9
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... never rose above the level of the hunting party or war band. More recently, scholars such as Thomas Kavanagh and Hämäläinen have found considerable evidence of a sophisticated if highly decentralised politics. Unlike the rigid hierarchies familiar to Europeans, Comanche political organisations were fluid and consensual, alliances of local groups based ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005

5 January 2006
... villainy. 16 March. To St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place for the funeral of Anna Haycraft (aka Alice Thomas Ellis) who died a week or so ago in Wales and whose body had therefore to be brought down for the funeral and then presumably taken back to Wales to be buried beside Colin, her late husband, at their Welsh farmhouse. This, I gather, is pretty remote and ...

Where Things Get Fuzzy

Stephanie Burt: Rae Armantrout

29 March 2017
Partly: New and Selected Poems 2001-15 
by Rae Armantrout.
Wesleyan, 234 pp., £27, September 2016, 978 0 8195 7655 2
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... cells, her body, her life: On closed eyes I see the spartan wall of the ICU covered in a scrambled hodge-podge of sticky notes, crossing one another at all angles, illegibly written over, snippets of reference, madly irrelevant.But the poem (called ‘Own’) continues: Symbolism as the party face of paranoia. Chorus of expert voices beyond my door, forever ...
7 October 1993
Beckett’s Dying Words 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 218 pp., £17.50, July 1993, 0 19 812358 2
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... Rossetti or another. I can’t believe that he chose to deliver these Clarendon Lectures as a hodge-podge. It is more probable that he observed the impressionism that Beckett ascribed to Proust: ‘By his impressionism I mean his non-logical statement of phenomena in the order and exactitude of their perception, before they have been distorted into ...

Ghosts

Hugh Haughton

5 December 1985
The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Michael Millgate.
Macmillan, 604 pp., £30, April 1985, 0 333 29441 6
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The Literary Notebooks of Thomas Hardy: Vols I and II 
edited by Lennart Björk.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £35, May 1985, 0 333 36777 4
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Emma Hardy’s Diaries 
edited by Richard Taylor.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 216 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 0 904790 21 5
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. V: 1914-1919 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 357 pp., £22.50, May 1985, 0 19 812622 0
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy, Vol. III 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 390 pp., £32.50, June 1985, 0 19 812784 7
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Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England 1660-1900 
by K.D.M. Snell.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 24548 6
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Thomas Hardy 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 547 pp., £12.95, June 1984, 0 19 254177 3
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...  ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Education: Who’s in charge?

6 May 2015
... Sir Greg Martin, executive head of Durand Academy in Stockwell, south London. As Margaret Hodge noted in a spectacular Public Accounts Committee session in January, Martin was until recently running a dating agency from the school premises, advertised on Twitter by @saffrone5, who, Hodge said, ‘was semi-nude with ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford

7 September 1995
Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... and I do.’ Graves’s second marriage (in 1950) was to the unassuming Beryl Hodge, characterised in ‘Ruby and Amethyst’ as ‘good as bread/Resistant to all weathers’. This poem compares her rather unfavourably to a White Goddess-style woman (‘rare as myrrh/Her weather still her own’), yet in many ways Beryl proved, for a short ...

Drugs, anyone?

Seamus Perry: George Meredith

17 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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... in A Christmas Garland: ‘In the heart of insular Cosmos, remote by some scores of leagues of Hodge-trod arable or pastoral … ’ The pathos Meredith barely allows himself to acknowledge in The Egoist is Willoughby’s terrible emotional neediness. During a conversation early in their unsatisfactory courtship, Clara falls silent, ‘knowing’, Meredith ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves

11 October 2018
Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... characters appeared on the stage.’ Moorcroft Wilson – who has written biographies of Edward Thomas, Isaac Rosenberg and Sassoon – has a carefully forensic style, and tends to rely on remarks by Graves’s contemporaries to convey his character. She has such a store of these that one does get from the book a sense of what a fusion of confusions he ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names

23 September 2010
A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... John and the vast majority of the other men and boys around at the time were Joseph, James, Thomas or William. Around 1850, however, the repertoire of names in regular use began to increase rapidly. As Gothic-looking steeples rose around the country, so medieval-sounding names crowded around the font: Arthur, Walter, Harold and Neville, Ethel, Edith and ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp

10 August 2016
... abandoned by several of the high-profile economists they signed up as advisers in 2015, including Thomas Piketty and David Blanchflower (who tweeted ‘he has no economic policies’). Corbyn’s former policy chief, Neale Coleman, who was often described as the most effective member of his team, has now been announced as a top adviser to his opponent in the ...

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