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24 May 2001
Allen Tate: Orphan of the South 
by Thomas Underwood.
Princeton, 447 pp., £21.95, December 2000, 0 691 06950 6
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... to sue him if he kept on trying. His biography of Tate remains unwritten, and this – in view of his juicy prospectus – seems a pity. Instead, we must make do, at least for the time being, with ThomasUnderwood’s immensely detailed and tirelessly literary investigation of Tate’s early career, which culminated with Tate, at almost forty, on the brink of an eventful if largely uncreative middle ...

Give us a break

Rosemarie Bodenheimer: Gissing’s Life

9 July 2009
George Gissing: A Life 
by Paul Delany.
Phoenix, 444 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 0 7538 2573 0
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... poem ‘Jenny’, though other Victorian prostitute figures like Nancy in Oliver Twist also come to mind). It is his second marriage, to an uneducated London stonemason’s daughter, Edith Underwood, made when he was experienced enough to know better, that drives a reader to wonder about Gissing’s soundness of mind. In 1890, when he allegedly picked Edith up on the Marylebone Road and took her ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas​ Jones: Eternal Bowie

5 April 2012
Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... or ‘cow’). Whatever it took. One of the things Trynka’s biography makes clear is Bowie’s utter determination to hit the big time. ‘I was ambitious in my head,’ his schoolfriend George Underwood told Trynka, ‘but not like he was.’ On that ‘sunny evening’ in July 1972, Trynka recalls: His look is lascivious, amused. As an audience of excited teens and outraged parents struggle to ...

Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow

29 November 2007
Woodlands 
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... affected by mildew than those under a canopy. Conversely, Rackham cites instances of regeneration in existing woods in the Middle Ages, but perhaps does not allow for the effect on the non-oak ‘underwood’ of coppicing for fuel and small roundwood. Cutting the other trees could allow what German foresters judged essential: oaks to have the sun on their crowns at ten years old. Possibly no one is ...
20 February 1997
... on the other hand, was a regular and conscientious visitor. She still is, taking buses and trains to whichever prison they’ve moved her son on to: over the years she’s been to Aylesbury, Grendon Underwood, Highpoint, Way-land, Stocken, Channings Wood, Sudbury, Liverpool, Coldingley, Pentonville and Maid-stone. In the early years, McCluskie’s young sisters were not enthusiastic about making the long ...
17 December 1981
Auto da Fé 
by Elias Canetti, translated by C.V. Wedgwood.
Cape, 464 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 224 00568 5
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The Tongue Set Free: Remembrance of a European Childhood 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 268 pp., $12.95, June 1979, 0 8164 9103 8
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The Human Province 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 281 pp., $12.95, June 1978, 0 8164 9335 9
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Crowds and Power 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Carol Stewart.
Penguin, 575 pp., £2.95, October 1978, 0 14 003616 4
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Kafka’s Other Trial: The Letters to Felice 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Christopher Middleton.
Marion Boyars, 121 pp., £5.95, October 1976, 0 7145 1136 6
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The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit 
by Elias Canetti, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Marion Boyars, 103 pp., £5.50, January 1978, 0 7145 2579 0
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The Conscience of Words 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 246 pp., $12.95, May 1979, 0 8164 9334 0
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... Indeed the modesty and the dignity make the same point: why make a fuss about your greatness? Great writers usually do, nonetheless. ‘Fame wants to find safety,’ as Canetti has put it. Thomas Mann was notorious for his self-importance and his suspicion of anyone whom he felt might be detecting signs of weakness in him; Thomas Hardy spent his last days writing venomously bad verses against ...

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