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Clarety Clarity

Colin Burrow: Herrick and His Maidens

30 July 2014
The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick 
edited by Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly.
Oxford, 504 pp. and 803 pp., £125, October 2013, 978 0 19 921284 2
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... of Vulcan, the god responsible for the fire which had destroyed a number of his poems in November of that year, ‘confine him to the brew-houses,/The glass-house, dye-vats and their furnaces.’ Cain and Connolly don’t note this echo, but it does help date this poem, and is a good indicator of how rambunctiously Herrick could transform his master. He implicitly compares himself to the fiery ...

Bristling with Diligence

James Wood: A.S. Byatt

8 October 2009
The Children’s Book 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 617 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 7011 8389 9
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... and Humphry Wellwood, a glorious Midsummer Party is in preparation. Humphry is a banker (though he will soon switch to journalism), and Olive is a famous children’s writer. Lucky Wellwood children, Tom, Dorothy, Phyllis and Hedda, are making paper lanterns. Philip reflects that, in his former life, he had to beg for scraps of paper to draw on; but these generous people throw away paper with ...

Sisters come second

Dinah Birch: Siblings

26 April 2012
Thicker than Water: Siblings and Their Relations 1780-1920 
by Leonore Davidoff.
Oxford, 449 pp., £35, November 2011, 978 0 19 954648 0
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... reached us – which, in our small farming community, was often. We were unconsciously echoing Aristotle’s verdict in the Politics: ‘There’s no hate like brothers’ hate.’ We had heard of Cain and Abel, the first pair of brothers. ‘Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.’ We knew about Jacob and Esau too, and thought Esau entirely in the right. ‘And Esau hated Jacob ...

Worse than Pagans

Tom​ Shippey: The Church v. the Fairies

1 December 2016
Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church 
by Richard Firth Green.
Pennsylvania, 285 pp., £36, August 2016, 978 0 8122 4843 2
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... lay alike. Theories about them proliferated, and their variety only demonstrates the intractability of the problem. The Beowulf poet claimed that ettins, elves, orcs and giants were descended from Cain, the first murderer: they were human, then, but damned by hereditary sin twice over. However, the Beowulf poet – or his scribe – seems not to have been sure whether he meant Cain or C(h)am – ...

Raining

Donald Davie

5 May 1983
Later Poems 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 333 34560 6
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Thomas Hardy Annual, No 1 
edited by Norman Page.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 333 32022 0
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Tess of the d’Urbervilles 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell.
Oxford, 636 pp., £50, March 1983, 0 19 812495 3
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Hardy’s Love Poems 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Carl Weber.
Macmillan, 253 pp., £3.95, February 1983, 0 333 34798 6
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. I: Wessex Poems, Poems of the Past and the Present, Time’s Laughingstocks 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 403 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 19 812708 1
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... But John Lucas doesn’t think so, for if he were to admit that, he might find himself, declared socialist that he is, in the unthinkable position of finding some good to say for Ezra Pound. Like Tom Paulin, who is also in the Annual, Lucas thinks he can be élitist in education (what he’s professionally concerned with) while remaining ‘progressive’ and egalitarian in matters further ...
21 February 1980
Hackenfeller’s Ape 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 125 pp., £5.50, October 1980, 0 85031 314 7
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Flesh 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 124 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 9780850313185
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The Snow Ball 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 143 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 0 85031 316 3
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... a hand, or a brisk slap. Hackenfeller’s Ape still lives. A less readily assimilable set-piece is the debate between the Professor and the scientific civil servant Post, who believes the mark of Cain is stamped indelibly on man’s forehead, and rejects meat-eaters and vegetarians alike: ‘If they eat lettuce the lettuce-grower will shoot the rabbits who maraud the lettuces.’ Post gets the ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland

17 July 1997
Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... this case, an abducted sister), middle-aged, world-weary but alert, hard and lean as whipcord, a man of few words, invincible in gunplay, and a dispenser of Solomonic justice. As portrayed first by Tom Mix, then by Randolph Scott, the Lassiter type descends directly to Clint Eastwood. The last scene in Unforgiven (even down to the whipping) is the first scene of Riders of the Purple Sage. All that ...
30 October 1997
Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits 
by Terry Castle.
Columbia, 150 pp., £15.95, November 1996, 0 231 10596 7
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Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall 
edited by Joanne Glasgow.
New York, 273 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 8147 3092 2
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Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 434 pp., £25, June 1997, 9780719554087
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... is by Krafft-Ebing. But reading it doesn’t help her to accept her condition and she turns immediately to the Bible which ‘fell open near the beginning. She read: “And the Lord set a mark upon Cain.” ’ The scar on Stephen’s face (the result of a wartime wound), which becomes livid at times of stress, functions as that mark. Despite Hall’s attempts to court the sympathy of heterosexuals ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin

4 September 1997
Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom​ Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... Chandler letters, essays, and fiction, Raymond Chandler Speaking, has been re-issued. We now have a restored print of The Big Sleep, half an hour longer than the original; and, most recently, Tom Hiney’s Raymond Chandler, billed as the first ‘authorised’ biography in twenty years. Chandler would be amused by his power to authorise a biography from beyond the grave, but probably not so ...

Success

Marilyn Butler

18 November 1982
The Trouble of an Index: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. XII 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 166 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 7195 3885 8
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Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 404 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 7195 3974 9
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Byron 
by Frederic Raphael.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 500 01278 4
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Byron’s Political and Cultural Influence in 19th-Century Europe: A Symposium 
edited by Paul Graham Trueblood.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 333 29389 4
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Byron and Joyce through Homer 
by Hermione de Almeida.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 333 30072 6
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Byron: A Poet Before His Public 
by Philip Martin.
Cambridge, 253 pp., £18.50, July 1982, 0 521 24186 3
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... his flight from England in 1816 to his death in Greece in 1824, suffers because this is a story to which the Venetian love affairs seem very marginal. Byron’s letter on the subject of his exile to Tom Moore in 1822 contains some self-flattery, but also indicates those areas of his character and achievement to which Raphael has not done justice: The truth is, my dear Moore, you live near the stove ...

Diary

Perry Anderson: On E.P. Thompson

21 October 1993
... oath. I was not alone in failing to see this. A few years earlier, Edward had published a review of Raymond Williams’s Long Revolution in NLR, which was more temperate in tone than his treatment of Tom Nairn and myself, but more wounding in effect. One of his charges was that Raymond had become half-absorbed, in manner and preoccupation, by the ruling-class academy. ‘Oh, the sunlit quadrangle ...

Why edit socially?

Marilyn Butler

20 October 1994
Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, Vol. VII 
edited by Byron.
Oxford, 445 pp., £52.50, March 1993, 0 19 812328 0
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The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse 
edited by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 832 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 19 214158 9
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... most seeming virtuous eye, By thy shut soul’s hypocrisy; By the perfection of thine own art, Which pass’d for human thine own heart; By thy delight in others’ pain, And by thy brotherhood of Cain, I call upon thee! and compel Thyself to be thy proper hell! McGann brings back another version that first readers readily knew of, and in doing so modifies our reading of what is by now the better ...

Hoogah-Boogah

James Wolcott: Rick Moody

19 September 2002
The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... for diner food offers ‘four different meat loaf recipes’; he listens to the Ramones on his ‘portable cassette player’. Typographical tricks suit satirists such as Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe, who seem to be graffiti-spraying billboards with impudent brio, deploying jazzy effects (italics, caps, boldface, exclamation marks, dashes) to fill a wide canvas. They’re performance ...

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