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Love and Crime

Theodore Zeldin, 6 March 1980

Recollections and Reflections of a Country Policeman 
by W.C. May.
A.H. Stockwell (Ilfracombe), 342 pp., £6.60, July 1979, 0 7223 1199 0
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The Police in Society 
by Ben Whitaker.
Eyre Methuen, 351 pp., £6.95, March 1979, 9780413342003
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... the novelist will have to withdraw? I do not think so: love and crime have more in common than may appear at first sight. Love is one of the revolutionary forces of modern times: in its intense and individualistic form, it has increasingly subverted the preoccupation with prestige and property that once governed marriage and, indeed, society as a whole. It ...

Old America

W.C. Spengemann, 7 January 1988

Look homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe 
by David Herbert Donald.
Bloomsbury, 579 pp., £16.95, April 1987, 0 7475 0004 5
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From this moment on: America in 1940 
by Jeffrey Hart.
Crown, 352 pp., $19.95, February 1987, 9780517557419
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... to the present, can help us all to feel more at home in this strange place. Nostalgic historians may be classified according to the times and places in which they locate their homes. Some, like Henry Adams, seem to discover that far country through study and then begin to remember it as their own birthplace. Others, like David Donald and Jeffrey ...

Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

A.J.P. Taylor: A Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 468 pp., £18.99, January 1994, 1 85619 210 5
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A.J.P. Taylor: The Traitor within the Gates 
by Robert Cole.
Macmillan, 285 pp., £40, November 1993, 0 333 59273 5
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From Napoleon to the Second International: International Essays on the 19th Century 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Chris Wrigley.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 241 13444 7
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... until you try to do it.’ In 1977, when this comment was first published, some younger readers may have asked themselves: W.C. Who? Typically, this was not a forced, would-be trendy allusion to current vogues of popular culture in the electronic media but an authentically personal image, implicitly framed in nostalgia. Nothing odd about that from an Oxford ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... of instability, movement, pressure – something approaching synaptic assault, a feeling that may seem familiar to anyone who has spent time in Midtown or Lower Manhattan during working hours. This effect is amplified by the proliferation of reflections and refractions from the windows of the moving trains. Another tendency both poets share, and which ...

That’s Liquor!

Nick James, 7 March 1996

Leaving Las Vegas 
directed by Mike Figgis.
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... Hollywood finance on Leaving Las Vegas.) Modern Hollywood is in denial about booze. Hard drinking may still have a glimmer of the macho aura that surrounded it when the Hemingway-influenced generation of screenwriters filled the studio writers ‘buildings in the Thirties, but in Nineties blockbuster movies even policemen and criminals mostly drink ...
An Awfully Big Adventure 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 193 pp., £10.95, December 1989, 0 7156 2204 8
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The Thirteen-Gun Salute 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins, 319 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 00 223460 2
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Family Sins, and Other Stories 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 251 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 370 31374 7
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... accidental meeting with his daughter, who has not (as he supposes) come to see him. Remittance men may not have disappeared off the face of the earth, but they are no longer commonly found in fiction. An interview between a man and his wife’s lover about arrangements for the separation leads to a moment of self-discovery which takes its force from the ...

Ancient Orthodoxies

C.K. Stead, 23 May 1991

by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 908 4
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Dog Fox Field 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 103 pp., £6.95, February 1991, 0 85635 950 5
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True Colours 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 102 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 910 6
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Eating strawberries in the Necropolis 
by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1991, 0 00 272076 0
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... be honest, without pretensions; the poetic problem, or part of it, that to strip away all colour may leave only a faint wash. Because the language is so neutral, it is the form in these lines which eye and ear find themselves debating. A slight awkwardness can add charm and authenticity: but when I come to the tenth line, which has the right number of ...
... Things do happen, things do get done and said in the stories, even though sometimes people may be talking at cross-purposes at times, or seemingly to no good purpose. KB: I’m interested in those stories which appear in different forms in different collections. Are they different versions of one story or different stories? RC: I feel they’re ...

Into Your Enemy’s Stomach

Alexander Murray: Louis IX, 8 April 2010

Saint Louis 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Gareth Evan Gollrad.
Notre Dame, 947 pp., £61.95, February 2009, 978 0 268 03381 1
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... around 400 ad by holy men, like bishops, then by other categories, including those kings who may or may not have been saintly. Louis IX of France was the first major king to be made a saint. His reign, from 1226 to 1270, forms the middle episode in an unbroken success story for the French monarchy, a story which had ...

What became of Modernism?

C.K. Stead, 1 May 1980

Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... to the best in poetry. In all the arts, there are broad movements which are inexorable. You may choose to swim against the tide, and perhaps do it very well, but you can’t turn it back; and English poets for half a century have mostly chosen to swim against what my hunch as a literary historian tells me will prove to have been the major tide of poetry ...

The other side have got one

Ian Gilmour: Lady Thatcher’s Latest, 6 June 2002

Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the 20th Century 
by E.H.H. Green.
Oxford, 309 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 19 820593 7
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Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 486 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 00 710752 8
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... single proposition to be made which was ‘not deceitful, and the tying our reason too close to it may in many cases be destructive. Circumstances must come in.’ In the 18th, David Hume believed that ‘parties from principle, especially abstract speculative principle’, were ‘perhaps the most extraordinary and unaccountable phenomenon’ that had yet ...


Philip Horne, 30 August 1990

Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... joke continues to run because James is worried about the worldly obscurity his stylistic obscurity may end in, and the comic heightening of their contrasted fortunes flatters even as it caricatures her. They share the joke, but it in no way settles their differences. In 1913, worried at James’s anxieties about money, she tried to get up a $5000 birthday gift ...

Sagest of Usurpers

Ian Gilmour: Cromwell since Cromwell, 21 March 2002

Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity 
by Blair Worden.
Allen Lane, 387 pp., £20, November 2001, 9780713996036
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... Hume, who had earlier mocked the Sidney cult, found it ‘amusing to observe the general and I may say national rage’. Shortly after the exposure of Sidney, John Wilkes – in the House of Commons, of all places – extolled Cromwell’s ‘wonderful, comprehensive mind’ which ‘embraced the whole of this powerful empire’. A few years before, Wilkes ...

First Pitch

Frank Kermode: Marianne Moore, 16 April 1998

The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore 
edited by Bonnie Costello and Celeste Goodridge et al.
Faber, 597 pp., £30, April 1998, 0 571 19354 4
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... groups of that sort did exist in New York and also in Chicago. But the great ones, though they may have occasionally frequented these foyers, were usually about their business elsewhere. Think, for example, of Charles Ives and Wallace Stevens, both New England insurance executives and both doing the entirely unexpected things they chose to do, while ...

Blame it on Darwin

Jonathan Rée, 5 October 2017

Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker 
by A.N. Wilson.
John Murray, 438 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4447 9488 5
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... be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure the truth.’ Huxley may never have uttered these words, but they have become legendary, and they rankle with A.N. Wilson, whose new book is designed to cut Darwin down to size and discredit ‘Darwin-worshippers’ and their ‘new religion’. Wilson is impressed by Wilberforce’s ...

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