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O cruel!

Michael Mason, 16 June 1983

Far Away and Long Ago 
by W.H. Hudson.
Eland, 332 pp., £3.95, October 1982, 0 907871 25 9
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W.H. HudsonA Biography 
by Ruth Tomalin.
Faber, 314 pp., £13.50, November 1982, 0 571 10599 8
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... In W.H. Hudson’s autobiographical study, Far Away and Long Ago,* there is a passage which it is hard to make oneself read. The subject is the gaucho method of slaughtering a cow or bullock. One of the two or three mounted men engaged in the operation would throw his lasso over the horns, and, galloping off, pull the rope taut; a second man would then drop from his horse, and running up to the animal behind, pluck out his big knife and with two lightning-quick blows sever the tendons of both hind legs ...

An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi, 21 February 1985

The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... Representative chapters include ‘The Child Alone’, which deals with the autobiographies of W.H. Hudson, Forrest Reid, Eleanor Farjeon, Christopher Milne and Lord Berners, and ‘The Child at Home’, discussing Victor Gollancz, Augustus Hare, Stephen Spender, Winifred Foley and Neville Cardus. These categories are speculative instruments rather ...

Bringing it home to Uncle Willie

Frank Kermode, 6 May 1982

Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Roger Tennant.
Sheldon Press, 276 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 85969 358 9
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Edward Garnett: A Life in Literature 
by George Jefferson.
Cape, 350 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 224 01488 9
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The Edwardian Novelists 
by John Batchelor.
Duckworth, 251 pp., £18, February 1982, 0 7156 1109 7
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The Uses of Obscurity: The Fiction of Early Modernism 
by Allon White.
Routledge, 190 pp., £12, August 1981, 0 7100 0751 5
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... with, those who tend to be regarded as the better sort of novelist. He was the advocate of W.H. Hudson in the early years of the century, and, a generation later, counsellor to the 24-year-old Henry Green, who rewrote Blindness in accordance with Garnett’s advice, and many years later attributed to his adviser ‘almost any original idea’ he ...

Turning down O’Hanlon

Mark Ford, 7 December 1989

In Trouble Again: A Journey between the Orinoco and the Amazon 
by Redmond O’Hanlon.
Penguin, 368 pp., £3.99, October 1989, 0 14 011900 0
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Our Grandmothers’ Drums: A Portrait of Rural African Life and Culture 
by Mark Hudson.
Secker, 356 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 436 20959 4
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Borderlines: A Journey in Thailand and Burma 
by Charles Nicholl.
Secker, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 436 30980 7
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... In The Orators W.H. Auden classified bird buffs as ‘excessive lovers of self’: they illustrate the psychological type who is ‘unable to taste pleasure unless through the rare coincidence of naturally diverse events, or the performance of a long and intricate ritual’. Redmond O’Hanlon sees his own career as a bird-watcher originating along similar lines to this but rather more romantically ...

Sex on the Roof

Patricia Lockwood, 6 December 2018

Evening in Paradise: More Stories 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8229 8
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Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 160 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8234 2
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... lived in’. There are a staggering 33 of them, some with notes like, ‘Over a ham factory – my W.H. Hudson still smells like ham 25 years later,’ and, plainly, ‘I burned it down.’ The last house was on Alcatraz Avenue in Oakland, California, and its note reads, ‘No catastrophe. So far.’ Let that detail lead the cult, then. Let us type our ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson, 19 February 2015

Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... Rise in the books, after the name of a nearby field) more attractive. Her intelligence drew her away from her origins, but her ambitions weren’t grand. She wrote from an early age – ‘I cannot remember the time when I did not wish and mean to write. My brother and I used to make up verse and write stories and diaries from our earliest ...

The Ground Hostess

Francis Wyndham, 1 April 1983

... and places I couldn’t visit (the house in St Luke’s Road with a brown plaque in memory of W.H. Hudson) because they either reminded me of her and therefore of death or of death and therefore of her. I kept on telling myself: ‘I mustn’t be rushed.’ Somehow or other, the friends had to be warned off, kept at bay. I desired the hitherto ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... Graham Bell invented the telephone the same year that Henry James published Roderick Hudson; Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems coincided with Coca-Cola’s adoption of its ‘distinctly shaped bottle’). Still, naturalists have their molluscs, entomologists their butterflies: why shouldn’t literary critics indulge the taxonomic reflex? The ...

Fiction and E.M. Forster

Frank Kermode: At the Cost of Life, 10 May 2007

... addresses to the ‘dear reader’. He uses the many ways open to him to explain or suggest how he himself felt about his characters (though he claims they remain entitled to their freedom) and – he doesn’t avoid the word – about the universe. So if Forster had tackled a situation like Maisie’s it would not be Maisie’s perception of it that more ...

Off-Beat

Iain Sinclair, 6 June 1996

... original ‘triplicity’ (as he calls it) of Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsberg. The Kerouac Estate now has a six-figure annual turnover, expensive relics are sold to celebrity collectors. Ginsberg’s papers, a vast and valuable archive, have gone to Stanford University for more than a million dollars. Burroughs, in retirement, advertises Nike, and is visited ...

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