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Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... from when I first met him twenty-five years ago. Dame Judi is here and Michael Williams, Dame Wendy, Lindsay A., Ron Pickup and Anna Massey, Keith Baxter, Percy Harris, who’s 90 herself, and Ralph Richardson’s widow, Mu. I am happily seated between Jocelyn Herbert and Merula Guinness, with both of whom one can be happily silly. ‘You see,’ says ...

Diary

Nico Muhly: How I Write Music, 25 October 2018

... each lasting about five seconds, and instead of learning to use them, I’d just throw them at the wall in some order and the result would be a sparkling and disorganised mess, a free-form string of disjointed but attractive thoughts. My teacher set out to fix this problem, and taught me a method of planning I still use to this day. With every piece, no matter ...

Back home

Mary Warnock, 1 September 1983

Cohabitation without Marriage 
by Michael Freeman and Christina Lyon.
Gower, 228 pp., £15, April 1983, 0 566 00455 0
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A Prison of Expectations: The Family in Victorian Culture 
by Steven Mintz.
New York, 234 pp., $32.50, May 1983, 0 8147 5388 4
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What is to be done about the family? 
edited by Lynne Segal.
Penguin, 237 pp., £2.50, April 1983, 0 14 006596 2
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‘Autistic’ Children: New Hope for a Cure 
by N. Tinbergen and E.A. Tinbergen.
Allen and Unwin, 362 pp., £19.50, April 1983, 0 04 157010 3
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Thicker than water? Adoption: Its Loyalties, Pitfalls and Joys 
by Alice Heim.
Secker, 211 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 436 19155 5
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The Artificial Family: A Consideration of Artificial Insemination by Donor 
by R. Snowden and G.D. Mitchell.
Counterpoint, 138 pp., £2.95, April 1983, 0 04 176002 6
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... reappearing in the most disconcerting way. One of the most amusing essays in this collection is by Wendy Clark, a lesbian, who has tried time and again to set up alternative communal living establishments which will provide a true home without the horrors of family life. What particularly distresses her is the way all the members insist on going back to their ...

Yawping

Adam Gopnik, 23 May 1996

The Scandal of Pleasure 
by Wendy Steiner.
Chicago, 263 pp., £19.95, January 1996, 0 226 77223 3
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... The ideological pressures built up in America over the past twenty years have ruptured the wall that ought to separate the virtual realm of art from the real realm of life. People have got into the habit of confusing the speculative fantasies of made-up stuff with things that actually happen – they have come to treat books and pictures as though they ...

The Long Con

Jackson Lears: Techno-Austerity, 16 July 2015

The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organised Wealth and Power 
by Steve Fraser.
Little, Brown, 466 pp., £21.99, February 2015, 978 0 316 18543 1
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... excess. The rhetorical forces of primitive Christianity confronted the demonic powers of Wall Street. In this rhetoric there was ‘a certain gravitas, an undercurrent of apocalyptic finality … foreign to our sense of things today’. Religious language raised the stakes in the struggle against concentrated capital. This was true for industrial ...

Why did we start farming?

Steven Mithen: Hunter-Gatherers Were Right, 30 November 2017

Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 336 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 0 300 18291 0
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... of the nation-state is founded, ultimately inspiring Donald Trump’s notion of a ‘city’ wall to keep out the barbarian Mexican horde, and Brexiters’ desire to ‘take back control’ from insurgent European bureaucrats. But what if the conventional narrative is entirely wrong? What if ancient ruins testify to an aberration in the normal state of ...

I wasn’t just a brain in a jar

Christian Lorentzen: Edward Snowden, 26 September 2019

Permanent Record 
by Edward Snowden.
Macmillan, 339 pp., £20, September 2019, 978 1 5290 3565 0
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... for Christmas in 1989, and his ‘real education’ began. He learned about the ‘invisible wall’, the rule that prevents a player of Super Mario Bros from going backwards in a game that moves, like words on a page, strictly from left to right. There is no reversing time. The leaker of government documents can’t go home again. Everyone grows up with ...

Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones, 20 October 1983

The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... conscripts of the Argentine junta invade the Falklands, Sam rejects the package deal. He puts up a wall map of the Atlantic Ocean, sticking coloured pins into it to mark the British advance with his unqualified approval. ‘He’s just regressed,’ Sam’s wife tells Hooper. ‘He’s like when I found him. When he had a horrible plastic bust of Churchill in ...

Millom

Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... No roofs, no town, Maybe no men, But yonder where a lather-rinse of cloud pours down The spiked wall of the sky-line, see, Scafell Pike, Still there. It is school-magazine stuff, with its once-modishly free form and its mixture of original, slightly self-conscious metaphor and mild archaism of diction. Yet the second poem, ‘Beck’, far more imaginative ...

Every Slightest Pebble

Clarence Brown, 25 May 1995

The Akhmatova Journals. Vol. I: 1938-1941 
by Lydia Chukovskaya, translated by Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova.
Harvill, 310 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 00 216391 8
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Remembering Anna Akhmatova 
by Anatoly Nayman, translated by Wendy Rosslyn.
Halban, 240 pp., £18, June 1991, 9781870015417
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Anna Akhmatova and Her Circle 
edited by Konstantin Polivanov, translated by Patricia Beriozkina.
Arkansas, 281 pp., $32, January 1994, 1 55728 308 7
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Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet 
by Roberta Reeder.
Allison and Busby, 592 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 85031 998 6
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Women’s Works in Stalin’s Time: On Lidia Chukovskaia and Nadezhda Mandelstam 
by Beth Holmgren.
Indiana, 225 pp., £25, September 1993, 0 253 33860 3
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... by the philosopher Jacques Maritain, who had moved permanently to France. Every inch of interior wall had been covered in murals by a young French painter, against which Lourié looked finally at home. He had been one of Akhmatova’s ‘husbands’ for a while. Tenuous communication had not diminished their emotional attachment. ‘All your photographs look ...

The Question of U

Ian Penman: Prince, 20 June 2019

Prince: Life and Times 
by Jason Draper.
Chartwell, 216 pp., £15.99, February 2017, 978 0 7858 3497 7
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The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince 
by Mayte Garcia.
Trapeze, 304 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4091 7121 8
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... The water drip-drops from his zig-zag briefs; behind him, discreetly positioned on the bathroom wall, is a crucifix. On the sleeve of 1999 (1982) he reclines naked like a Playboy centrefold, in a neon-dappled boudoir. (His hobbies include horse riding, watercolours and pop eschatology …) On the sleeve of Dirty Mind he wears little more than a ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... a plank missing from the footbridge, natives grading into Portuguese without shame, a grilling sea-wall, its pavement burst up by the waves, houses built on white piles, with chickens ducks cookery and washing sharing the basement, a desolate and grilling public garden, and the sea full of floating brown pennies of oil. This short passage shows a spontaneous ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... Collections of the notable figures are beginning to appear: J.H. Prynne, Barry MacSweeney, Wendy Mulford, John James, with decent selections of Bill Griffiths, Allen Fisher, Douglas Oliver. And glimpses of many others, the reforgotten: John Temple, Anna Mendelssohn. It is a truth, unilaterally acknowledged (Cambridge and environs), that Raworth is the ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... pink and white. Yellow pom-poms of japonica, horticultural cheerleaders. In a corner, under a high wall that gives away the previous identity of this public park as a decommissioned energy-generating plant, retired workers sway, stiffly and slowly, in t’ai chi ballets. I’m fascinated by the elderly Chinese couple who circle every morning for more than an ...

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