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Peerie Breeks

Robert Crawford: Willa and Edwin Muir, 21 September 2023

Edwin and Willa MuirA Literary Marriage 
by Margery Palmer McCulloch.
Oxford, 350 pp., £100, March, 978 0 19 285804 7
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The Usurpers 
by Willa Muir, edited by Anthony Hirst and Jim Potts.
Colenso, 290 pp., £15, March, 978 1 912788 27 9
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... I was born before the Industrial Revolution,’ Edwin Muir wrote in The Story and the Fable (1940),and am now about two hundred years old. But I have skipped a hundred and fifty of them. I was really born in 1737, and till I was fourteen no time-accidents happened to me. Then in 1751 I set out from Orkney for Glasgow ...

Bad Faith

J.P. Stern, 21 July 1983

Franz Kafka’s Loneliness 
by Marthe Robert, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780571119455
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Kafka’s Narrators 
by Roy Pascal.
Cambridge, 251 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 521 24365 3
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The Trial 
by Franz Kafka, translated by Willa Muir and Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 255 pp., £1.75, October 1983, 0 14 000907 8
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Letters to Milena 
by Franz Kafka and Willy Haas, translated by Tania Stern and James Stern.
Penguin, 188 pp., £2.50, June 1983, 0 14 006380 3
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The Penguin Complete Novels of Franz Kafka: ‘The Trial’, ‘The Castle’, ‘America’ 
translated by Willa Muir, illustrated by Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 638 pp., £4.95, June 1983, 0 14 009009 6
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The Penguin Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka 
edited by Nahum Glatzer.
Penguin, 486 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 14 009008 8
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... which (as the ‘Josephine’ story tells us) there is no such thing as art. The republication of Willa and Edwin Muir’s Kafka translations recalls that it was they who made Kafka’s name famous and his texts accessible in the English-speaking world, albeit in a translation which was unduly coloured by their own ...

Flight of Snakes

Tessa Hadley: Emily Holmes Coleman, 7 September 2023

The Shutter of Snow 
by Emily Holmes Coleman.
Faber, 171 pp., £9.99, February, 978 0 571 37520 2
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... worked for a while as Goldman’s secretary) to Peggy Guggenheim – as well as Edwin and Willa Muir, Ford Madox Ford and Ernest Hemingway. She crops up in everyone’s memoirs, and seems to have been very close to Guggenheim, but she wasn’t just a hanger-on, and played a significant part in getting Barnes’s Nightwood into print. She fell in ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... explorations are being rediscovered in the late stories of Margaret Oliphant and the novels of Willa Muir and Catherine Carswell. Young women writers are finding that they have a Scottish tradition behind them as well as imaginative and ideological links to work from elsewhere. Yet at least as striking is the way in which the younger generation of ...

Four Poems

Robert Crawford, 21 February 2002

... Montrose El Greco’s Toledo, shining over water, A Scoto-Spanish, kirky Tir nan Og, While Willa and Edwin Muir, in Willa’s mum’s Draper’s shop, talk sex, conscious that past Their douce seaside cosmology of golf balls Where fiddlers jig and ‘The Democratic ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown, 22 February 2007

George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... and the dance of words were the whole meaning.’ Though the poetry of his fellow Orcadian Edwin Muir baffled him, he heard in it a beguiling ‘secret and exact music’. Brown learned much from musical masters such as Tennyson, Hopkins, Eliot and Dylan Thomas, although at his best he could cut free from them and write with a plain clarity: A silent ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... been so keen to be a Hugh not a Christopher, and a MacDiarmid not a Grieve.MILLER: It was Edwin Muir’s great joke about MacDiarmid’s acolytes. ‘Men of sorrow and acquainted with Grieve.’Lichen covered the wet stone. We went inside the church and signed the book. The place seemed recently abandoned. A Bible was open on an oak table and dead flowers ...

A Lone Enraptured Male

Kathleen Jamie: The Cult of the Wild, 6 March 2008

The Wild Places 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Granta, 340 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 1 86207 941 0
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... it with phosphorus and calcium, to the detriment of rare alpine plants.A delicate issue. The John Muir Trust and the other owners of the land around Ben Nevis have constructed a ‘Memorial Site for Contemplation’ at the foot of the mountain, and are removing the memorials from the open hill. As for ashes, well, the Nevis Partnership says: try throwing them ...

Double Thought

Michael Wood: Kafka in the Office, 20 November 2008

Franz Kafka: The Office Writings 
edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg and Benno Wagner, translated by Eric Patton and Ruth Hein.
Princeton, 404 pp., £26.95, November 2008, 978 0 691 12680 7
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... Castle I have taken most of the translations in this piece, renders the word as ‘hopeless’. Willa and Edwin Muir have ‘dismal and cheerless’, J.A. Underwood has ‘bleak’. I also rather like ‘desolate’ myself, but all of these words point in the right direction. Trostlos can also be used of a dreary ...

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