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Lawful Charm

Donald Davie, 6 July 1995

Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, edited by Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 171 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 042379 6
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Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, read by Alan Chedzoy.
Canto, £6.99
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... Barnes’s poems prompt no new questions about poetry, and no new convictions about it. The hoariest truths about poetry will always be new and questionable to some people, especially those (they are many) who think that poetry is a certainty-free zone from which, because ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth,’ all categorical assertions are debarred as dogmatic, as ‘prescriptive ...

Necessary Bishop

John Robinson, 3 July 1980

Ahead of his Age: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham 
by John Barnes.
Collins, 487 pp., £12.95, November 1979, 0 00 216087 0
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... can rub up the Establishment. One such who was to rise higher and stay longer than most was Ernest William Barnes (1874-1953), for nearly thirty years Bishop of Birmingham, an office to which he was nominated by Ramsay MacDonald, who also appointed Hewlett Johnson as ‘red’ Dean of Canterbury. Barnes’s career could ...

Faber Book of Groans

Christopher Ricks, 1 March 1984

Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 
by Philip Larkin.
Faber, 315 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 571 13120 4
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... himself almost entirely to writers who are usually condescended to as ‘minor’ (Housman, William Barnes, de la Mare, Betjeman) is itself a various and sustained argument for inverting the usual priorities and for seeing these poets’ virtues as the truly important ones. Indeed, Larkin can retrieve the word ‘minor’ as an ally not to be ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... much that France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my contemporaries’), George Herbert, Vaughan, Crabbe, Hopkins, Whitman, Campion, Morris, Christina Rossetti, John Crowe Ransom, Wyndham ...

Tennyson’s Text

Danny Karlin, 12 November 1987

The Poems of Tennyson 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Longman, 662 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 582 49239 4
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Tennyson’s ‘Maud’: A Definitive Edition 
edited by Susan Shatto.
Athlone, 296 pp., £28, August 1986, 0 485 11294 9
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The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Vol.2: 1851-1870 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 585 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 19 812691 3
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The New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 654 pp., £15.95, June 1987, 0 19 214154 6
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... their earliest included poem). The first half of the book has (in order) Tennyson, Emily Brontë, William Barnes, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Clare, Carroll, Clough, Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, and Arnold, who, fittingly, is the pivotal figure. After this, though big names are not lacking, their contribution weighs less, in several ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... the management of the Civil Service, which was then reaching a pitch of folly under the late Sir William (afterwards Lord) Armstrong’. On the Look-Out is also, it should be said, often very funny, with touches of dry, sometimes self-mocking humour that can almost escape notice. This, for instance, is how he describes his resignation, under a cloud, from ...
Djuna Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... a lukewarm, intelligent face. She might be an actress, a spy, a photographer. The woman is Djuna Barnes. What I am looking for, and can’t see, is the grotesque, the decadent, the rotten; the slop, the left-over, the bilious. Where did she store it all? Where did that live? Djuna Barnes was born in 1892 in a log cabin on ...

From a Summer to an Autumn

Michael Wood: Julian Barnes, 9 May 2013

Levels of Life 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 118 pp., £10.99, April 2013, 978 0 224 09815 1
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... Julian Barnes invites us to visit what he calls a ‘tropic of grief’ that is wilder and bleaker than anything in the pages of Lévi-Strauss’s great memoir. But Barnes does not refuse the word ‘sad’, because, he suggests, one of the first things we should understand about grief is its banality, its need of ordinary old words that may seem flat but will not seem evasive ...

Irishtown

D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

Ironweed 
by William Kennedy.
Viking, 227 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 670 40176 5
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In Custody 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780434186358
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Flaubert’s Parrot 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 190 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 241 11374 1
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... all in the literary-prize-winning league, tell us of areas with which we are probably unfamiliar. William Kennedy’s Ironweed is about Albany, capital of the State of New York. Julian Barnes writes about the France of Gustave Flaubert, as discussed in an irrational, pedantic manner by a British admirer of Flaubert’s ...

Pity the monsters

Richard Altick, 18 December 1980

The Elephant Man 
by Bernard Pomerance.
Faber, 71 pp., £2.25, June 1980, 0 571 11569 1
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The Elephant Man: the Book of the Film 
by Joy Kuhn.
Virgin, 90 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 9780907080091
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The Elephant Man 
by Christine Sparks.
Futura, 272 pp., £1.25, August 1980, 0 7088 1942 7
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The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences 
by Frederick Treves.
Star, 126 pp., £95, August 1980, 0 352 30747 1
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The Elephant Man and Other Freaks 
by Sian Richards.
Futura, 197 pp., £1.25, October 1980, 0 7088 1927 3
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The True History of the Elephant Man 
by Michael Howell and Peter Ford.
Allison and Busby, 190 pp., £6.95, March 1980, 0 85031 353 8
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... man: as respected and influential as his own early schoolmaster in Dorset, the dialect poet William Barnes. These professional distinctions had no more to do with his service to the Elephant Man than did his lifelong devotion to literature (he once wrote a book on Browning’s The Ring and the Book, illustrated with 100 photographs he had taken at ...

Hitler and History

Hans Keller, 5 February 1981

Hitler 
by Norman Stone.
Hodder, 195 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 340 24980 3
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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ in Britain and America: A Publishing History 1930-39 
by James Barnes and Patience Barnes.
Cambridge, 158 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 521 22691 0
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The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany 
by Peter Paret.
Harvard, 262 pp., £10.50, December 1980, 0 674 06773 8
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German Romantic Painting 
by William Vaughan.
Yale, 260 pp., £19.95, October 1980, 0 300 02387 1
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... Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. has been reviewed in these pages, nor are Norman Stone, James J. Barnes and Patience P. Barnes always less fanciful. And if Hitler’s personality remains an unanswered question, so too, does the history of National Socialism – which a book like Robert Harbison’s recent Deliberate ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... reader. The other day, for instance, I turned up the following harmless statement about myself: Barnes, Julian 1946- Julian Barnes intends to keep his manuscripts and typescripts in his own possession for the foreseeable future [information supplied by the author, March 1987]. I thought that sounded a bit pompous. Who ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... more populist contenders like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Mrs Humphry Ward’s The Marriage of William Ashe. In 1910 Howards End might have run into Clayhanger, and (Wells again) The History of Mr Polly; perhaps the Antipodean outsider Henry Handel Richardson would have scooped it with The Getting of Wisdom. In 1924 Forster’s publishers might have ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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Striker 
by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... also find evidence of it in unlikely places. The most likely place, of course, is Whitehall and William Camp discovers rot setting in there or already set in: the unions hold the country to ransom, a handful of businessmen make a profit out of hard times, and politicians fall over backwards, sometimes literally, to disgrace themselves. Hooliganism ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

Metroland 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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Creator 
by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... novelists, however, look back in different moods and at different primal events and seedtimes. For William Golding (Darkness Visible) the focus was the Blitz and the Second World War, which secreted the modern age’s poison as a bee secretes honey. In Angus Wilson’s latest work (Setting the World on Fire) the narrative hinges on the crucial Suez-Hungary ...

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