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5 December 1991
Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... in England, published and praised. The collected poems appeared in 1971. Yet Lowell and Berryman are famous names here, Jarrell’s not one to set beside them. Even in his own country, his biographer WilliamPritchard says, his reputation ‘is not nearly so firm and pre-eminent as I think it deserves to be’. This biography and a selection from the poems (a severe weeding, no more than a fifth ...
4 July 1985
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered 
by William Pritchard.
Oxford, 186 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 19 503462 7
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... almost 39. He had been writing poetry, most of it unpublished, for some twenty years, and the difference in style was striking. Set beside the early work of Pound and Eliot (or of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, for that matter), Frost’s ‘simple’ lyrics might have seemed to be some sort of throwback – as if they belonged far down the back slope of the great Modernist watershed. But ...

Cairo Essays

Edmund Leach

4 December 1980
Evans-Pritchard 
by Mary Douglas.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.50, March 1980, 0 00 634006 7
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... that the editorial problem may well have shifted from choosing a master who deserves the accolade to finding a biographer to bestow it. Why else should Malinowski still be left off the list but Evans-Pritchard (E-P to all who knew him but not in this book), Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford from 1946-1970, gain the crown? But if E-P be held to deserve apotheosis then Mary Douglas ...

Close Cozenage

David Wootton

23 May 1996
Astrology and the 17th-Century Mind: William​ Lilly and the Language of the Stars 
by Ann Geneva.
Manchester, 298 pp., £40, June 1995, 0 7190 4154 6
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... William Lilly was the first to produce a major textbook of astrology in the English language, at a time when the truth of astrology was almost universally recognised. At their peak in the 1650s his almanacs ...

Dark and Deep

Helen Vendler

4 July 1996
Robert Frost: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Constable, 424 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 09 476130 2
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Collected Poems, Prose and Plays 
by Robert Frost, edited by Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson.
Library of America, 1036 pp., $35, October 1995, 9781883011062
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... Notes on Robert Frost, 1939-1967’) necessarily shapes all subsequent work. Admirers of Frost were scandalised by the animus they perceived in the Thompson biography; one response, represented by WilliamPritchard’s admirably balanced Frost: A Literary Life Recognised (1984), was to offer only a brief account of the biographical facts, and then centre attention on the poetry, giving Frost’s art ...

A Lethal Fall

Barbara Everett: Larkin and Chandler

11 May 2006
... High Windows’ retain the Symbolist quality that is haughty, obscure and esoteric. But the rest of the poem suggests a quite dissimilar literary world, toughly at ease with its own brutalities. WilliamPritchard has written well on the vivacity the younger Larkin learned (with Auden, it has to be added, as a forerunner) from the playful rhythms and rememberable idioms of dance-music lyrics. His ...

Self-Positioning

Stefan Collini: The Movement

25 June 2009
The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... main groups: the poet-critics (Blake Morrison, Craig Raine, James Fenton, Alan Jenkins, Clive Wilmer), the academics (Nicholas Jenkins, Terry Castle, Colin McGinn, Deborah Cameron, Deborah Bowman, WilliamPritchard, Eric Homberger, Michael O’Neill, Rachel Buxton) and the memoirists (Karl Miller, Anthony Thwaite, Robert Conquest), though several of them can lay claim to more than one of these ...

Places Never Explained

Colm Tóibín: Anthony Hecht

8 August 2013
The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht 
edited by Jonathan Post.
Johns Hopkins, 365 pp., £18, November 2012, 978 1 4214 0730 2
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... Falls, where, as Swift writes, ‘he worked in the mail room and was later transferred to the Interviewing and Classification Department. It was hardly a heroic war.’ But he did write heroically. WilliamPritchard, in his biography of Jarrell, says that ‘in letter after letter, Jarrell turned the routine, the boredom, the loneliness and the wastefulness of army life far from the zones of combat ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves

11 October 2018
Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... to his parents and his death was announced in the Times (the paper was decent enough to print a correction without charge). In 1918, returned from the dead, he married Nancy Nicholson (daughter of William Nicholson the painter, sister to Ben Nicholson and herself a skilful illustrator and designer), with whom he had three children by 1922, although it was never quite clear how keen the strongly ...
23 May 1996
After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... tracks emerged, some longer and more heavily travelled than others but all petering out sooner or later (call them ‘errors’). The strategy for the historian – for example, Lowie in 1937, Evans-Pritchard in 1965 on the history of religion, or Harris in 1968 – lay in the canny selection of a privileged series of ancestors, especially important in a field like anthropology where until seventy years ...
8 May 1997
Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... Worcester in 1993. Four years on, Beyond the Frontier is a volume of material set aside far earlier. Indeed, there occurs in it a passing reference to ‘the raw material for half-finished books on William Blake and Customs in Common’, works long since published. From the mid-Eighties mountainous illness surrounded Edward, from which he nonetheless retrieved the last big works: Customs in Common ...

And Cabbages Too

Patrick Collinson: The Tudors

22 March 2001
New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors 1485-1603 
by Susan Brigden.
Allen Lane, 434 pp., £20, September 2000, 0 7139 9067 8
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... was not the same thing, or place, in all those centuries, and for much of the time there was no such historical entity: only a name and a geographical notion. Towards the end of the 16th century, William Camden published his Britannia, the intention of which was to inform learned Continental readers that the modern English nation state, which was increasingly dominant in the British Isles, was the ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead

6 March 2014
Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... premarital sex prevailed, there was something approaching no-fault divorce, and everybody masturbated. Mead seems not to have anticipated the sensation her research would generate. Her publisher, William Morrow, knew better. He asked Mead to add a more explicit chapter on the way her study related to Americans, and printed Coming of Age in Samoa with an image on the cover of a young island couple ...

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