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Another Mother

Frank Kermode, 13 May 1993

Morgan: A Biography of E.M. Forster 
by Nicola Beauman.
Hodder, 404 pp., £20, May 1993, 0 340 52530 4
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... the moment of conception when, in the house of Edward Carpenter, the sage’s friend George Merrill touched him on the backside. But, as we have already noticed, Mrs Beauman never hesitates to correct Forster if his version of the facts conflicts with her intuitions; he can always be represented as slyly covering something up. (So, for that matter, can ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman, 2 July 2015

The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... interesting ways (such as Ashbery’s 17-line ‘And Others, Vaguer Presences’). Frost, Larkin, Merrill, Heaney and others succeeded in producing modern sonnets in traditional form that feel natural in expression, as Yeats did with ‘Leda and the Swan’ – still a dazzler. But a long sonnet sequence along the lines of Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella ...

How to Get Screwed

David Runciman, 6 June 2019

The Mueller Report: Presented With Related Materials by the ‘Washington Post’ 
Simon and Schuster, 736 pp., £12.99, May 2019, 978 1 4711 8617 2Show More
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... for the Trump campaign on an unpaid basis. He had no evident qualifications: a few years at Merrill Lynch, a stint in Moscow, an unpublishable PhD on oil and gas in the ex-Soviet Union. But he offered to broker connections between Trump and senior Russian officials. He also dangled the prospect of a direct meeting with Putin. This was dressed up as a ...

Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín: Diane Arbus, 2 March 2017

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer 
by Arthur Lubow.
Cape, 734 pp., £35, October 2016, 978 0 224 09770 3
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Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov 
by Alexander Nemerov.
Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp., $30, March 2015, 978 1 881337 41 6
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... they didn’t really talk back.’ At an early showing of Freaks in January 1932, the art director Merrill Pye remembered, ‘Halfway through the preview, a lot of people got up and ran out. They didn’t walk out. They ran out.’ A woman who attended tried to sue the studio, ‘claiming the film had induced a miscarriage’. The strangeness of the film, and ...

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 saviour’ and was touched ‘just above the buttocks’ by Carpenter’s lover George Merrill. ‘The sensation was unusual … It was as much psychological as physical. It seemed to go straight through the small of my back into my ideas, without involving my thoughts.’ The sense of succession, not always so Whitmanically electric, would in due ...

It’s Finished

John Lanchester: The Banks, 28 May 2009

... the 17th century, when English and European commerce was expanding by leaps and bounds,’ James Buchan wrote in Frozen Desire, ‘the best Scots minds felt acutely the shortage of … what we’d now call working capital; and Scots promoters were at the forefront of banking schemes in both London and Edinburgh, culminating in the foundation of the ...

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