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Dry Eyes

John Bayley, 5 December 1991

Jump and Other Stories 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1020 2
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Wilderness Tips 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 247 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 1019 9
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... in particular remind me of those by an expert in the art from a previous generation, Elizabeth Bowen. ‘Wilderness Tips’, which is about a nice family at their lakeside holiday home, and the city interloper who has married among them, would have specially pleased the older artist. The daughters of the house all have matching names ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... at a circle of readers in London and New York. (He has evidently succeeded in that aim: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has just bestowed on him its ‘Genius Award’ – $250,000 with no strings attached.) Edward Kamau Brathwaite is also familiar with that circle, having carried off a Cholmondley Award in this country and a ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... heard before, of how Wheldon and the BBC went to inordinate lengths to block the publication of John Bowen’s novel The Birdcage because it featured the presenter of a television arts programme who in appearance and manner (‘a kind of scoutmaster of culture presenting units from his troop to the viewers for 45 minutes every Friday night’) seemed ...

One for the road

Ian Hamilton, 21 March 1991

Memoirs 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 346 pp., £16.99, March 1991, 0 09 174533 0
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... when we would like to know just how much inventing has been done. Did Philip Larkin really say of John Wain: ‘No advantage of birth or position or looks or talent – nothing, and look where he is now’? If I was John Wain, I would want to be sure of the exact words. According to Amis, Wain used to think of Larkin as a ...

Soft Cop, Hard Cop

Seamus Deane, 19 October 1995

Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 355 pp., £18.95, May 1995, 1 85984 932 6
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... from them. Eagleton’s reading of the so-called Anglo-Irish novel, from Edgeworth to Elizabeth Bowen, is based on this analysis, although the analysis itself comes in for a good deal of interrogation on the way. It is part of his understanding that material realities (e.g. land) are so differently understood in the British and the Irish situations that ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... like Robert Stone and Joyce Carol Oates. He got mugged by realism. He realised that Elizabeth Bowen is just as good as Virginia Woolf but without the ‘affected prose style’, and that the selling of high art is ‘just one more form of commercialism’. The break came when he was assigned to review a collection by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The gripping ...

Broken Knowledge

Frank Kermode, 4 August 1983

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 383 pp., £9.50, March 1983, 0 19 214111 2
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The Travellers’ Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
Routledge, 1022 pp., £24.95, April 1983, 0 7100 0992 5
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... way things are all manner of discontinuous instrumentalities, and one of these is the aphorism. So John Gross’s Oxford Book of Aphorisms might, if properly used, be less a book to nod over than a neo-philosophical catena, an instance of the edifying that ousts the epistemological. As a matter of fact, it contains some strong anti-systematic ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... whole event in some sane perspective? They cannot retreat into a grand carelessness until they are John le Carré or John Fowles. They might begin, however, by running through the list of previous winners and working out how many of the last 19 would feature in any ‘true’ list of Top 19 Novels 1969-87. They might observe ...

The Killing of Blair Peach

David Renton, 22 May 2014

... cent of the population had been born in the New Commonwealth. The National Front’s candidate, John Fairhurst, had stood in nearby Hayes and Harlington in the two 1974 elections. He wasn’t standing in Southall in the hope of securing a high vote, but because the NF thought putting up a candidate there would get them publicity. On 23 April, 2875 police ...

Phantom Jacks

John Bayley, 5 January 1989

Jack: C.S. Lewis and His Times 
by George Sayer.
Macmillan, 278 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 333 43362 9
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J.B. Priestley 
by Vincent Brome.
Hamish Hamilton, 512 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 9780241125601
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Eddy: The Life of Edward Sackville-West 
by Michael De-la-Noy.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £16, October 1988, 0 370 31164 7
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... story after he had been in Berlin with Harold Nicolson, and it was reprinted in 1937 by Elizabeth Bowen in the Faber Book of Short Stories. I would unhesitatingly say that it is far better, more unforgettable, than anything by the two Jacks, but it hardly matters who wrote it, and its author will no doubt disappear from public view before they do. There is a ...

A New Verismo

John Bayley, 8 January 1987

The Master Eccentric: The Journals of Rayner Heppenstall 1969-1981 
edited by Jonathan Goodman.
Allison and Busby, 278 pp., £14.95, December 1986, 0 85031 536 0
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The Pier 
by Rayner Heppenstall.
Allison and Busby, 192 pp., £9.95, December 1986, 9780850314502
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... the start of the Second World War, remains the most memorable. It had a foreword by Elizabeth Bowen, rather surprisingly, and was certainly very similar in its atmosphere and method to the French novels which were to become the fashion after the war, although it was also unmistakably Anglo-Saxon, the French ghost impalpable and, at that early date, even ...

The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... The dust jacket of the final volume of Bevis Hillier’s epic life of John Betjeman shows the poet laureate seized by giggles. In this lengthy coda to Hillier’s authorised biography Betjeman appears in many lights, but he’s rarely carefree. ‘Nothing frightens me more than the thought of dying,’ he told a friend in 1958 ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell, 2 December 2010

J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... took shape rapidly and was published in 1970, winning praise from William Trevor and Elizabeth Bowen. ‘If I had bothered to look at [my] diary,’ he noted two months after its publication, ‘I wd also have used the “flight of stone steps leading up into thin air”, which I simply forgot.’ He had added a detail to his version of the ruins: ‘a ...

Angela and the Beast

Patricia Craig, 5 December 1985

Black Venus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 121 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3964 1
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Come unto these yellow sands 
by Angela Carter.
Bloodaxe, 158 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 906427 66 5
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Mainland 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 285 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 241 11643 0
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The Accidental Tourist 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 355 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2986 7
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Arrows of Longing 
by Virginia Moriconi.
Duckworth, 252 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780715620694
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... of the Radio Age’, and acknowledges the strong effect on her of the annual Box of Delights – John Masefield’s exemplary exercise in quintessential Christmas makebelieve. Is this one source of Angela Carter’s feeling for the fantastic? What she shares with Masefield – the Masefield of the Kay Harker stories anyway – is an ability to locate her ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes, 18 June 1998

Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... testified that he could manage on £1000 a year net. V.S. Pritchett needed a bit more. Elizabeth Bowen raised a few eyebrows at the time by confessing that ‘I would like to have £3500 a year net’ and Cyril Connolly, who organised Horizon’s survey, opted for ‘five pounds a day’ – £100 a day today: ‘If he is to enjoy leisure and ...

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