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Chiara Ridolfi

C.K. Stead, 9 October 1986

by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 223105 0
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The Dresden Gate 
by Michael Schmidt.
Hutchinson, 152 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 09 165510 2
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First Fictions: Introduction 9 
by Deborah Moffat, Kristien Hemmerechts, Douglas Glover, Dorothy Nimmo and Jaci Stephen.
Faber, 255 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13607 9
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by Jim Crace.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 434 14824 5
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... answers to its own implied questions. It is a work of strange, muted power and intelligence. Michael Schmidt doesn’t make entry to The Dresden Gate easy. For quite some time I was totally confused about how the various characters related one to another. And I never understood why these people with Spanish names in an unspecified South or Central ...

Everything is susceptible

Douglas Dunn, 20 March 1980

Poems 1962-1978 
by Derek Mahon.
Oxford, 117 pp., £5.75, November 1979, 0 19 211898 6
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The Echo Gate 
by Michael Longley.
Secker, 53 pp., £3, November 1979, 0 436 25680 0
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Poets from the North of Ireland 
edited by Frank Ormsby.
Blackstaff, 232 pp., £6.50, October 1979, 9780856402012
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... as much as nature itself are the sources of his metamorphosising imagination. Unlike Ted Hughes or Seamus Heaney, he has never felt the need to make his diction coincide with the rugged or violent nature he depicts. In a previously uncollected poem, ‘A Kind of People’, he writes: Umbrellas and parasols, Like old navy raincoats, Sewing ...

Mon Pays

Michael Rogin: Josephine Baker, 22 February 2001

The Josephine Baker Story 
by Ean Wood.
Sanctuary, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 86074 286 6
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Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s 
by Petrine Archer-Straw.
Thames and Hudson, 200 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 0 500 28135 1
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... Hall and spoke from the platform during the March on Washington. (Ean Wood wonders if Langston Hughes, who knew Baker in Paris in the 1920s, had her in mind when he included the verse ‘Look at that gal shake that thing./We can’t all be Martin Luther King’ in the second edition of his anthology, The Poetry of the Negro; the lines were originally ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore, 10 August 2000

Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... and writing, began to hang out together. In the summer of 1964, Jacqueline and their son Michael went to Long Island while Brian stayed in New York working on The Emperor of Ice-Cream. Frank Russell, who had won a Guggenheim for his nature writing, also left New York. Brian and Jean became lovers that summer, and not long afterwards Jacqueline and ...


Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... his most recent full-length opera, Gawain, has an ambitious verse libretto by David Harsent. Ted Hughes once wrote a libretto for Gordon Crosse. The Story of Vasco, whose subject-matter involves crows, is an interesting opera by a composer who has now, regrettably, stopped composing. The poet John Birtwhistle supplied David Blake with the libretto for his ...

Return of the Native

Hugh Barnes, 7 March 1985

The Final Passage 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 205 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 571 13437 8
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Merle, and Other Stories 
by Paule Marshall.
Virago, 210 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 86068 665 5
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Heaven and Earth 
by Frederic Raphael.
Cape, 310 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 224 02294 6
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The Tenth Man 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780370308319
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... of his novel, leading us back from impending departure into the events of the previous year. Michael is an unprepossessing family man. He takes what he likes and abuses the rest, which is sometimes his wife. When her pregnancy entered its advanced stages, she became useless, no longer pleasurable, and he left her for the consolations of his ...

I can’t, I can’t

Anne Diebel: Edel v. the Rest, 21 November 2013

Monopolising the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship 
by Michael Anesko.
Stanford, 280 pp., £30.50, March 2012, 978 0 8047 6932 7
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... his bowels were the subjects of countless agonised (and, for the robust William, trying) letters. Michael Anesko’s archivally heroic and at times scandalmongering book traces the way the legendary Master took hold of the public imagination while stifling the real James. Monopolising the Master opens with James’s own efforts to determine his posthumous ...

Freedom of the Press

Anthony Lewis, 26 November 1987

... five to four, the Court found that the Minnesota law violated the First Amendment. Chief Justice Hughes, who wrote the opinion, devoted much of it to a discussion of English legal history: the struggle against licensing of the press, and Blackstone’s conclusion that the liberty of the press meant putting no previous restraints or publication. But then ...


Robert Morley, 7 July 1983

Downing Street in Perspective 
by Marcia Falkender.
Weidenfeld, 280 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 297 78107 3
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... in the land, announced his resignation that morning. Not only Baroness Falkender but also Sean Hughes, the prospective Parliamentary candidate for Harold’s seat, describes the moment: he was teaching a class and was summoned from his desk by a caretaker, who commanded him to go home and change into a suit. ‘When I asked him what he was talking ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... been one of my strongest, most lasting influences.’ Readers might wonder where the poetry of Hughes, Heaney or Hill would be without some filtering of the tradition of Old English accentual poetry through Auden or Hopkins. Hopkins’s use of Old English is well-known (‘a vastly superior thing to what we have now’), but perhaps not the fact that ...


Tam Dalyell: Questions for Mrs Thatcher, 23 July 1987

... Reform Bills, and the loss of its MP, one of the ministerial architects of the poll tax, Michael Ancram; or the fact that they came within the narrowest shave of losing their Defence Secretary George Younger, in Ayr – by general consent a good constituency MP, and a very possible successor to Mrs Thatcher. In crude terms, the Scots found the ...


Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... all goes more smoothly. We are given the necessary information about the likes of Hockney, Ted Hughes, John Berger, Germaine Greer and Noam Chomsky. Structuralism and Post-Structuralism (‘a logical enough outcome’) are briskly explained, Barthes, Lacan and Derrida rush by, Foucault and Althüsser get a rather breathless mention as part of the ...


Inigo Thomas: New York Megacity, 16 August 2007

... up years ago – and because of it too: the pace of change has picked up since then. The mayor, Michael Bloomberg, sometimes talks about the importance of tourism to New York as if tourists were more important to the city than its inhabitants, but when you consider that 44 million tourists visited the city last year – an increase of 25 per cent since 2001 ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... seven months at the Press Lehmann made his first appearance as an editor when he commissioned Michael Roberts’s New Signatures (February 1932), which included contributions from Julian Bell, Richard Eberhart, William Empson, Cecil Day Lewis, Stephen Spender, William Plomer and Lehmann himself. Through Spender he met Christopher Isherwood. The friendship ...

Call that a coalition?

Ross McKibbin, 5 April 2012

... forward. The willingness of the Lib Dems to accept an apparent fait accompli, like the NHS Bill or Michael Gove’s education ‘revolution’ or even the extent of the spending cuts, was the result not simply of parliamentary weakness or feeble leadership, but of the ambiguities of their own policy and rhetoric. For the last thirty years or so, the Lib Dems ...

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