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Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... extent filled in by Surviving, a book of Green’s uncollected writings edited by his grandson Matthew Yorke, and rounded off with a touching if too brief memoir by Sebastian Yorke. John Updike contributes a gracefully enthusiastic introduction. For Green, writing fiction was so demanding – partly because he could only work at it in the evenings and at ...

Is it always my fault?

Denis Donoghue: T.S. Eliot, 25 January 2007

T.S. Eliot 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 202 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 19 530993 5
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... and ‘Evidence in the Eliot Case’ (1996) – this last featuring a notably unkind commentary on Christopher Ricks’s editing of Eliot’s Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-17. In the new book, as in these essays, Raine assumes that his readers are likely to be ‘somewhat impure and apt to confuse issues’. It is my impression that he remained ...

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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... biblical scholarship and how cholera is spread as well as the imperial mission civilisatrice. Matthew Webb, the central figure in The Singapore Grip, chooses similarly inopportune moments to puzzle over British capital’s effects on South-East Asia. But Farrell’s most characteristic ploy is to embody abstractions in comically proliferating ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... and the project was fortunate to find the ideal man for the job in the Oxford historian Colin Matthew, who had demonstrated his capacity for the task in his monumental edition of the Gladstone diaries. Matthew became the founding editor of the ODNB in 1992, and much of the credit for both the conception and the early ...


Christopher Ricks, 16 September 1982

Dissentient Voice: Enlightenment and Christian Dissent 
by Donald Davie.
University of Notre Dame Press, 154 pp., £11.85, June 1982, 0 268 00852 3
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These the Companions 
by Donald Davie.
Cambridge, 220 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 521 24511 7
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... that anybody as stupid as that has ever been granted the friendship of Donald Davie. Ian Watt and Matthew Hodgart, who are the friends who had just been mentioned in the vicinity of Voltaire, have been able to write as well as they have done about Conrad and about Johnson just because their respect for the Enlightenment has never been so fatuous as to ...

Version of Pastoral

Christopher Ricks, 2 April 1987

The Enigma of Arrival: A Novel in Five Sections 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Viking, 318 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 81576 4
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... it is well managed, both as duly curbed and as duly given play. Naipaul has long possessed what Matthew Arnold praised in Dryden and himself manifested in the moment of praise: ‘a prose such as we would all gladly use if we only knew how’. But the prose of The Enigma of Arrival is a new departure and arrival, though entirely continuous with the old ...

For good or bad

Christopher Ricks, 19 December 1985

Easy Pieces 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Columbia, 218 pp., $20, June 1985, 0 231 06018 1
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... But then Hartman is in a difficult position, as a self and as a performing character. Matthew Arnold is still the enemy, yet Hartman is enough of a realist to know that there is at least some truth in Arnold’s conviction that the duty of a critic – social and literary – is to resist the impulses of the age, or the community, whenever they ...

Appelfeld 1990

Christopher Ricks, 8 February 1990

... remember Ruskin’s murmur: ‘I am afraid Wordsworth was often affected in his simplicity.’ Or Matthew Arnold’s insistence that what in Wordsworth is true simplicity can become in Tennyson the affected thing, simplesse:French criticism, richer in its vocabulary than ours, has invented a useful word to distinguish this semblance (often very beautiful and ...

Putting on the Plum

Christopher Tayler: Richard Flanagan, 31 October 2002

Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish 
by Richard Flanagan.
Atlantic, 404 pp., £16.99, June 2002, 1 84354 021 5
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... evidence of gross degeneracy – the same fate, incidentally, as that of an analogous character in Matthew Kneale’s novel English Passengers. Gould, meanwhile, is accused of the doctor’s murder and sent to the prison in which he begins to write his manuscript. Before he sets to work, though, he makes another discovery. Climbing through the space left by a ...


Christopher Ricks, 3 May 1984

Swift: The Man, His Works and the Age: Vol III. Dean Swift 
by Irvin Ehrenpreis.
Methuen, 1066 pp., £40, December 1983, 0 416 85400 1
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Swift’s Tory Politics 
by F.P. Lock.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £18, November 1983, 0 7156 1755 9
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Jonathan Swift: Political Writer 
by J.A. Downie.
Routledge, 391 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 7100 9645 3
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The Character of Swift’s Satire 
edited by Claude Rawson.
Associated University Presses, 343 pp., £22.50, April 1984, 0 87413 209 6
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... too self-conscious. ‘The great art of criticism is to get oneself out of the way,’ said Matthew Arnold, and such is the great art of biography. One day in mid-March, as Swift sat in his chair, he reached towards a knife. But Mrs Ridgeway moved it away from him. He shrugged his shoulders, rocked himself, and said, ‘I am what I am, I am what I ...

Happy Babble

Christopher Prendergast, 7 March 1996

Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton 
by Mark Polizzotti.
Bloomsbury, 754 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 7475 1281 7
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... Revolutionary Tribunal, Fouquier-Tinville, to whom one of Breton’s colleagues once compared him. Matthew Josephson described him as resembling ‘one of the old Jacobin leaders’. The real give-away came from Breton himself: denouncing Tzara, he observed that ‘it would not be a bad thing to re-institute the laws of the Terror for the things of the ...

A Knife at the Throat

Christopher Tayler: Meticulously modelled, 3 March 2005

by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 280 pp., £17.99, February 2005, 0 224 07299 4
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... Towards the end, the redemptive power of literature comes crashing onto the stage in the person of Matthew Arnold. ‘Dover Beach’ plays a crucial role, and in one sense it’s a well-chosen poem: the confused alarms and ignorant armies chime nicely with the novel’s public themes. But even McEwan’s powers of persuasion can’t make the scene in which it ...


Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds, 22 November 2018

... to live chiefly in Barbary or Abyssinia’. In the late 1860s, with the publication of Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, the word ‘barbarian’ acquired a new resonance. Arnold loosely divided English society into three classes, the Philistines (the middle classes), the Populace (the working classes) and the Barbarians (the aristocracy). In ...


Robert Crawford, 3 October 1996

The Poems of Ossian and Related Works 
by James Macpherson, edited by Howard Gaskill.
Edinburgh, 573 pp., £16.95, January 1996, 0 7486 0707 2
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... and Thomas Jefferson, who said that Ossian was better than Homer. It was also Ossian by way of Matthew Arnold who structured the Celtic Twilight in-Ireland and Scotland. Despite all this Macphcrson’s texts have been ignored for much of this century, partly because his translatorese verse-prose is hard to read at long stretches. This new and revelatory ...

Fashion Flashes

Zoë Heller, 26 January 1995

Kenneth Tynan: Letters 
edited by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 669 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 297 81076 6
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... from his first precocious fanmail to Arthur Askey to a final letter of humorous verse to his son Matthew. But it is Tynan’s school and university days that represent the golden age of his letter-writing career. The letters written during this period, particularly those to his friend Julian Holland, are lordly communiqués, full of cinéaste ...

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