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Absolutely Bleedin’ Obvious

Ian Sansom: Will Self, 6 July 2006

The Book of Dave 
by Will Self.
Viking, 496 pp., £17.99, June 2006, 0 670 91443 6
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... and translations of the Book of Psalms, the original book of Dave – supposedly written by King David, the Neim Z’mirot Yisrael (‘the sweet singer of Israel’) – ‘substantially shaped the culture of 16th and 17th-century England, resulting in creative forms as diverse as singing psalters, metrical psalm paraphrases, sophisticated poetic ...

Mexxed Missages

Elaine Showalter: A road trip through Middle America, 4 November 2004

... tourist industry centred on the Wild West and its outlaw heroes – you don’t forget that Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday once walked the streets of Tombstone, Arizona. But no one seems to be walking the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, with their used-car lots, pawn shops and bail bond offices. Tulsa even has a Right Wing Restaurant (chicken, I guess), and ...

Maschler Pudding

John Bayley, 19 October 1995

À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... wilderness, Pym’s novel Quartet in Autumn had at last been accepted for publication: Larkin and David Cecil had independently named her as their choice of ‘most undervalued writer’ in the 75th-anniversary number of the TLS. As Pym’s diary records, they had kipper pâté to start, after sherry; and then ‘veal done with peppers and tomatoes, Pommes ...

I’m hip. I live in New York

Theo Tait: Leonard Michaels, 3 March 2016

by Leonard Michaels.
Daunt Books, 131 pp., £9.99, June 2015, 978 1 907970 55 9
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... version that has now been published in Britain for the first time, with a helpful introduction by David Lodge.) In Reality Hunger, David Shields grouped Michaels with other secular Jewish ‘laureates of the real’ who ‘tend to be better at analysing reality than recreating it’ in fiction. And certainly the documentary ...


Hugh Honour, 13 November 1997

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... Tourists seem usually to have been conducted within the endogamous British upper class, although David Hume made himself ridiculous by his unrequited passion for a Piedmontese countess and James Boswell did more than flirt with a Sienese lady foolish enough to fall for him. ‘Whore hunting amang groves o’ myrtles’ may have been as common as Burns ...

On (Not) Saying What You Mean

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 1995

... makes me wish I were writing about the work of Fulke Greville or Sir Walter Ralegh or Sir Thomas Wyatt. I studied English and History. In English we were told almost immediately by Seamus Deane that we must bring nothing of ourselves, of our personal experience to a poem when we read. A poem was a verbal structure, and our job was to define the nature of its ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... of the price war’s principal targets. (‘Don’t worry about the Telegraph,’ Murdoch told Sir David English of Associated Newspapers in 1993. ‘Leave them to me. I’ll put them out of business for you.’) Knowing that Black knew Murdoch socially, my friend asked him if he had ever brought up the subject of the price war. Black shook his head. He ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... government concern about the legitimacy of the licence fee. The new head of BBC Broadcast, Will Wyatt, spoke of his department as the link between ‘the creative community’ and the audience. An independent producer put it more bluntly: ‘The controllers of BBC1 and BBC2 don’t trust the producers to make the series they want,’ he told the Guardian in ...

Anglophobe Version

Denton Fox, 2 February 1984

The New Testament in Scots 
translated by William Laughton Lorimer.
Canongate, 476 pp., £17.50, October 1983, 0 900025 24 7
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Scotland and the Lowland Tongue 
edited by J. Derrick McClure.
Aberdeen University Press, 256 pp., £17, September 1983, 0 08 028482 5
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... great deal of light on the possibilities of reviving written Scots is cast by the festschrift for David Murison, Scotland and the Lowland Tongue. The collection contains a number of pieces of very high quality, which is perhaps not surprising, since few people would want to present anything but their most respectable work to Murison, the wittiest of ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... often the same people, so were poets and politicians. Five Tudor politicians of stature – More, Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Ralegh – wrote enduring literature. In our time MPs and former Cabinet ministers sometimes try their hand at popular fiction, but somehow the results are not quite the same. Alongside the major literary names there were numerous minor ...

Lucky Lad

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Harold Evans, 17 December 2009

My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times – An Autobiography 
by Harold Evans.
Little, Brown, 515 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 1 4087 0203 1
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... in fact the Times’s losses were covered by the Sunday Times’s profits. The appalling Woodrow Wyatt later gloated that he had fixed this as go-between from Murdoch to Thatcher, and he may have been right. As soon as he had the papers, Murdoch began rearranging their editors, with Evans shunted from Sunday to daily, a mistake in itself, and telling them ...

Best at Imitation

Anthony Pagden: Spain v. England, 2 November 2006

Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830 
by J.H. Elliott.
Yale, 546 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 300 11431 1
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... in its midst’. The English preferred, in the words of the governor of Virginia, Sir Francis Wyatt, ‘to have no heathen among us, who at best were but thorns in our sides’. The Spanish south, by contrast, was colonised by aristocrats and would-be aristocrats, whose wealth and self-image relied heavily on the existence of a highly stratified native ...


Blair Worden, 7 March 1985

Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance 
by David Norbrook.
Routledge, 345 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 7100 9778 6
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Restoration Theatre Production 
by Jocelyn Powell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £19.95, November 1984, 0 7100 9321 7
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Theatre and Crisis: 1632-1642 
by Martin Butler.
Cambridge, 340 pp., £25, August 1984, 0 521 24632 6
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The Court Masque 
edited by David Lindley.
Manchester, 196 pp., £22.50, August 1984, 0 7190 0961 8
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Ben Jonson, Dramatist 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 370 pp., £30, July 1984, 0 521 25883 9
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... politics held not only for Marvell but for a host of Renaissance and 17th-century writers. More, Wyatt, Sidney, Spenser, Raleigh, Greville, Milton: all those men wrote about public events; some of them wrote to influence their course; and none of them would have understood the modern relocation of politics below imagination. ...

Move Your Head and the Picture Changes

Jenny Turner: Helen DeWitt, 11 September 2008

Your Name Here 
by Helen DeWitt and Ilya Gridneff., 580 pp., £8, May 2008
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... Some years ago, the novelist David Foster Wallace submitted himself to a long television interview with Charlie Rose, the PBS chat-show host. It was a terrific performance, and in it Wallace talked about why, in much of his work, narrative is split into body-text and footnotes: There’s a way, it seems to me, that reality’s fractured right now, at least the reality that I live in ...

Things the King Liked to Hear

Blair Worden: Donne and Milton’s Prose, 19 June 2014

Sermons of John Donne Vol. III: Sermons Preached at the Court of Charles I 
edited by David Colclough.
Oxford, 521 pp., £125, November 2013, 978 0 19 956548 1
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Complete Works of John Milton Vol. VI: Vernacular Regicide and Republican Writings 
edited by N.H. Keeble and Nicholas McDowell.
Oxford, 811 pp., £125, December 2013, 978 0 19 921805 9
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... criticism allows only subsidiary places to the strenuous translation of Psalms by Sir Thomas Wyatt or Sir Philip Sidney (the ‘Sidneian Psalms’ acclaimed by a poem of Donne) or Milton. Yet Donne himself, who worried whether poetry was equal to the expression of divine truth unless a divine spirit directed it, maintained that the ‘tropes and ...

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