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A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... more available on tseliot.com, and many thousands yet to come. Edited for the most part by John Haffenden, the edition builds on the collection made by the late Valerie Eliot and on many archives (especially those of Faber). Occasionally, there’s a page with only a couple of lines by Old Possum on it, and about fifty lines of small-print ...

Cold Feet

Frank Kermode, 22 July 1993

Essays on Renaissance Literature. Vol. I: Donne and the New Philosophy 
by William Empson, edited by John Haffenden.
Cambridge, 296 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 521 44043 2
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William Empson: The Critical Achievement 
edited by Chistopher Norris and Nigel Mapp.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £35, March 1993, 0 521 35386 6
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... of an eccentric view of Donne. To understand that view, here documented in full and supported by John Haffenden’s conscientious and adulatory commentary, one point at least is essential. Empson found it all but impossible to believe that any intelligent and honest person could be a Christian. A lot of his work is devoted to showing that even writers ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan, 16 February 1984

The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... support to most of the claims being made for ‘narrative poetry today’ – should have told John Haffenden in an interview for Viewpoints that he found Robert Frost’s fable of imagined unlived lives, ‘The Road Not Taken’, exemplary. If Fenton’s distinction between the narrative kinds is just, so is the note of regret and rebellion that he ...

Bewitchment

James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... will my flailing material assume?’ Carter, one gathers, felt the opposite to Welty. She told John Haffenden, in 1984, that in The Passion of New Eve, she created Tristessa, the transvestite movie star, ‘in order to say some quite specific things about the cultural production of femininity’. Her training in medieval literature had given her a ...

Buffed-Up Scholar

Stefan Collini: Eliot and the Dons, 30 August 2012

Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. III: 1926-27 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 954 pp., £40, July 2012, 978 0 571 14085 5
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... completed) drama of modern life called ‘Sweeney Agonistes’, as well as a translation of Saint-John Perse’s prose poem Anabase, which didn’t appear until 1930. ‘I thought my poetry was over after “the Hollow Men”,’ he acknowledged later. It was some years before he discovered that this wasn’t the case. Overwhelmingly, these letters give us ...

What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham, 18 July 2019

W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
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W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
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... as a poet. ‘It is all a battle,’ he announced to his friend and partner in art, the painter John Minton. He and Dunsmuir lived in conditions of spectacular inconvenience: a poky caravan for some years and later a cottage to which the word ‘spartan’ doesn’t really do justice – ‘a leaking roof, no cooking stove, no electricity, an outside toilet ...

On a Chinese Mountain

Frank Kermode, 20 November 1986

The Royal Beasts 
by William Empson.
Chatto, 201 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3084 9
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Essays on Shakespeare 
by William Empson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 521 25577 5
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... Beasts in interest. The volume has a valuable seventy-page introduction and some useful notes by John Haffenden, who arranges the material as far as possible in chronological order. The play or melodrama, Three Stories, was written when the poet was 20, and performed, with him in the cast, by the Cambridge ADC. Long supposed to have been lost as Empson ...

Someone Else

Adam Phillips: Paul Muldoon, 4 January 2007

The End of the Poem: Oxford Lectures on Poetry 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 406 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 571 22740 6
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Horse Latitudes 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 107 pp., £14.99, October 2006, 0 571 23234 5
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... also a question of how buoyant one can be in the face of such things. In an early interview with John Haffenden, Muldoon was asked: ‘Why do you think the notion of alternative lives is peculiarly fetching, philosophically attractive, to your imagination?’ He replied: ‘I think it’s central. One of the ways in which we are most ourselves is that ...

We did and we didn’t

Seamus Perry: Are yez civilised?, 6 May 2021

On Seamus Heaney 
by R.F. Foster.
Princeton, 228 pp., £14.99, September 2020, 978 0 691 17437 2
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... Church. ‘I don’t think it’s much to do with Christianity,’ he cheerfully explained to John Haffenden in an interview, ‘Irish Catholicism is continuous with something older than Christianity.’ That had been a powerful idea in earlier literary nationalism: Daniel Corkery’s The Hidden Ireland (1924), for instance, posited an underlying ...

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