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How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... scattered collections – made by Marion Scott, the Gurney family, Ivor’s Gloucester friend John Haines, Vaughan Williams and others – into a central archive. The process continued after Finzi’s death in 1956. Neither Gurney nor Scott had bothered much about dates and the habit of confusion grew by amalgamation. Blunden, returning manuscripts ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Universities

Peter Pulzer, 22 June 1989

... twenty years to write the book that will be a standard work for the next fifty. As my colleague John Lucas of Merton College has put it, ‘instead of writing books, I shall write articles; instead of writing articles, I shall write CVs.’ If you are a student contemplating an academic career, you do not have to be outstandingly perceptive to see that ...

Strangers

John Lanchester, 11 July 1991

Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... horrifying nature of these statistics is compounded by the case-histories they conceal. Henry Lee Lucas, subject of the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, is currently on death row in Texas. He claims to have murdered 360 people across a range of states in the American South; the Police claim to have verified 160 of these killings: both claims have come ...

Endearingness

Donald Davie, 21 March 1991

The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... reggae music, multi-media happenings, what have you. But bless me, it seems I was wrong. For if John Gross isn’t duplicating for a later generation what the Earl of Birkenhead did for mine, I don’t know what he and the marketing managers at Oxford University Press think they are doing. What readers can they think they are catering for, if not such ...

Lacking in style

Keith Kyle, 25 February 1993

Divided we stand: Britain, the US and the Suez Crisis 
by W. Scott Lucas.
Hodder, 399 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 340 53666 7
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Blind Loyalty: Australia and the Suez Crisis 
by W.J. Hudson.
Melbourne, 157 pp., £12.50, November 1991, 0 522 84394 8
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... Selwyn Lloyd, to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to visit the American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who had been discovered to have cancer during the week of the Suez war. Towards the end of the conversation, Dulles suddenly asked ‘Selwyn, why did you stop? Why didn’t you go through with it and get Nasser down?’ The British visitors ...

Rub gently out with stale bread

Adam Smyth: The Print Craze, 2 November 2017

The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820 
by Antony Griffiths.
British Museum, 560 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 7141 2695 1
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... by workers we can no longer name to the early 16th-century masterpieces of Dürer (in Germany), Lucas van Leyden (in the Netherlands) and Marcantonio Raimondi working with Raphael (in Italy). As Sayer’s guide shows, the relationship between printing and drawing was rich. In The Compleat Drawing-Book, the print is a training tool for amateurs, but ...

Adrian

Peter Campbell, 5 December 1985

... bank which every morning is strewn again with garbage. His mother runs off with, and back from, Mr Lucas (‘rat fink Lucas’). Mrs Mole’s unexpected pregnancy (she is 37 – much too old in Adrian’s eyes even to be thinking of having children) may have been caused by George Mole or by ...

Family Romances

Anthony Thwaite, 2 February 1989

A Little Stranger 
by Candia McWilliam.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 9780747502791
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Running wild 
by J.G. Ballard.
Hutchinson, 72 pp., £5.95, November 1988, 0 09 173498 3
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Breathing Lessons 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 327 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7011 3391 0
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... stylistic exercise, like that of a very clever student who had been nourished on a forced diet of John Cleveland, George Barker (The Dead Seagull) and Craig Raine, and who had once heard the plot of a novel by Iris Murdoch. The novel’s characters were indeed Romantic, if by that one means fabulous, fanciful, whimsical, high-flown, etc, as under Roget ...

In Toledo, Ohio

Nicholas Penny: Goltzius, 23 October 2003

... thighs and remarkably elastic anatomy, than among portraits or specimens of natural history (the John Dory, a monkey, a dromedary). Having established the distinction between Olympian poetry and quotidian prose, he obtained startling effects by allowing elements of one mode to cross into another: he gave his antique heroes the huge moustaches of contemporary ...

Meltdown

Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... uncanny faculty of melting’ had become a meltdown. Plath’s doctor during her final months, Dr John Horder, wrote afterwards: My judgment has always been that this was a very determined attempt to end her life ... I believe ... she was liable to large swings of mood, but so excessive that a doctor inevitably thinks in terms of brain chemistry. This does ...

Megalomaniac and Loser

Norman Hampson, 21 March 1985

Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History 1794-1815 
edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas.
Cambridge, 276 pp., £22.50, October 1983, 0 521 25114 1
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Chouannerie and Counter-Revolution: Puisaye, the Princes and the British Government in the 1790s 
by Maurice Hutt.
Cambridge, 630 pp., £60, December 1983, 0 521 22603 1
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Britain and Revolutionary France: Conflict, Subversion and Propaganda 
edited by Colin Jones.
Exeter, 96 pp., £1.75, June 1983, 0 85989 179 8
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... we should know that they were all dead. The volume of essays, edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas in honour of Richard Cobb, deals mostly with the later years of the Revolution, between the fall of Robespierre and the advent of Bonaparte. The period has always been rather an embarrassment to historians who are looking for patterns. If the Terror ...

Subjects

Craig Raine, 6 October 1983

Peter Porter: Collected Poems 
Oxford, 335 pp., £12.50, March 1983, 0 19 211948 6Show More
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... aural shortcomings here are not an isolated instance in his work and bother even his admirers. For John Lucas, who admires Porter’s savage attacks on metropolitan manners, verbal clumsiness is simply the price to be paid for Porter’s fecundity and invention – the cost of weariness after years at the typewriter bashing the smoothies. For others ...

The Colossus of Maroussi

Iain Sinclair: In Athens, 27 May 2010

... up the steeply banked terraces. But noble as the site appears, it is not entirely benign. The poet John Lucas, in 92 Acharnon Street, reminds us that the old Olympic stadium is where ‘the Colonels assembled schoolchildren for parades so that they might learn to salute the Greek flag.’ Across a never relenting stream of traffic, motorbikes cascading ...

Comparative Horrors

Timothy Garton Ash: Delatology, 19 March 1998

Accusatory Practices: Denunciation in Modern European History, 1789-1989 
edited by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Robert Gellately.
Chicago, 231 pp., $27.95, September 1997, 0 226 25273 6
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... generally implies a regular, paid relationship with the police. A richly detailed essay by Colin Lucas on denunciation during the French Revolution makes the first important point that, contrary to my theatre director’s assumption, selfish motives are not a defining feature of denunciation. In fact, the French revolutionaries coined the word dénonciation ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Samuel Palmer’s dream landscapes, 17 November 2005

... then just out of his teens; a couple of years earlier he had been sought out by an older artist, John Linnell, who had seen and admired his work. Palmer wrote that God had sent Linnell ‘to pluck me from the pit of modernity’. Through Linnell, who was his friend and patron and later his father-in-law, Palmer met William Blake. It was the light of Blake ...

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