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My father says

Brian Dillon: Hugo Hamilton, 23 March 2006

The Sailor in the Wardrobe 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 0 00 719217 7
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... I owe what sense I have of the power of the word to a man whose power depended on words failing him. The first time I heard the term ‘West Brit’, it was spat out by a florid-faced teacher at a suburban Dublin school in the early summer of 1981. He was, I suppose, feeling harried: a week earlier, the stick with which, stuttering to a stop, he would, thin-lipped, beat us, had been stolen ...

Dithyrambs for Athens

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The difficulties of reading Pindar, 17 February 2005

Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity and the Classical Tradition 
by John T. Hamilton.
Harvard, 348 pp., £17.95, April 2004, 0 674 01257 7
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The First Poets: Lives of the Ancient Greek Poets 
by Michael Schmidt.
Weidenfeld, 449 pp., £20, April 2004, 0 297 64394 0
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... still admired. In his day as in ours adulation was bestowed on sporting champions, who were held to confer glory on their cities as their modern counterparts do on their countries, though there was no shift from noble amateurs to plebeian professionals such as we have seen within the last hundred years. Pindar’s language ...

Enter Hamilton

Eric Foner, 6 October 2016

American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 
by Alan Taylor.
Norton, 704 pp., £30, November 2016, 978 0 393 08281 4
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... aberration, as if reasoned debate had been the default mode of American politics. But precursors to Trump do exist, candidates who struck electoral gold by appealing to exaggerated fears, real grievances and visceral prejudices. Among Trump’s predecessors are the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings of the 1850s, white ...

John Stuart Mill’s Forgotten Victory

Alasdair MacIntyre, 16 October 1980

An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy 
by John Stuart Mill, edited by J.M. Robson.
Routledge, 625 pp., £15.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0178 9
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... It is a long time​ now since any undergraduate class used Mill’s An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy, first published in 1865, as a set text. But it has happened. George Santayana, who graduated from Harvard College in 1886, has described in Persons and Places the teaching of Francis Bowen: But Harvard possessed safe, sober old professors also and oldest of all, ‘Fanny’ Bowen ...

Madder Men

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton on Richard Hamilton, 24 October 2019

Richard HamiltonIntrospective 
by Phillip Spectre.
König, 408 pp., £49, September 2019, 978 3 88375 695 0
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... of artists often read like legends of heroes. Vasari preferred his Renaissance masters to be precocious in talent, humble in origin and, if possible, anointed by a predecessor – so he gives us Cimabue discovering the shepherd boy Giotto sketching a pastoral scene with perfect skill. Born in 1922, Richard ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... A man of many literary parts, Ian Hamilton came to biography late and triumphantly with his life of the dead but still warm Robert Lowell. Riding high, he went on to attempt an unauthorised life of the aged but very much alive J.D. Salinger and was comprehensively outfoxed by the second most reclusive man in American letters ...

Just off Lexham Gardens

John Bayley, 9 January 1992

Through a Glass Darkly: The life of Patrick Hamilton 
by Nigel Jones.
Scribner, 408 pp., £18.95, December 1991, 0 356 19701 8
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... Towards the end of his life (he died aged 58) Patrick Hamilton was taking the cure in some Metroland establishment while Malcolm Lowry was being dried out in another not far off. That was around l960, and the two writers never met; but both had become something of a cult. Hamilton died two years later in more than averagely gloomy circumstances, back on the bottle again; and most of his reputation went with him; but there were always the faithful who remembered and read him, and a few years ago his young man’s trilogy from the early Thirties, Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky, was republished ...

Enisled

John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold, 19 March 1998

A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... and reissued in 1979. A new edition is on the way from Nicholas Shrimpton. Cecil Lang is up to the second instalment of the Letters (despite fierce crossfire from rival scholars in the letters pages of the TLS). Following the line opened by Lionel Trilling’s ‘biography of a mind’ in America and by Raymond Williams’s Arnoldian meditations in ...
Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Hogarth, 528 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 0 7012 0751 5
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Trust Me 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 249 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 394 55833 2
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Her Story: A Novel 
by Dan Jacobson.
Deutsch, 142 pp., £8.95, August 1987, 0 233 98116 0
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... Patrick Hamilton is remembered today, if at all, for the short pre-war novel Hangover Square, and the stage thrillers Rope and Gaslight. They are good of their kind, but they lack the feel of involuntary masterpieces which still attends their up till now vanished predecessor – the trilogy of novels brought together in 1935 as Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky ...

Carnivals of Progress

John Ziman, 17 February 1983

Sir William Rowan Hamilton 
by Thomas Hankins.
Johns Hopkins, 474 pp., £19.50, July 1981, 0 8018 2203 3
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Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray.
Oxford, 592 pp., £30, August 1981, 0 19 858163 7
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The Parliament of Science: The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 
edited by Roy MacLeod and Peter Collins.
Science Reviews, 308 pp., £12.25, September 1982, 0 905927 66 4
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... In the London Review of Books, John Maynard Smith said about scientists: ‘however interested they may be in politics or history or philosophy, their first love is science itself.’ If only I could follow this bent, and tell something of Hamilton as a mathematician. As it happens, he also wrote a good deal of poetry, but his poems lack the magic of his equations, which seem more beautiful and moving now than when they were imagined 150 years ago ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... get onto the big wheel of writing (or the little wheels within wheels of poetry), it seems clear to me that the people you look to and feel an affinity for are not – to begin with, anyway – the ones who get on immediately before and after you, still less the ones who’ve been on for ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... Betty Boothroyd has called on the media to provide ‘fairer and better balanced coverage’ of the House of Commons. ‘Above all,’ she has warned, they ‘should not use the occasion for highly generalised and unsubstantiated comments against Members of the House as a whole and the Parliamentary system’. The ‘occasion’ to which she refers is the inquiry being conducted by a new officer of her House, Sir Gordon Downey, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: The Great Refusers, 20 October 2016

... Most​ writers of fiction are interested in anonymity. If they aren’t tickled by the thought when they sit down to write their first books, they get to that point after the first couple have come out. Writing is solitary, private, inward, and involves something close to complete control; even when there are losses of control or agency, they’re of the sort that a writer has, most of the time, chosen for herself ...

Extraordinarily Graceful Exits from Power

Nicholas Guyatt: George Washington’s Reticence, 17 November 2005

His Excellency George Washington 
by Joseph J. Ellis.
Faber, 320 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 571 21212 3
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... The current US president likes to talk about his predecessor ‘the first George W.’, but it’s hard to imagine two politicians with more different styles. George Bush invites world leaders to barbeques at his Texas ranch, and gives nicknames to the members of his cabinet ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... If you wanted to make your way as a literary journalist in the days of Addison you might have done well to begin by heading for Button’s coffeehouse in Russell Street where the great man held court, and be as submissively impressive as possible. Almost three hundred years later, though sadly not for very long, you could make your way to the Pillars of Hercules in Greek Street, where Ian Hamilton, editor of the New Review, was usually to be found ...

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