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Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-17 
by T.S. Eliot, edited by Christopher Ricks.
Faber, 428 pp., £30, September 1996, 0 571 17895 2
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... Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound; Donne’s Biathanatos and ‘Satire III’; the ‘Hail Mary’; Psalm 143; Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy; Eliot’s Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley and The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism; Swinburne’s ‘A Leave-Taking’; Pater’s The Renaissance. Perhaps any editor might ...

Cool Brains

Nicholas Guyatt: Demythologising the antebellum South, 2 June 2005

Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South 
by Michael O’Brien.
North Carolina, 1354 pp., £64.95, March 2004, 0 8078 2800 9
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... predicaments with a cold eye and ‘cool brains’ (in the prescription of the Civil War diarist Mary Chesnut). And the defeat of 1865 merely confirmed their prescience about the instability of people, places and things. The American South, in O’Brien’s telling, learned a lesson in defeat that would not reach Europe for fifty years. O’Brien has a ...

Emily of Fire & Violence

Paul Keegan: Eliot’s Letters, 22 October 2020

... Poets”!’ he wrote to Emily Hale in February 1933, halfway through his year as Charles Eliot Norton professor at Harvard. The lecture included the following considerations (transcribed by his brother Henry):The desire to write a letter, to put down what you don’t want anybody else to see but the person you are writing to, but which yet you do not want ...

Henry James and Romance

Barbara Everett, 18 June 1981

Henry James Letters. Vol. III: 1883-1895 
edited by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 579 pp., £17.50, March 1981, 0 333 18046 1
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Culture and Conduct in the Novels of Henry James 
by Alwyn Berland.
Cambridge, 231 pp., £17.50, April 1981, 0 521 23343 7
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Literary Reviews and Essays, A London Life, The Reverberator, Italian Hours, The Sacred Fount, Watch and Ward 
by Henry James.
Columbus, 409 pp., £2.60, February 1981, 0 394 17098 9
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... regarding ‘real life’ has been made by Edith Wharton’s most direct heir (in this matter), Mary McCarthy, Miss McCarthy’s brilliant essay ‘The Fact in Fiction’ – published some twenty years ago, though her argument is to some extent continued and amplified in her recent Ideas and the Novel – revived the earlier writer’s question in a far ...

Gnawed by rats, burnt at Oxford

Claire Tomalin, 10 October 1991

G.H. Lewes: A Life 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Oxford, 369 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 812827 4
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... as his idol. Lewes actually wrote a biography of Shelley, encouraged by Leigh Hunt, though not by Mary Shelley. It was never published, he himself soon deciding it was a poor piece of work, and it disappeared. I have always regretted this lost book, but Professor Ashton convinces us that Lewes’s low opinion of it was the right one. It was, however, a ...

Vengeful Susan

Linda Colley, 22 September 1994

Uncertain Unions: Marriage in England 1660-1753 
by Lawrence Stone.
Oxford, 295 pp., £16.95, September 1992, 0 19 820253 9
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Broken Lives: Separation and Divorce in England 1660-1857 
by Lawrence Stone.
Oxford, 373 pp., £16.95, June 1993, 0 19 820254 7
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... could use the law as ruthlessly as predatory males. Indeed, they could sometimes be the predators. Mary Stenson, an heiress from the minor gentry, seems to have trifled with the affections and the bodies of two men in the 1650s and 1660s, before marrying a third. They sued, but she won. Twenty years later, Mary Cudworth, the ...

The Italy of Human Beings

Frances Wilson: Felicia Hemans, 16 November 2000

Felicia Hemans: ‘Records of Woman’ with Other Poems 
edited by Paula Feldman.
Kentucky, 248 pp., £15.50, September 1999, 0 8131 0964 7
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... than more powerful productions.’ Felicia Hemans was huge in America, where Andrews Norton (Charles Eliot Norton’s father) offered her a prestigious job editing a literary periodical in Boston, which she turned down. Despite speaking five languages she never left the British Isles. Nor did she ever stop ...

Berenson’s Elixir

Simon Schama, 1 May 1980

Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... biography which somewhat delicately halted its narrative in 1903-4, with Berenson and his wife Mary returned from a head-hunting trip to the United States, where the big-game of major-league millionaires – Peter Widener, James G. Johnson, Samuel Kress – had leapt to profit from his publicised expertise. This was sometimes prompted by motives of ...

Gotcha, Pat!

Terry Castle: Highsmith in My Head, 4 March 2021

Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Richard Bradford.
Bloomsbury, 258 pp., £20, January, 978 1 4482 1790 8
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... herself to blame. Yes, she had been subject to an estranging and neglectful childhood: her mother, Mary (née Coates), supposedly tried to abort her by swallowing turpentine in the last months of her pregnancy; her grifter father, the feckless Jay B. Plangman, vanished when she was an infant. (When she met him at seventeen, he seems to have shown her a stash ...

I gotta use words

Mark Ford: Eliot speaks in tongues, 11 August 2016

The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume I: Collected & Uncollected Poems 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 1311 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23870 5
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The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume II: Practical Cats & Further Verses 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 667 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23371 7
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... is to the fore in annotations such as the one with which he glosses the lines ‘To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours/With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine’: ‘A phenomenon which I have often noticed.’ At times he seems almost to be taunting the philistine English poetry-lover who can’t see beyond the Georgians, as when he recommends ...

Feast of St Thomas

Frank Kermode, 29 September 1988

Eliot’s New Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Oxford, 356 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 19 811727 2
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The Letters of T.S. Eliot 
edited by Valerie Eliot.
Faber, 618 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 571 13621 4
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The Poetics of Impersonality 
by Maud Ellmann.
Harvester, 207 pp., £32.50, January 1988, 0 7108 0463 6
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T.S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism 
by Richard Shusterman.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £19.95, February 1988, 0 7156 2187 4
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‘The Men of 1914’: T.S. Eliot and Early Modernism 
by Erik Svarny.
Open University, 268 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 335 09019 2
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Eliot, Joyce and Company 
by Stanley Sultan.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 504880 6
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The Savage and the City in the Work of T.S. Eliot 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 251 pp., £25, December 1987, 9780198128694
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T.S. Eliot: The Poems 
by Martin Scofield.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 30147 5
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... element in his relationship with Jean Verdenal. Lyndall Gordon reports a conversation with Mary Trevelyan which makes him seem mildly amused about this imputation, but his first reaction was quick and indignant. After his death the sanction of his disapproval no longer worked, and almost anything goes.* Now that so much has been said it seems ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... year 1964-65, when he was a young apprentice academic and Lewis was the visiting Charles Eliot Norton Professor: the differences in age and culture and experience somehow worked to kindle the regard and friendship we instantly felt for each other and found in each other. I was beginning to study the American poetic tradition, and it was daunting and ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... seem likely that this autumn we will be shooting The Lady in the Van. This is the story of Miss Mary Shepherd, the elderly eccentric who took up residence in my garden in 1974, living there in a van until her death 15 years later. Maggie Smith played Miss Shepherd on the stage in 1999 and all being well will star in the film with Nicholas Hytner ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... with 12 bridesmaids and an officiating canon who was ‘the second husband of my great-aunt Mary Chamberlain, Uncle Joe’s third wife’. As a Parliamentary candidate her least fashionable constituency was to be Birmingham King’s Norton, which she nursed for seven difficult years. The two elections which she ...

Grandiose Moments

Frank Kermode, 6 February 1997

Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol. II 
by Max Saunders.
Oxford, 696 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 19 212608 3
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... told her she mustn’t expect him to be faithful), he had some sort of affair with her sister Mary; then he was seriously involved with Violet Hunt, a fashionable novelist and by all accounts a very alarming woman. When she called herself Mrs Hueffer (Ford’s original surname) she was at once sued by Elsie, who would never consent to a divorce: Ford ...

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