Search Results

Advanced Search

1 to 15 of 16 results

Sort by:

Filter by:

Contributors

Article Types

Authors

Subjects

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis, 5 March 2020

... When i saw​ Kingdomland (Faber, £10.99) up in lights on its yellow-orange cover, the word conjured up visions of a travelling fairground, dodgily yet enticingly going to seed. Even after I learned that the term is an old name for Rachael Allen’s home county of Cornwall, I didn’t feel my first impressions were wholly misplaced. Kingdomland is Allen’s first collection and its opening lines set the tone for a volume preoccupied with spectatorship: ‘Watch the forest burn/with granular heat ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... The most interesting book of first poems in many years’, Richard Howard proclaimed in 1981. James Merrill, John Hollander and John Ashbery spoke in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for many,’ David Kalstone wrote, ‘in saying it appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South ...

Metropolitan Miscreants

Matthew Bevis: Victorian Bloomsbury, 4 July 2013

Victorian Bloomsbury 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, July 2012, 978 0 300 15447 4
Show More
Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-40: Cockney Adventures 
by Gregory Dart.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 1 107 02492 2
Show More
Show More
... The test of poetry which professes to be modern’, Arthur Symons wrote in 1892, is ‘its capacity for dealing with London, with what one sees or might see there.’ And what the poets see is a transformation of the human face. In the country, ‘The face of every neighbour whom I met/Was as a volume to me,’ Wordsworth recalled in The Prelude, but neighbours were harder to read in London: ‘The comers and goers face to face,/Face after face ...

The lighthouse stares back

Matthew Bevis: Tóibín on Bishop, 7 January 2016

On Elizabeth Bishop 
by Colm Tóibín.
Princeton, 209 pp., £13.95, March 2015, 978 0 691 15411 4
Show More
Show More
... Nobody knows​ … nobody knows.’ Elizabeth Bishop said her grandmother’s remark was the chorus of her childhood. ‘I often wondered what my grandmother knew that none of the rest of us knew and if she alone knew it, or if it was a total mystery that really nobody knew except perhaps God.’ She ventured to ask: ‘What do you know, Gammie, that we don’t know? Why don’t you tell us? Tell me!’ Gammie wouldn’t say whether she was keeping a secret or confessing bewilderment; she just laughed and replied: ‘Go on with you! Scat!’ This image of a person obscurely in the know, at once self-collected and reticent, is also an image of the person Bishop became – or the one many took her to be ...

Kids Gone Rotten

Matthew Bevis: ‘Treasure Island’, 25 October 2012

Treasure Island 
by Robert Louis Stevenson, edited by John Sutherland.
Broadview, 261 pp., £10.95, December 2011, 978 1 55111 409 5
Show More
Silver: Return to Treasure Island 
by Andrew Motion.
Cape, 404 pp., £12.99, March 2012, 978 0 224 09119 0
Show More
Treasure Island!!! 
by Sara Levine.
Tonga, 172 pp., £10.99, January 2012, 978 1 60945 061 8
Show More
Show More
... John Singer Sargent’s ‘Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife’ (1885). The first return to Treasure Island was made by Robert Louis Stevenson himself. Fourteen years after the novel was published, Longman’s Magazine published ‘The Persons of the Tale’, in which Captain Smollett and Long John Silver step out of the narrative after the 32nd chapter to have a chat ‘in an open place not far from the story ...

Deleecious

Matthew Bevis: William Hazlitt, 6 November 2008

New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume I 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 507 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923573 5
Show More
New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume II 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 553 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923574 2
Show More
William Hazlitt: The First Modern Man 
by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 557 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 19 954958 0
Show More
Show More
... There is a story that Hazlitt, having just been introduced to one of his idols, ventured an opinion on a mutual acquaintance: ‘This was the first observation I ever made to Coleridge, and he said it was a very just and striking one. I remember the leg of Welsh Mutton and the turnips on the table that day had the finest flavour imaginable.’ Hazlitt’s thoughts often turned to mutton ...

I can bite anything I want

Matthew Bevis: Lewis Carroll, 16 July 2015

Lewis Carroll 
by Morton Cohen.
Macmillan, reissue, 577 pp., £30, April 2015, 978 1 4472 8613 4
Show More
The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll 
edited by Morton Cohen.
Palgrave, reissue, 302 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 1 137 50546 0
Show More
Lewis Carroll: The Man and His Circle 
by Edward Wakeling.
Tauris, 400 pp., £35, November 2014, 978 1 78076 820 5
Show More
Show More
... What​ do you suppose is the use of a child without any meaning?’ the Red Queen asks in Through the Looking-Glass. The child to whom this question was addressed was in little danger of becoming meaningless. ‘I’m very glad you like Alice,’ Charles Dodgson wrote to Margery Worthington in 1895, ‘but what wicked wicked sisters you have not to let you read it till they go to school! But perhaps the mistress had told them they had to learn a page of it by heart as a lesson?’ Dodgson is toasting the success of the books he wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll, yet also hinting at a preference for those who read them outside the classroom, maybe while playing truant ...

Were you a tome?

Matthew Bevis: Edward Lear, 14 December 2017

Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 608 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 571 26954 9
Show More
Show More
... When​ faced by admirers, Edward Lear was inclined to portray himself as a puzzle, or a trap: ‘How pleasant to know Mr Lear!’     Who has written such volumes of stuff! Some think him ill-tempered and queer,     But a few think him pleasant enough.The first observation was originally made by somebody who did not know Mr Lear ...

Gravity’s Smoothest Dream

Matthew Bevis: A.R. Ammons, 7 March 2019

The Complete Poems 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, two vols, 2133 pp., £74, December 2017, 978 0 393 25489 1
Show More
Show More
... Well,​ Mr Ammons, it looks as if you really have something here.’ On receiving this verdict from the poet Josephine Miles in 1951, the young Ammons was taken aback: he’d expected ‘bad news’. Yet whatever the something was that Mr Ammons had, it remained hidden from view for some time. He brought out his first volume, Ommateum, with a vanity press in 1955, and, as he drily observed, ‘it was forgotten about while I was on a four-day business trip to Nashville ...

What most I love I bite

Matthew Bevis: Stevie Smith, 28 July 2016

The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Will May.
Faber, 806 pp., £35, October 2015, 978 0 571 31130 9
Show More
Show More
... Could​ anything be better than to start off with a fine picture of a sailing ship on the rough sea coming suddenly alive and sucking in the children?’ Stevie Smith asked, reviewing C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 1952. She liked depictions of people who disappeared into the objects of their gaze; a couple of years earlier, her poem ‘Deeply Morbid’ told the story of Joan, an office girl who goes to the National Gallery during her lunchbreaks and studies Turner’s seascapes until ‘the spray reached out and sucked her in ...

It is still mañana

Matthew Bevis: Robert Frost’s Letters, 19 February 2015

The Letters of Robert Frost, Vol. 1: 1886-1920 
edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson and Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 811 pp., £33.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 05760 9
Show More
Show More
... Anybody​ want to Hear R. Frost on Anything?’ the poet asked Louis Untermeyer in 1916. Frost was 42 years old and believed he had an impressive list of lectures ‘in stock’. One of them was the ‘True Story of My Life’. It would begin with early signs of temerity and talent – ‘Stealing pigs from the stockyards in San Francisco. Learn to whistle at five’ – before moving on to bigger things: ‘“North of Boston” ...

Foiled by Pleasure

Matthew Bevis: Barrett Browning, 30 August 2018

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Selected Writings 
edited by Josie Billington and Philip Davis.
Oxford, 592 pp., £14.99, February 2018, 978 0 19 879763 0
Show More
Show More
... Having reached​ the grand age of 14, Elizabeth Barrett peered back into the distant past. She recorded in her journal that, when she was nine, ‘works of imagination only afforded me gratification and I trod the delightful fields of fancy without any of those conscientious scruples which now always attend me when wasting time in frivolous pleasure ...

A Solemn and Unsexual Man

Colin Burrow: Parson Wordsworth, 4 July 2019

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 352 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 881811 3
Show More
Wordsworth’s Fun 
by Matthew Bevis.
Chicago, 264 pp., £22, September 2019, 978 0 226 65219 1
Show More
Show More
... for half a day just doing whatever it is that poets do when they sit on stones. His ‘good friend Matthew’ asks what exactly that might be, and Wordsworth’s reply, if you read it sceptically, isn’t much of a reply at all: The eye – it cannot choose but see; We cannot bid the ear be still; Our bodies feel, where’er they be, Against, or with our ...

Bring some Madeira

Thomas Keymer: Thomas Love Peacock, 8 February 2018

Nightmare Abbey 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Nicholas A. Joukovsky.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £84.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03186 9
Show More
Crotchet Castle 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Freya Johnston and Matthew Bevis.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £79.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03072 5
Show More
Show More
... Marilyn Butler​ , whose Peacock Displayed was published in 1979, wasn’t the first to connect Peacock’s name with the showy wit of his satires. It started with Shelley, his friend and patron, who joked in 1820 about ‘the Pavonian Psyche’ (pavo: peacock), as though Peacock himself had the kind of name that he specialised in giving to his characters ...

Icicles by Cynthia

Michael Wood: Ghosts, 2 January 2020

Romantic Shades and Shadows 
by Susan J. Wolfson.
Johns Hopkins, 272 pp., £50, August 2018, 978 1 4214 2554 2
Show More
Show More
... play games, and in Wordsworth’s Fun, a book recently reviewed in the LRB (4 July, 2019), Matthew Bevis persuasively suggests that Wordsworth had a sense of humour that has escaped almost all of his readers. He can’t not have noticed how easily his name falls apart into separate words or phrases: will, I am, words, worth. And even if he ...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences