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John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... itself – the incisively intelligent ‘academic-administrative’ verses of Larkin, Wain and Enright – could not help endorsing the most negative feedback of all – English gentility, the ‘decency and other social totems’ that ‘muddle through’. New poetry had to have ‘a new seriousness; the new poet must face the full range of his ...

Unspeakability

John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

The Magician’s Doubts 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 252 pp., £18, August 1994, 0 7011 6197 3
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... interesting thing about the writer in question. Often, though, this invented self is a problem. Michael Wood’s oustandingly brilliant new book is in part a corrective to the public persona adopted by his subject. Wood calls this persona ‘Nabokov the mandarin’, and robustly describes it as ‘a set ... of ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks, 6 June 1985

The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... of his ‘Who ...’?) But the difficulty with the radical’s ‘Who whom?’ is that it invites Michael Frayn’s reasonable regression: Who asks ‘Who whom?’?The blurb to the wonderful vast new Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk-Greenbaum-Leech-Svartvik) says truly of its quadrumvirate that they are ‘acknowledged to be leading ...

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