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In the Anti-World

Nicholas Jenkins: Raymond Roussel, 6 September 2001

Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams 
by Mark Ford.
Faber, 312 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 17409 4
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... In 1924 the Surrealist Benjamin Péret was eager, like many artists then and since, to relate his own interests to the works of the rich, bizarre and innovative French poet, novelist and playwright Raymond Roussel. In Paris, Péret contacted Roussel’s business manager, hoping to arrange a meeting with the man whom Louis Aragon called ‘the President of the Republic of Dreams ...

Returning the Gift

James Lasdun, 2 November 2000

... for Nicholas Jenkins For my birthday my wife gives me a chainsaw; a shiny blue Makita, big as our child, heavy as an impacted planet. On every part of its body the makers have slapped red warning stickers: Stop! Danger of Death! Do Not Operate Unless Experienced! The manual elaborates: kickback, where the blade bucks back through your neck; blinding by woodchip or exploding fuel, death by misguided tree-fall, tissue necrosis from the engine vibrations … I look at my wife, wondering what it means for a woman to give her husband a gift such as this … You said we needed one, remember? She smiles, and it’s true; we’re losing our meadow to red maple, alder, poplar ...

On Paul Muldoon

Clair Wills, 6 February 2020

... his tink tink, tink tinkbespeaking a familiarity with the science of iron-carbon alloysthe Chinese developed alongside the Dao,he’s believed to anticipate the licethat will infest his nest by stitching intoits brush-pile the egg sacs of lice-eating spiders.This ‘time-release packet’ is just one example of what Muldoon describes elsewhere in the collection as ‘future-proofing’ (‘Once we relied on a hoard//of seed that had been sacked/and saved ...

D&O

John Lanchester, 5 June 1997

Journals 1990-92 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £20, May 1997, 0 434 00430 8
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... the most memorable characters in A Dance to the Music of Time are the miners and bankers with whom Nicholas Jenkins, the narrator, serves during the war, or the literary down-and-outs with whom he mingles after it; a large part of the value of the work is that it encompasses Lady Huntercombe’s dance, as well as the vissicitudes of the small magazine ...

Self-Positioning

Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... fall into three main groups: the poet-critics (Blake Morrison, Craig Raine, James Fenton, Alan Jenkins, Clive Wilmer), the academics (Nicholas Jenkins, Terry Castle, Colin McGinn, Deborah Cameron, Deborah Bowman, William Pritchard, Eric Homberger, Michael O’Neill, Rachel Buxton) and the memoirists (Karl ...

Concierge

John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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Auden 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... wonderful letters to his friend James Stern, together with a biographical essay about Stern by Nicholas Jenkins; a memoir by Stella Musulin, a friend of Auden’s during his years at Kirchstetten in Austria; Edward Mendelson’s bibliography of published letters by Auden; and a symposium on Auden’s great poem ‘In Praise of ...

Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... wife. This is a dance to the music of lost time, only more of a quickstep than the stately measure Nicholas Jenkins imagines for Poussin’s Seasons. The music goes round and round, like the wheel, and what Powell suggests, in this light, oblique novel, is not that the dancers are all gone under the hill or show up in strange configurations, but that the ...

Earthworm on Zither

Paul Grimstad: Raymond Roussel, 26 April 2012

Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey, 280 pp., £10.99, June 2011, 978 1 56478 624 1
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New Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Ford.
Princeton, 264 pp., £16.95, April 2011, 978 0 691 14459 7
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... all the countries he visited, he saw only what he had put there in advance.’ More recently Nicholas Jenkins put it neatly: Roussel, he wrote, appears ‘to have had no impressions of Africa’.* Born in 1877 on the boulevard Malesherbes, a few doors down from the Prousts, Roussel grew up in obscene luxury (the family home contained both the ...

Six Scotches More

Michael Wood: Anthony Powell, 8 February 2001

A Writer's Notebook 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 169 pp., £14.99, February 2001, 0 434 00915 6
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... Its slightness is our undoing. In A Dance to the Music of Time, Powell has his narrator, Nicholas Jenkins, talk constantly, and rather ploddingly, of pattern and design. The very title, with its glance at Poussin, evokes rhythm and return, and the novels are devoted to coincidence, both as a sort of realism of the improbable – an implied claim ...

The Three Acts of Criticism

Helen Vendler, 26 May 1994

The Oxford Companion to 20th-Century Poetry in English 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Oxford, 602 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 19 866147 9
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... especially once the canon is complete (see Heaney on Lowell or Bernard O’Donoghue on Yeats or Nicholas Jenkins on Auden, all three pieces triumphs of compression and depth). Facing the work of a less accomplished writer, who really has done nothing technically or procedurally new, the commentator falls weakly back on either a recital of themes and ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... single passage of her book, she argues that the famous scene in which Powell’s narrator, Nick Jenkins, takes Jean Templer in his arms – in the back of a car, speeding through night and snow along the Great West Road, past the neon sign where a bathing belle ‘dives eternally through the petrol-tainted air’: the opening embrace of the principal ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour, 5 April 2001

Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... terms were to be about. Blair sought to make up for this by leaning on the venerable sage Lord Jenkins for advice. (Rawnsley appears to accept this estimate, repeatedly referring to Jenkins as ‘the great historian’, apparently unaware that serious historians regard Jenkins as a ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve, 1 December 1983

Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... while, in his account of election year 1983, he seems deliberately underimpressed by Roy Jenkins holding Glasgow Hillhead, as he had been when Jenkins took it in the first place. It is the facetiousness that annoys. Is John Pilger really so dreadful? Can the Stephen Waldorf affair be taken lightly? Does Johnson ...

Arts Councillors

Brigid Brophy, 7 October 1982

The State and the Visual Arts 
by Nicholas Pearson.
Open University, 128 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 335 10109 7
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The Politics of the Arts Council 
by Robert Hutchison.
Sinclair Browne, 186 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 86300 016 9
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... and trade union circles to what you might call the arts-administrative class. It is echoed both by Nicholas Pearson, who is described in the blurb to his book as ‘Visual Arts Marketing Officer at the Welsh Arts Council’, and by Robert Hutchison, who ‘worked for five years as a Senior Research and Information Officer for the Arts Council’ and who seems ...

England’s Isaiah

Perry Anderson, 20 December 1990

The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas 
by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy.
Murray, 276 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 9780719547898
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... the point of sententious parody. It was the school master Le Bas who instructed Anthony Powell’s Nicholas Jenkins in the adage ‘It takes all sorts to make a world,’ about the time Berlin was going up to Oxford. A few years later, Wittgenstein found it ‘a very beautiful saying’. Unlike him, the author of Personal Impressions and Against the ...

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