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Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... assimilate him to the picturesque. ‘The dead are cadmium blue,’ he declares in ‘Homage to Paul Cézanne’: ‘We spread them with palette knives in broad blocks and panes.’ To gaze into ‘panes’ as opaque as these is mortally to reflect. That a spiritual challenge should be found in the medium is entirely characteristic. Like Hopkins, Wright ...

The smallest details speak the loudest

John Upton: The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, 1 July 1999

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 
by Sir William Macpherson.
Stationery Office, 335 pp., £26, February 1999, 0 10 142622 4
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The Case of Stephen Lawrence 
by Brian Cathcart.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 670 88604 1
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... Lawrences and their increasing numbers of supporters. In October, Detective Chief Superintendent Barker produced a report into the police investigation. He concluded that ‘the investigation had progressed satisfactorily and all lines of inquiry had been correctly pursued.’ At the start of the inquest in December, an application for an indefinite ...

Staggering

Frank Kermode, 2 November 1995

Roy Fuller: Writer and Society 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £25, September 1995, 1 85754 133 2
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... with rolling eye’; he didn’t like the neologistic epithet ‘penis’, partly because George Barker had used it first, partly because penises can only with difficulty be imagined to have ‘rolling’ eyes. ‘What the lighthouse was more like (the one at Dungeness) was a vinegar bottle with a perforated ceramic attachment to its cork, enabling the ...

Between Victoria and Vauxhall

John Lanchester: The Election, 1 June 2017

... solution to this problem is obvious and has been known for years. It is to build more housing. The Barker review in 2004 came to the conclusion that the UK has an annual shortage of 245,000 new homes. There is a universal consensus about this. Except that there’s no sign anything is actually happening. It is an example of the ideological hegemony Perry ...

Stainless Steel Banana Slicer

David Trotter, 18 March 2021

Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form 
by Sianne Ngai.
Harvard, 401 pp., £28.95, June 2020, 978 0 674 98454 7
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... reader of word and image: one on the novel of ideas from Thomas Mann to J.M. Coetzee and Nicola Barker; the other on the creepily insouciant photographs of Torbjørn Rødland. In both cases, the gimmick’s compromised form seems like the only way to accommodate ‘“ideas” imported from criticism or philosophy’ within a genre, or a medium, long (if ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... he treated them. They all complain about the difficulty or impossibility of getting paid. Clive Barker spells out the most maddening part of it: In the mid-1960s Robert would say to me, ‘I’ll give you that money when I see you.’ But he didn’t realise I needed it that day, to live on. He didn’t understand. It was inconceivable to him that I could ...

Shakespeares

David Norbrook, 18 July 1985

Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism 
edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield.
Manchester, 244 pp., £19.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1752 1
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Alternative Shakespeares 
edited by John Drakakis.
Methuen, 252 pp., £10.50, July 1985, 0 416 36850 6
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Shakespeare and Others 
by S. Schoenbaum.
Scolar, 285 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 85967 691 9
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Illustrations of the English Stage 1580-1642 
by R.A. Foakes.
Scolar, 180 pp., £35, February 1985, 0 85967 684 6
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1743 2
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... was harnessed to official ideologies under Elizabeth and James I. Terence Hawkes, Francis Barker and Peter Hulme (AS), and Paul Brown (PS), link The Tempest with the ideology of colonisation, arguing that the play’s formal involutions reflect, not transcendent truths about illusion and reality, but the ideological ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... wrote William Redfield in Letters from an Actor. ‘He is even less gifted than Richard Burton, Paul Scofield, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud. But he is still the definitive actor of the 20th century. Why? Because he wanted to be.’ Holden’s book never reconciles his notion of Olivier the actor-as-onion with its pages of evidence that the force that ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman, 2 July 2015

The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... had exhausted the poetic impulse. Nothing was left for us to do.’ The Chicago poet and editor Paul Carroll, born in 1926, wrote: To a young poet the scene in American verse in the late 1940s and early 1950s seemed much like walking down 59th Street in New York for the first time. Elegant and sturdy hotels and apartment buildings stand in the enveloping ...

Why are you still here?

James Meek: Who owns Grimsby?, 23 April 2015

... won the seat in a by-election in 1977 after Crosland died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage. Muriel Barker, a veteran local Labour leader who campaigned for both men, told me that the intellectual middle-class southerner Crosland had adopted Grimsby as his own, but had over-idealised the town’s machismo. ‘He liked the working class,’ she said. ‘I think ...

The Lives of Ronald Pinn

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 January 2015

... yet have a particular meaning. For some reason not yet clear to me, I noted down the names of Paul Ives, Graham Paine (‘who lost his life by drowning’), Clifford John Dunn, Ronald Alexander Pinn and John Hill, all of whom were born in the 1960s, as I was, and died early.The practice of using dead children’s identities began in the Metropolitan ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... now 48. Somebody should write about women obsessed with the First World War. Everybody knows Pat Barker, of course, but there’s also Lyn Macdonald – a former BBC producer whose dense, addictive, exhaustively researched oral histories of the war (1914: The Days of Hope, 1915: The Death of Innocence, Somme, They Called It Passchendaele, The Roses of No ...
Rationalism in Politics, and Other Essays 
by Michael Oakeshott, edited by Timothy Fuller.
Liberty, 556 pp., $24, October 1991, 0 86597 094 7
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... is, no gradation in nature’. Commended to the English reader by the impeccably liberal Ernest Barker (who performed the same service for Oakeshott’s survey of contemporary political doctrines soon afterwards, forming an incongruous trait d’ union between the two men), Strauss’s book was on the whole well received by Oakeshott, as the most original ...

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