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Michi and Meiji

Nobuko Albery, 24 July 1986

Principles of Classical Japanese Literature 
edited by Earl Miner.
Princeton, 281 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 691 06635 3
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The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature 
by Earl Miner, Hiroko Odagiri and Robert Morrell.
Princeton, 570 pp., £39.50, March 1986, 0 691 06599 3
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Mitford’s Japan: The Memoirs and Recollections, 1866-1906, of Algernon Bertram Mitford, the First Lord Redesdale 
edited by Hugh Cortazzi.
Athlone, 270 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 485 11275 2
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... I once received this stern admonition from an English editor: ‘If you intend to be a Japanese novelist whom we are translating into English, okay – I accept your manuscript as it is and will get on with publication. But if you wish to be considered an English writer, then you must rewrite. Don’t narrate to us, show us. And-then-and-then is not the way we want a story told ...

Do what you wish, du Maurier

E.S. Turner, 31 March 1988

Maxwell 
by Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 525 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 356 17172 8
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Maxwell: The Outsider 
by Tom Bower.
Aurum, 374 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 948149 88 4
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Maxwell: A Portrait of Power 
by Peter Thompson and Anthony Delano.
Bantam, 256 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 593 01499 5
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Goodbye Fleet Street 
by Robert Edwards.
Cape, 260 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 224 02457 4
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... A reviewer faced with 1,155 pages about RobertMaxwell is entitled to look at the pictures first. Joe Haines’s biography contains over eighty photographs of his hero, many in colour. Mostly they show him hobnobbing with crowned heads, presidents or prime ministers, with a pop star or a footballer thrown in ...

In the Hyacinth Garden

Richard Poirier: ‘But oh – Vivienne!’, 3 April 2003

Painted Shadow: A Life of Vivienne Eliot 
by Carole Seymour-Jones.
Constable, 702 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 1 84119 636 3
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... James, followed by Pound himself, Gertrude Stein, and just recently, that robustly American figure Robert Frost who, with his wife and children, had in 1913 taken up residence outside London, and from there, with Pound’s assistance and to considerable public acclaim, published A Boy’s Will, his first book of poems. According to Valerie Eliot, it was Pound ...

One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith, 3 December 1992

An Evil Cradling 
by Brian Keenan.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £16.99, September 1992, 0 09 175208 6
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Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives 
by Con Coughlin.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 316 90304 3
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... have missed during his captivity. Employed by the same organisation as McCarthy’s friend Jill Morrell, I was asked by the children to pass on a collection of their work to her. One picture had been painted by a boy called Timothy, who was born on the day that McCarthy was seized. When McCarthy was held hostage in Beirut, journalists found themselves ...

What was left out

Lawrence Rainey: Eliot’s Missing Letters, 3 December 2009

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. I: 1898-1922 
edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton.
Faber, 871 pp., £35, November 2009, 978 0 571 23509 4
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... Corrections to the dates of subsequent letters are also duly made. One more example: a letter to Robert McAlmon that was mistakenly assigned to 2 May 1921 in the first edition, but is correctly assigned to 22 May in this one. It matters a lot, because it is written on the same paper used in three other letters written between 9 and 22 May; Eliot also used ...

Westward Ho

Frank Kermode, 7 February 1985

The Letters of D.H. Lawrence. Vol. III: October 1916 - June 1921 
edited by James Boulton and Andrew Robertson.
Cambridge, 762 pp., £25, November 1984, 0 521 23112 4
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Brett: From Bloomsbury to New Mexico 
by Sean Hignett.
Hodder, 299 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 9780340229736
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... last twenty years. They are still turning up: this volume contains letters, formerly unknown, to Robert Mountsier, who later became Lawrence’s agent in the US, and a batch to Douglas Goldring. The volume covers an interesting period. The Lawrences were having a bad time in Cornwall up to October 1917, when they were expelled by the police. Then they ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... for Dunbar – but Eliot’s fine sense of naming in poetry owes more to 19th-century precedents. Robert Browning, who called one of his lippiest poems not ‘Filippo Lippi’ (the name by which the artist was usually known) but ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’, had the name-gift, and some of his finest poems bear the names of their speakers. Eliot owed more to Browning ...

You gu gu and I gu gu

Andrew O’Hagan: Vaslav Nijinsky, 20 July 2000

The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky 
edited by Joan Acocella and Kyril Fitzylon.
Allen Lane, 312 pp., £20, August 1999, 0 7139 9354 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £12, May 2000, 0 333 76622 9
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... stopped still in the air.’ The Russians, he added, ‘can redeem our civilisation’. Ottoline Morrell was more impressed by Nijinsky’s chokers – they became fashionable with all the hostesses in London – and found the dangerous side of his reputation quite alluring. At lunch, however, she found him ‘rather ugly’, and a bit ‘like a ...

For ever England

John Lucas, 16 June 1983

Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... Yet, to his credit, Infantry Officer Sassoon had been entirely serious when he wrote his letter. Robert Graves and other friends understood that much, which was why they were so keen to get Sassoon certified as insane. If he was mad he could not be held responsible for his actions. So Macamble’s advice makes perfectly good sense. For Sherston to be proved ...

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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... drew a decidedly crisp letter from Lady Mosley, who called it ‘fanciful in the extreme’. As Robert Skidelsky said of the meeting in his Oswald Moslev: ‘The number of future memoir writers and Labour politicians in the audience alone ensured that it would be talked about for years to come.’ There were also a hundred angry busmen present, out for ...

Strenuously Modern

Rosemary Hill: At Home with the Stracheys, 3 March 2005

Bombay to Bloomsbury: A Biography of the Strachey Family 
by Barbara Caine.
Oxford, 488 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 19 925034 0
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... a Somerset gentry family which had served in India since Henry Strachey went out as secretary to Robert Clive. Jane was clever, as patchily educated as most women of her class and generation, but determined to learn and with ‘a vein in her’, as Lytton later recalled, ‘of oddity and caprice’. Richard, anti-social, a hypochondriac and old enough to be ...

Herberts & Herbertinas

Rosemary Hill: Steven Runciman, 20 October 2016

Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman 
by Minoo Dinshaw.
Penguin, 767 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 241 00493 7
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... His books were popular with his ‘grandest and smartest acquaintances’ such as Ottoline Morrell. The First Bulgarian Empire was followed by Byzantine Civilisation and The Medieval Manichee, which was finished in 1940 but not published until 1947. By then Runciman had acquired a reputation as an erudite historian with a rich prose style and a touchy ...

Dreams of the Decades

Liz Jobey: Bill Brandt, 8 July 2004

Bill Brandt: A Life 
by Paul Delany.
Cape, 336 pp., £35, March 2004, 0 224 05280 2
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Bill Brandt: A Centenary Retrospective 
Victoria & Albert MuseumShow More
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... on Buddenbrooks for life among the haute bourgeoisie in prewar Germany and Swiss sanatoria, and Robert Musil’s Young Törless for possible events during Brandt’s schooldays. Where there is no proof, there is supposition. For example: ‘There is ample evidence that Brandt suffered a psychic wound in his school days, something so hurtful that it affected ...

A Great Big Silly Goose

Seamus Perry: Characteristically Spenderish, 21 May 2020

Poems Written Abroad: The Lilly Library Manuscript 
by Stephen Spender.
Indiana, 112 pp., £27.99, July 2019, 978 0 253 04167 8
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... a friend of Nicolsons, Lehmanns and Woolfs, who lunched with Eliot, Herbert Read and Lady Ottoline Morrell, and a reviewer in the leading journals. A pamphlet, Twenty Poems, had appeared to much acclaim in 1930, and three years later Poems was published by Faber to strikingly good reviews. ‘Another Shelley speaks in these lines,’ Herbert Read wrote. The ...

The History Boy

Alan Bennett: Exam-taking, 3 June 2004

... that was it. A stock vision of undergraduates then (gleaned from movies like A Yank at Oxford with Robert Taylor) was of a young man in dressing-gown and slippers, a towel round his neck en route for the distant baths. I didn’t run to a dressing-gown and slippers either: ‘Nobody’ll mind if you just wear your raincoat,’ my mother reassuringly said. I ...

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