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Thomas Jones: Silly mistakes and blood for Bush, 4 December 2003

... The recent (2000) Vintage Classics edition seemed as good a bet as any: it has a nice picture of a peacock swanking on the cover, and costs only £6.99. Loving, first published in 1945, is concerned with the lives of the servants in an Anglo-Irish country house during World War Two. Mrs Tennant, the mistress of the house, is away in London for much of the ...

Wielded by a Wizard

Seamus Perry: Shelley’s Kind of Glee, 3 January 2019

Selected Poems and Prose 
by Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Jack Donovan and Cian Duffy.
Penguin, 893 pp., £12.99, January 2017, 978 0 241 25306 9
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... is no longer there except as an intuition or perhaps a fiction: Shelley charms the star into what Thomas Hardy – a great admirer though a very different sort of poet – once called ‘existlessness’. And, to add to the sense of abstraction, this is a metaphor for a metaphor, since Shelley is likening the dwindling star to the soaring skylark, a bird ...

As God Intended

Rosemary Hill: Capability Brown, 5 January 2012

The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-83 
by Jane Brown.
Chatto, 384 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8212 0
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... the idea of a seat, and appropriate a whole country to the mansion’, as his contemporary Thomas Whately put it. Brown was attacked as a result, directly by Cowper in The Task and implicitly by Goldsmith in The Deserted Village. Yet his life also tells the opposite story of the considerable social mobility available to the educated Georgian ...

A Peacock Called Mirabell

August Kleinzahler: James Merrill, 31 March 2016

James Merrill: Life and Art 
by Langdon Hammer.
Knopf, 913 pp., £27, April 2015, 978 0 375 41333 9
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... art. His own life, or his life recalled, was his principal theme, and Proust, with whom he fell in love during his first year at college, his principal model. The considerable archive he donated to the Olin Library at Washington University in St Louis includes not only drafts of poems and letters but notebooks, calendars, guest books, along with more than ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... than her own Felix, who ‘loved that old and documented splendour with something of the love of the lion for its tamer – that sweat-tarnished spangled enigma that, in bringing the beast to heel, had somehow turned towards him a face like his own ...’ The extravagant manner easily slips into the ridiculous: ‘And I do not permit you to suffer ...

Other Things

J.I.M. Stewart, 2 February 1984

Soor Hearts 
by Robert Alan Jamieson.
Paul Harris, 166 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 86228 072 9
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The Life and Loves of a She-Devil 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 240 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 9780340332283
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Cathedral 
by Raymond Carver.
Collins, 230 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 00 222790 8
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The Cannibal Galaxy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 162 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 436 35483 7
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The Collected Works of Jane Bowles 
introduced by Truman Capote.
Peter Owen, 476 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0613 6
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Let it come down 
by Paul Bowles.
Peter Owen, 318 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0614 4
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... years, returns to the fishing village from which he had fled under suspicion of having murdered Thomas Pole. Nearly everyone believes him guilty, since the two young men had been seen to quarrel. Both had been drinking heavily for a fortnight, and when Pole was found ‘with his head crushed under a fearful blow’ Doull took fright and bolted from the ...

Morgan to his Friends

Denis Donoghue, 2 August 1984

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... like the Lawrence who talks to Hilda and sees birds and is physically restful and wrote The White Peacock, he doesn’t know why; but I do not like the deaf impercipient fanatic who has nosed over his own little sexual round until he believes that there is no other path for others to take, he sometimes interests & sometimes frightens & angers me, but in the ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... readers on the poetry scene, what is proper to it. But Walter de la Mare’s line ‘Who said, “Peacock Pie”?’ is not just appropriate to a poem for children. It is a real question, just as this, from Stevie Smith, is real information: Cool and plain Cool and plain Was the message of love on the window pane. Soft and ...

Apocalypse

David Trotter, 14 September 1989

The Rainbow 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 672 pp., £55, March 1989, 0 521 22869 7
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D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World 
edited by Peter Preston and Peter Hoare.
Macmillan, 221 pp., £29.50, May 1989, 0 333 45269 0
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D.H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreading 
by Peter Balbert.
Macmillan, 190 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 333 43964 3
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... about editorial method: John Worthen, one of the three editors of the Cambridge Women in Love, describes his approach in D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World and defends it in Essays in Criticism (April 1989). Yet, as H.M. Daleski points out in the same collection, Joyce has effectively eclipsed Lawrence as the representative or iconic 20th-century ...

Return of the Male

Martin Amis, 5 December 1991

Iron John: A Book about Men 
by Robert Bly.
Element, 268 pp., £12.95, September 1991, 9781852302337
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The way men think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination 
by Liam Hudson and Bernadine Jacot.
Yale, 219 pp., £16.95, November 1991, 0 300 04997 8
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Utne Reader. Men, it’s time to pull together: The Politics of Masculinity 
Lens, 144 pp., $4, May 1991Show More
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... anti-talent for it (the Oscars, the primaries, the hearings, the trials, Shirley Temple, Clarence Thomas, Andrea Dworkin, Al Sharpton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Swaggart). Whereas, over here, maleness itself has become an embarrassment. Male consciousness, male pride, male rage – we don’t want to hear about it. This of course is the very diffidence and ...

On your way, phantom

Colin Burrow: ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, 7 June 2012

Bring Up the Bodies 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 411 pp., £20, May 2012, 978 0 00 731509 3
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... Its predecessor, Wolf Hall, the first part of what will be a trilogy of novels about the life of Thomas Cromwell, carried the burden of beginning and perhaps also of containing too much history.* In it Thomas Cromwell frees Henry VIII from his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, engineers his union with Anne Boleyn by ...

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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... platitudes, a civil servant mangling a story, a mime of minimal narrative competence which makes Thomas Mann’s bumbling Zeitblom look like Nabokov. ‘Insofar as the cliché can be used without irony,’ we read a little earlier, ‘he had become a respected literary voice.’ A cliché can’t be used without irony unless you forget it’s a cliché, and ...

Looking for a Way Up

Rosemary Hill: Roy Strong’s Vanities, 25 April 2013

Self-Portrait as a Young Man 
by Roy Strong.
Bodleian, 286 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 1 85124 282 5
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... case via a series of discoveries and reversals. His studies were a continuation of a childhood love of 16th-century miniatures that had led him, as a schoolboy, to make drawings in the style of Nicholas Hilliard. He was interested not only in the paintings but the dress, jewellery and rituals of the age. Such interests were not encouraged at university. At ...

Stag at Bay

Adam Phillips: Byron in Geneva, 25 August 2011

Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 189 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84631 643 2
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... one of the stories of his life. In a biography published in 1830, six years after Byron’s death, Thomas Moore reported a conversation between the schoolboy Byron and his tutor ‘Dummer’ Rogers. Witnessing the terrible treatment the boy was given for his club foot, Rogers remarked, ‘It makes me uncomfortable, my Lord, to see you sitting there in such ...

The Great Dissembler

James Wood: Thomas More’s Bad Character, 16 April 1998

The Life of Thomas More 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 435 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 711 5
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... Thomas More, the scrupulous martyr, is the complete English saint. But no man can be a saint in God’s eyes, and no man should be one in ours; and certainly not Thomas More. He is seen as a Catholic martyr because he died opposing Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the King’s robbery from the Pope of the leadership of the English Church ...

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