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Love and Crime

Theodore Zeldin, 6 March 1980

Recollections and Reflections of a Country Policeman 
by W.C. May.
A.H. Stockwell (Ilfracombe), 342 pp., £6.60, July 1979, 0 7223 1199 0
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The Police in Society 
by Ben Whitaker.
Eyre Methuen, 351 pp., £6.95, March 1979, 9780413342003
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... the novelist will have to withdraw? I do not think so: love and crime have more in common than may appear at first sight. Love is one of the revolutionary forces of modern times: in its intense and individualistic form, it has increasingly subverted the preoccupation with prestige and property that once governed marriage and, indeed, society as a whole. It ...

Old America

W.C. Spengemann, 7 January 1988

Look homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe 
by David Herbert Donald.
Bloomsbury, 579 pp., £16.95, April 1987, 0 7475 0004 5
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From this moment on: America in 1940 
by Jeffrey Hart.
Crown, 352 pp., $19.95, February 1987, 9780517557419
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... to the present, can help us all to feel more at home in this strange place. Nostalgic historians may be classified according to the times and places in which they locate their homes. Some, like Henry Adams, seem to discover that far country through study and then begin to remember it as their own birthplace. Others, like David Donald and Jeffrey ...

Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

A.J.P. Taylor: A Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 468 pp., £18.99, January 1994, 1 85619 210 5
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A.J.P. Taylor: The Traitor within the Gates 
by Robert Cole.
Macmillan, 285 pp., £40, November 1993, 0 333 59273 5
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From Napoleon to the Second International: International Essays on the 19th Century 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Chris Wrigley.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 241 13444 7
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... until you try to do it.’ In 1977, when this comment was first published, some younger readers may have asked themselves: W.C. Who? Typically, this was not a forced, would-be trendy allusion to current vogues of popular culture in the electronic media but an authentically personal image, implicitly framed in nostalgia. Nothing odd about that from an Oxford ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... of instability, movement, pressure – something approaching synaptic assault, a feeling that may seem familiar to anyone who has spent time in Midtown or Lower Manhattan during working hours. This effect is amplified by the proliferation of reflections and refractions from the windows of the moving trains. Another tendency both poets share, and which ...

That’s Liquor!

Nick James, 7 March 1996

Leaving Las Vegas 
directed by Mike Figgis.
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... finance on Leaving Las Vegas.) Modern Hollywood is in denial about booze. Hard drinking may still have a glimmer of the macho aura that surrounded it when the Hemingway-influenced generation of screenwriters filled the studio writers ‘buildings in the Thirties, but in Nineties blockbuster movies even policemen and criminals mostly drink ...

What became of Modernism?

C.K. Stead, 1 May 1980

Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... to the best in poetry. In all the arts, there are broad movements which are inexorable. You may choose to swim against the tide, and perhaps do it very well, but you can’t turn it back; and English poets for half a century have mostly chosen to swim against what my hunch as a literary historian tells me will prove to have been the major tide of poetry ...
An Awfully Big Adventure 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 193 pp., £10.95, December 1989, 0 7156 2204 8
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The Thirteen-Gun Salute 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins, 319 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 00 223460 2
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Family Sins, and Other Stories 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 251 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 370 31374 7
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... accidental meeting with his daughter, who has not (as he supposes) come to see him. Remittance men may not have disappeared off the face of the earth, but they are no longer commonly found in fiction. An interview between a man and his wife’s lover about arrangements for the separation leads to a moment of self-discovery which takes its force from the ...

Ranklings

Philip Horne, 30 August 1990

Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... joke continues to run because James is worried about the worldly obscurity his stylistic obscurity may end in, and the comic heightening of their contrasted fortunes flatters even as it caricatures her. They share the joke, but it in no way settles their differences. In 1913, worried at James’s anxieties about money, she tried to get up a $5000 birthday gift ...

Ancient Orthodoxies

C.K. Stead, 23 May 1991

Antidotes 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 908 4
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Dog Fox Field 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 103 pp., £6.95, February 1991, 0 85635 950 5
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True Colours 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 102 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 910 6
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Eating strawberries in the Necropolis 
by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1991, 0 00 272076 0
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... be honest, without pretensions; the poetic problem, or part of it, that to strip away all colour may leave only a faint wash. Because the language is so neutral, it is the form in these lines which eye and ear find themselves debating. A slight awkwardness can add charm and authenticity: but when I come to the tenth line, which has the right number of ...
... Things do happen, things do get done and said in the stories, even though sometimes people may be talking at cross-purposes at times, or seemingly to no good purpose. KB: I’m interested in those stories which appear in different forms in different collections. Are they different versions of one story or different stories? RC: I feel they’re ...

Into Your Enemy’s Stomach

Alexander Murray: Louis IX, 8 April 2010

Saint Louis 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Gareth Evan Gollrad.
Notre Dame, 947 pp., £61.95, February 2009, 978 0 268 03381 1
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... around 400 ad by holy men, like bishops, then by other categories, including those kings who may or may not have been saintly. Louis IX of France was the first major king to be made a saint. His reign, from 1226 to 1270, forms the middle episode in an unbroken success story for the French monarchy, a story which had ...

Catastrophe

Claude Rawson, 1 October 1981

The Sinking of the Titanic 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Carcanet, 98 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 85635 372 8
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Paul Celan: Poems 
translated by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 307 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85635 313 2
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Talk about the Last Poet 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 78 pp., £4.50, July 1981, 0 370 30434 9
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... says ‘third-class passenger Daniel Buckley’ admitted seeking safety this way and there may have been others) and a Gothic phantasmagoria of ‘hermaphrodites ... showing their orifices’ in the Turkish bath and dowagers getting themselves whipped under the card table by depraved cabin boys. The official account of an orderly and even ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne, 3 September 1981

David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... probably skip the hermetic accounts of American football games, as earnest as Sportsnight. They may enjoy Reagan’s tales of his beginnings in radio, including the inadvertent signing-off of Aimée Semple McPherson, the evangelist, with a Mills Brothers record of ‘Minnie the Moocher’s Wedding Day’. And they’ll wince at his verdict on filming The ...

Suffocating Suspense

Richard Davenport-Hines, 16 March 2000

Cult Criminals: The Newgate Novels 1830-47 
by Juliet John.
Routledge, 2750 pp., £399, December 1998, 0 415 14383 7
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... Lady of Lyons proved so humiliating to the Times in 1838 that it retaliated with an attack which W.C Macready called ‘vulgar, virulent and impotent from its display of malice’. Bulwer-Lytton was thought too delicate for education at Eton, and was tutored at home under the eye of a protective mother. His Bulwer father owned the Wood Dalling estate in ...

Sagest of Usurpers

Ian Gilmour: Cromwell since Cromwell, 21 March 2002

Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity 
by Blair Worden.
Allen Lane, 387 pp., £20, November 2001, 9780713996036
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... Hume, who had earlier mocked the Sidney cult, found it ‘amusing to observe the general and I may say national rage’. Shortly after the exposure of Sidney, John Wilkes – in the House of Commons, of all places – extolled Cromwell’s ‘wonderful, comprehensive mind’ which ‘embraced the whole of this powerful empire’. A few years before, Wilkes ...

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