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On the Turn

Clive Wilmer, 22 June 2000

Collected Shorter Poems: 1966-96 
by John Peck.
Carcanet, 424 pp., £14.95, April 1999, 1 85754 161 8
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... a kinship with that Ezra Pound are likely to be ignored. This is the case with the American poet John Peck, who, now in his late fifties, with a massive and challenging achievement behind him and the devotion of an active British publisher, is unknown not only to general readers but to those who think they know about modern poetry. To be strictly ...

Cambridge Theatre

Donald Davie, 19 August 1982

Swansongs 
by Sue Lenier.
Oleander Press, 80 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 9780906672044
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Collected Poems 
by Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 351 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 10573 4
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Devotions 
by Clive Wilmer.
Carcanet, 63 pp., £3.25, June 1982, 0 85635 359 0
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... when they have been the intimidated colleagues of the late F.R. Leavis. ‘Unashamedly,’ says John Rathmell of Christ’s College, ‘a lyric and romantic poet in the tradition of Blake and Shelley’, thus grossly maligning both Blake and Shelley. (‘Unashamedly’, however, is correct.) Either the Times or the Telegraph had advance knowledge of the ...

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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... do the events of this world lay open to us!’ The thought is echoed in the closing pages of Clive James’s Brilliant Creatures, whose author-hero is said to be a ‘chapter of accidents’, and in the title and precarious plot of Anthony Powell’s O, How the wheel becomes it! The wheel is Ophelia’s, and suggests the incessant circlings of ...

Why aren’t they screaming?

Helen Vendler: Philip Larkin, 6 November 2014

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love 
by James Booth.
Bloomsbury, 532 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4088 5166 1
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... wounded supporters (including Booth in The Poet’s Plight) are still contending against them. John Osborne (director of American Studies at Hull) attempted to refute those denigrating Larkin on ideological grounds in his 2008 Larkin, Ideology and Critical Violence; his new book, Radical Larkin, fortified with literary theory, wishes to reclaim Larkin as a ...

Banality and Anxiety

Michael Mason, 19 March 1981

Thirty Seconds 
by Michael Arlen.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 211 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 27576 9
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The Crystal Bucket 
by Clive James.
Cape, 238 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 224 01890 6
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The Message of Television 
by Roger Silverstone.
Heinemann, 248 pp., £14.50, March 1981, 0 435 82825 8
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... way of taking interesting linguistic risks, but not his way of outrageously surviving them. Clive James writes wonderfully well, of course. He is one of the most remarkable figures in British cultural life at the moment: a poet and gifted literary critic who is also genuinely liked by the mass audience. In crossing the border-posts in our culture he ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: You had better look out, 10 December 1998

... cheer to the rafters each time Germany scored a goal. 8 June. Spot the typo, spare the blush. John Vincent writes from the University of Bristol: ‘In your memorable diaries you quote Disraeli’s view of May 1881, a month after his death. Would that other historians had access to such primary sources!’ 14 June. Alan Bennett’s letter to the LRB about ...

Superchild

John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... controlled by the new kinds of social and aesthetic domination, and by such bogus concepts as Clive Bell’s ‘significant form’. As Diarist, she had an assiduous zest for social goings-on of any kind, and for the places where things were happening. But she had the snob’s fatal lack of independence, of the ability, essential to most good writers, to ...

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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... 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 have to talk about Greenham women as if he were an agent of Lord Gnome? The British Library will catalogue him under ‘Anecdotes, facetiae, satire etc’ – which is ...

Heaven’s Gate

Rosemary Hill, 8 September 1994

Pugin: A Gothic Passion 
edited by Paul Atterbury and Clive Wainwright.
Yale, 310 pp., £45, June 1994, 0 300 06014 9
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... at Windsor and if Her Majesty dips into this volume she may be puzzled by the stern tone in which Clive Wainwright endorses Pugin’s ‘quite proper’ renunciation of her ‘horrific’ furniture, most of which is considered too distressing to illustrate. In Dr Wainwright’s disapproval we hear an authentic echo of Pugin himself, who brought to English ...

Perfidy, Villainy, Intrigue

Ramachandra Guha: The Black Hole, 20 December 2012

Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt 
by Richard Gott.
Verso, 568 pp., £25, November 2011, 978 1 84467 738 2
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The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power 
by Partha Chatterjee.
Princeton, 425 pp., £19.95, April 2012, 978 0 691 15201 1
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... reoccupied the East India Company’s settlement in Calcutta. In June a force led by Robert Clive deposed Siraj after defeating him in a battle near Plassey (Palashi), helped by the defection of the nawab’s key advisers and financial backers to the British side. The first account of the ‘Black Hole’ – as the room where the soldiers were ...

No looking at my elephant

Mary Wellesley: Menageries, 15 December 2016

Menagerie: The History of Exotic Animals in England 1100-1837 
by Caroline Grigson.
Oxford, 349 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 19 871470 5
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... Lisle gave Anne Boleyn a monkey in 1534, she wasn’t pleased. ‘As to touching your monkey,’ John Hussee wrote to Lisle the following year, ‘of a truth, madam, the queen loveth no such beasts nor can scarce abide the sight of them.’ What happened to the monkey isn’t clear. One hopes Anne didn’t do to it what Samuel Pepys did to his pet monkey in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inside Man’, ‘V for Vendetta’ , 11 May 2006

Inside Man 
directed by Spike Lee.
March 2006
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V for Vendetta 
directed by James McTeigue.
March 2006
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... slow for the genre, and the tension keeps slackening into comedy. A small band of criminals led by Clive Owen has held up a bank in lower Manhattan and taken some forty hostages. Are they after the diamonds? Money? The banker’s Nazi papers? Something else? There are plenty of plot twists, but the comedy is much better than the tension was ever going to be. A ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur Gavshon and I may have been, the fact is that without the sustained interest of Guardian readers, and, in my case, the Labour Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on ...

Pound and the Perfect Lady

Donald Davie, 19 September 1985

Pound’s Artists: Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts in London, Paris and Italy 
by Richard Humphreys.
Tate Gallery, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 946590 28 1
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Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1909-1914 
edited by Omar Pound and A. Walton Litz.
Faber, 399 pp., £25, January 1985, 0 571 13480 7
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... Thanks to Clive Wilmer among others, an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, photographs and printed material bearing on Pound’s interests in ‘the visual arts’ was mounted for the Cambridge Poetry Festival on 14 June, and could be seen in Cambridge’s not sufficiently renowned Kettle’s Yard Gallery until 4 August; it will now be at the Tate from 11 September to 10 November ...

No Clapping

Rosemary Hill: The Bloomsbury Memoir Club, 17 July 2014

The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club 
by S.P. Rosenbaum, edited by James Haule.
Palgrave, 203 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 137 36035 9
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... would have caused no consternation among listeners who included Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell. Nor, perhaps, would Forster’s own discomfort with the question of Sex, which played a large, complicated part in his own life: ‘You work it out,’ his essay goes on: ‘I can’t so well.’ Increasingly anguished by the implications of his ...

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