Facetious Fantasies

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

A surprising number of English poets of the 20th century have written for children. Walter de la Mare, Robert Graves, James Reeves, Ian Serraillier, Ted Hughes, Roy Fuller, Charles Causley, Alan Brown-john, Brian Patten: it’s a star-studded list, and no doubt there are some distinguished names that ignorance or forgetfulness have caused me to omit. […]

The Fifties Pint Poet

Posted on by David Gelber

This is an informal history of poetry in English from Piers Plowman to the major figures of the mid-twentieth century, namely Peter Redgrove, Francis Berry, Galway Kinnell and Patrick Kavanagh. Its argument is that the central tradition of English poetry is earthy, alliterative, colloquial, with a strong regard for structure and the claims of plot. […]

Heroic Lance

Posted on by David Gelber

I’m an avid reader of Donleavy’s novels of the sexual picaresque, though I suppose that, as a femininist, I should be ashamed of myself. A new one, Schultz, and the re-issue of The Onion Eaters (1971) and A Fairy Tale of New York (1973) provide a feast. Schultz has all the best-selling Donleavy ingredients: snobbery, […]

Mr Amis’s Mechandise: 3 SF–Drinks and Some shorts

Posted on by David Gelber

If the terms of my title seem a little odd to the reader, the fault is not mine: I have borrowed these from the ‘Introduction’ Mr Amis has seen fit to append to this collected edition of his short fiction. Most of the sixteen pieces gathered in the present volume have appeared before, some in […]

Land of Women

Posted on by David Gelber

Five years ago Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior swept across the American literary scene like a Red army, taking it by storm. It won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and became an instant classic, a memoir of an immigrant’s ancestral past as well as an investigation of the Americanisation of her Chinese soul. […]

Beating the System

Posted on by David Gelber

Marxists are usually energetic and vocal people. Disillusioned Marxists can be even more so. That is the only conclusion possible from an acquaintance with the number and variety of books, magazines and articles published by both groups. Alexis Parnis, like many Greek intellectuals and artists in the Forties, was sympathetic to Marxism. At the end […]

Nehru and India

Posted on by David Gelber

Professor Gopal’s new volume, whose predecessor won high praise, begins with the coming of independence and covers the earlier and more rewarding half of Nehru’s long period in office. He has had the advantage of access to Nehru’s private papers, a very rich storehouse; official records remain closed. It is a biography that he is […]

Christ’s Faithful Apostle

Posted on by Tom Fleming

When Bishop Middleton was consecrated first Bishop of Calcutta in the early nineteenth century to govern an episcopal see that stretched from Australia to South Africa, the Prince Regent is reported to have said to him: ‘Above all, no enthusiasm, my Lord, no enthusiasm.’ This of course, was shortly after John Wesley’s heroic endeavours among […]

Murder and Mayhem

Posted on by Tom Fleming

When John Gardner published his spy-cum-ghost story The Werewolf Trace some years ago David Craig remarked in The New Review that Gardner had obviously realised that the spy story was ‘in need of some help, possibly from the Beyond’. Since then quite a few writers have sought aid from that quarter and spooks temporal have […]

God the Father

Posted on by David Gelber

Dr. Rizzuto’s book is a study of the formation of the God representation and its modification and uses during the entire course of life. She differs from Freud in that she finds this representation is affected by the child’s relationship not only with his real father but also with his mother and other significant early […]

The Plain Man’s Pound

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Michael Alexander offers ‘an introductory critical survey of Pound’s verse as a whole’. After books by Kenner, Davie, Espey, Dekker, Stock and many others, do we still need such a thing? American academics have become divided unevenly into the Pound industry (producing some fascinating work on sources and contexts) and the majority who have put […]

Gasping for Words

Posted on by Tom Fleming

There may be hope for civilisation after all if a dictionary can rise – as this one has done – to the commanding heights of the non-fiction best sellers’ list. The popularity of Collins Dictionary of the English Language is understandable: it is well-presented, crisply-written, frighteningly comprehensive, and, at the price, a real bargain. It […]

Yeats’s Image of Ireland

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In 1889 the 24-year-old W B Yeats wrote in his introduction to Stories from Carleton: ‘If you would know Ireland – body and soul – you must read its poems and stories.’ He was struck by the sound of two different accents in Anglo-Irish literature: that of the gentry and that of the peasantry and […]

He Wrote With a Pen in Each Hand

Posted on by David Gelber

‘Well!’ wrote the 27-year-old Charles Dodgson at the end of a particularly long letter to one of his cousins, ‘you ought to be very much obliged to me for writing so long a letter (and I hate letter-writing as a general rule)’. Some 1400 letters later, you might be forgiven for questioning the applicability of […]

Theatre and Metatheatre

Posted on by David Gelber

Harold Pinter’s two most recent plays have both been supplied with a part-ironic kind of self-definition by their casting. No Man’s Land is an allusive work, full of references to literature outside itself, integrated with a deftness that makes Stoppard, by contrast, look like The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations; but the strongest reference is the […]

The Youthful Lawrence

Posted on by David Gelber

At last – the Lawrence book we have been waiting for. Since Lawrence’s death in 1930 hundreds of critical studies of his work have been published and innumerable copies of his novels sold, yet there is still no reliable edition of his writings or comprehensive collection of his letters. It is, of course, much harder […]

The Magical Power of Money

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It is one of the ironies of American history that the founder of the Pinkerton detective agency, that efficient tool of post civil war capitalism, left Scotland to avoid arrest after his involvement in a Chartist demonstration in 1842. He was, after his arrival in the land of the free, an ardent abolitionist deeply involved […]

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Too Bad About the Novel

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Bam! … Biff! … Pow! – Look out! Here he comes … It’s Tom! Dapper Tom Wolfe in tailored pin-stripes! Black stripes on white, you notice, not the other way round. Ass-backward in fact – that’s Tom, turning the world upside down and inside out and setting it write again! Crack! There goes Bellow, knocked […]

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Higher Gossip

Posted on by David Gelber

Norman Podhoretz is not a glamorous figure. He tells us that Saul Bellow, soon after the publication of his first novel, received a call from Hollywood. He assumed that they were after the screen rights, but it turned out that it was his profile (on the back of the jacket), not his prose, which had […]

Ambushed by Language

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In the middle of his long poem From the Rising of the Sun, Czeslaw Milosz contemplates a remote river in Oregon. Its name is the Rogue River, a translation of the French ‘Riviere des Coquins’; the French name arose after Indians had ambushed some French trappers; the Indian name is lost forever. ‘A word should […]

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