The map on this book’s cover shows a long, curving coastline, interrupted at one point by water and continuing eastward with inlets and islands. The interruption turns out to separate one island from another, with another fairly rugged coast straggling from west to east. Right at the bottom, two peninsulas jut out: these are Kent and East Anglia. The map, rotating the British Isles by ninety degrees, makes them into a stranger entity, which the historian J G A Pocock named ‘the Atlantic archipelago’. A New Zealander by early education, Pocock offered this term back in 1974 as an alternative to ‘British Isles’, a provocative way of rethinking our past at a time when the future seemed to make Britishness problematic. Today, with Northern Ireland transformed, Scotland’s future in question and government pressure for the English to be more English, reimagining our identities is certainly in the air.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
‘"I feel", Lowell told Hardwick ... "as if I were pulled apart and thinning into mist, or rather being torn apart and still preferring that state to making a decision."'
Richard Davenport-Hines on the letters of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick.
'To me, Elmore Leonard is as comforting in extremity as Pym, and as safe, in the last resort, as Wodehouse. The guys with the best lines are going to come out the other side; the dumb fucks are going to get it in the head or chest.'
'As we read, we know that in a short time the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and colour television will sweep that age over the balustrade and into the sea, but for now everyone is happy.'
Simon Baker is charmed by Graham Swift's new novel, 'Here We Are'.