Books

The Mountains of Parnassus: Czeslaw Milosz’s curious sci-fi experiment

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Science fiction is not the first thing one thinks of in connection with the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, though the…

Self-portrait

David Jones – the 20th century’s great neglected genius

1 April 2017 9:00 am

When Stravinsky visited David Jones in his cold Harrow bedsit, he came away saying, ‘I have been in the presence…

Ezra Pound as a young man

Was Ezra Pound mad?

18 February 2017 9:00 am

On 21 December 1945, Ezra Pound was confined to St Elizabeths hospital in Washington DC. He had broadcast for Rome…

Josette Day and Jean Marias in La Belle et La Bête, one of Cocteau’s most visually stunning films

Jean Cocteau: confessions of an opium addict

7 January 2017 9:00 am

All biography is both an act of homage and a labour of dissection, and all biographers are jealous of their…

The only way wasn’t Wessex

19 November 2016 9:00 am

The ten pallbearers at Thomas Hardy’s funeral in Westminster Abbey on 16 January 1928 included Kipling, Barrie, Housman, Gosse, Galsworthy,…

Rabih Alameddine’s desperate protagonist is plagued by Death, the Devil and the ashes of former lovers

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Shades of The Master and Margarita haunt Rabih Alameddine’s sixth book, in which Jacob, a Yemeni-born poet with a day…

Gale-force lyricism from Iceland’s most poetic novelist

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Centuries before their footballers learned giant-slaying ways, Icelanders knew how to startle the world with tall stories. In the moonscape…

War Porn: a novel of the Iraq war that rewards repeated rereading

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In the first year or so of the Iraq occupation — or ‘big Army goatfuck’, as it is not quite…

How I survived my nightmare upbringing, by Ariel Leve

30 July 2016 9:00 am

All parents worry about the extent to which their children will expose their private weirdness to the world. They tell…

St Mark’s Gospel is as good as EastEnders

30 July 2016 9:00 am

More brides in Britain go down the aisle to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ than to any other tune, Simon…

‘Stack building, Malvern Hills’, by Laura Knight

A.E. Housman: the laureate of repression

2 July 2016 9:00 am

A.E. Housman’s poems leave us with the impression of fire that has been carefully wrapped in ice, says Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Craig Raine: the critics’ greatest critic

2 July 2016 9:00 am

In My Grandmother’s Glass Eye, Raine has nothing but contempt for his poet-critic contemporaries – ‘bad readers’ who ‘get poetry wrong’

‘The upper part of the cascade at Hafod’ by John ‘Warwick’ Smith, 1793

How to view the view

20 February 2016 9:00 am

It’s not all picnics and cowslips. You need sense as well as sensibility to appreciate a landscape, says Mary Keen

An otter’s metabolism is so high that you’d have to eat 88 Big Macs a day to match it

Charles Foster: ‘I need to be more of a badger’

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Being a Beast is an impassioned and proselytising work of philosophy based on a spectacular approach to nature writing. That…

The confessions of Gerard Manley Hopkins

9 January 2016 9:00 am

‘I am 12 miles from a lemon,’ lamented that bon vivant clergyman Sydney Smith on reaching one country posting. He…

Rex Whistler: ‘a desolate sense of loneliness amidst so much fun’

14 November 2015 9:00 am

When Hugh and Mirabel Cecil’s book In Search of Rex Whistler was published in 2012, the late Brian Sewell reviewed…

Hughes in 1986: Bate simply fails to make the case his book stands on – that the poet was a sadist

An unauthorised, and unconvincing, biography of Ted Hughes

3 October 2015 8:00 am

Craig Raine says that Jonathan Bate’s unauthorised biography of Ted Hughes gets it wrong on every level

‘Capel-y-ffin’, 1926–7 (watercolour and gouache)

David Jones: painter, poet and mystic

26 September 2015 8:00 am

David Jones (1895–1974) was a remarkable figure: artist and poet, he was a great original in both disciplines. His was…

‘Doorways to the unknown’: Clive James’s Latest Readings

22 August 2015 9:00 am

In the preface to his great collection of essays The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden claimed: ‘I prefer a critic’s notebooks…

Jonathan Galassi’s fictional poet made me doubt my knowledge of American literature

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Jonathan Galassi is an American publisher, poet and translator. In his debut novel Muse, his passion for the ‘good old…

‘Thetis giving Achilles his arms’ (fresco), Giulio Romano, 1492–1546

A new translation of the Iliad

8 August 2015 9:00 am

‘Why do another translation of Homer?’ Richmond Lattimore asked in the foreword to his own great translation of the Iliad…

Helen Vendler is full of condescending waffle (and not just when she’s attacking me)

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Is it possible to tell a good poem from a bad one? To put the question another way: are there…

Edward Thomas: the prolific hack (who wrote a book review every three days for 14 years) turned to poetry just in time

23 May 2015 9:00 am

Edward Thomas was gloomy as Eeyore. In 1906 he complained to a friend that his writing ‘was suffering more &…

Tom Eliot — a very practical cat. Did T.S. Eliot simply recycle every personal experience into poetry?

31 January 2015 9:00 am

T.S. Eliot may have put much of his early life into his poetry, says Daniel Swift, but The Waste Land remains a marvellous mystery that defies explanation

Benjamin Robert Haydon’s portrait of William Wordsworth

Sunday roasts and beaded bubbles: dining with the poets

3 January 2015 9:00 am

In December 1817 Benjamin Robert Haydon — vivid diarist and painter of huge but inferior canvases of historic events —…