War Letters of Ivor Gurney edited by R. K. R. Thornton (Hogarth Press, £4.95). Ivor Gurney's first collection of poems, Severn and Somme, appeared in 1917 while he was still in hospital in Edinburgh recovering from his experiences in the first World War. he was gassed at Passchendaele in 1916. Prone to mental instability from then onwards, he attempted suicide in 1918, and spent the last 15 years of his life in a mental hospital.
Dr Thornton has here collected and edited Guerney's letters from the trenches, sent to his friends back in England. They give a vivid insight into the dreadful experiences at the front which were to scar Guerney for the rest of his short life.
Elizabeth Bishop: The Complete Poems 1929-1979 (Hogarth Press, £6.95). To be both popularly and critically acclaimed was just one of Elizabeth Bishop's achievements. This volume gathers together all this Pultizer Prize-winning poetess's works, from her earliest, written at the tender age of 16, to her final work Sonnet, published posthumously. One is struck throughout by her unflinching
eye for truth in the world which she celebrates so beautifully.
Dividing Lines by Victor Sage (Chatto, £4.50). This first collection of short stories is marked by a sardonic humour, but by real human concern too. All the characters are in some sense outsiders, living on the limits of society, sometimes by choice, other times out of necessity, or because of rejection — for instance the frustrated librarian in "Obscurity" who resents his lack of recognition as a great literary figure.
The Brothers Powys by Richard Perceval Graves (OUP, £3.95). The Powys brothers have been likened to the Bronta sisters as a great literary family. Three of the brothers, John Cowper Powys, author of the magical Glastonbury Romance, Theodore Francis Powys, writer of Unclay, Kindness in a Corner and Mr Weston's Good Wine, and Llewellyn Powys, of Dorset Essays and Skin for Skin fame, will be known to the general reader already. The strange melancholy and cruel twists of fortune which have accompanied the family are explored in a fascinating and thorough account.
Voltaire in Love by Nancy Mitford (Hamish Hamilton £4.5 9). After a brief acquaintance, Voltaire eloped with the beautiful Marquise du Chatelet to her chateau. The story of their romance which endured for 11 years (until he left her for his niece) is charmingly told by Nancy Mitford, an acknowledged expert on the period.
The Years with Ross by James Thurber (I-tarnish Hamilton, £4.95) Harold Ross was The New Yorker's editor from its founding in 1925 until his death in 1951. His eccentricities, searing passions and stormy relations with his staff form the basis of this account of his surprisingly successful years as editor.
II Gimmick: Italian as Italians speak it by Adrienne (Hutchinson, £4.95). How to be angry, how to fall in love, how to be vulgar and how to be polite all in Italian are all included in this rather silly book, which falls unhappily between being a textbook and being a tourist phrase book.
The Life of John Milton by A N Wilson (OUP. £3.50). A N Wilson, in this highly entertaining biography, skilfully brings out the fundamental consistency in Milton's poetry and his prose writings. The autobiographical nature of much of Milton's poetry is highlighted, making this an invaluable guide. '
Cal by Bernard Mac Laverty (King Penguin, £2.50). This haunting and bitter love story is set in the north of Ireland. Catholic Cal falls in love with Protestant Marcella whose policeman husband was killed by Cal's IRA accomplices. This finely woven and beautifully observed novel avoids the obvious trap of .treating a serious situation trivially.
The Will to Believe by Richard Johnstone (OUP, £3.50) Edward Upward. Rex Warner, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Christopher Isherwood and George Orwell are here grouped together as part of the Thirties generation. Their common childhood in the destructive might of the first World War is central to Richard Johnstone's theme that all six felt a profound need to replace what they had lost then with "something to believe in".