Profile for Mr. B. P. Van-asten > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mr. B. P. Van-...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,765
Helpful Votes: 231

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mr. B. P. Van-asten (London, England.)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-18
pixel
Ghost Detective
Ghost Detective

5.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Detective - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Feb 2014
This review is from: Ghost Detective (Kindle Edition)
Published in 2004, ‘Ghost Detective’ is the culmination of two years of research by Adrian Perkins, interviewing various people who have had actual paranormal experiences. Perkins shows a deep understanding and passion for all things that go ‘bump in the night’ and apparently wrote the book because he was tired of reading the same old ghost stories. And so he investigated new, unknown cases which he presents for us in this entertaining little book. Many of these curious accounts occurred in and around Perkin’s home county of Northamptonshire and he cannot be praised highly enough for bringing these tales to light. Despite the numerous spelling errors I would certainly rate this refreshingly interesting book as very good indeed!


Terence Rattigan
Terence Rattigan
by Geoffrey Wansell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terence Rattigan - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Nov 2013
This review is from: Terence Rattigan (Paperback)
This is a fine biography (originally published in 1996) of the playwright Terence Mervyn Rattigan (1911-1977) and Geoffrey Wansell captures the atmosphere of his times perfectly. Rattigan's first success in the West End was his comedy `French without tears' in 1936, followed by the well-known drama `The Winslow boy' (1946) and the excellent `The Browning version' (1948). His other works include: `The Deep Blue Sea' (1952), `Separate Tables' (1954), `Ross' (1960) and `Cause Celebre' (1977).
Rattigan's middle-class `French-window dramas' became unfavourable in the 1950's and 60's when the so-called `kitchen-sink' dramatists such as Shelagh Delaney (1939-2011) and John Osborne (1929-1994) became popular. Despite this, Rattigan has proved to be a lasting influence and his plays which dealt with love in all its forms from one-sided passions, homosexual themes and unexpressed feelings are still loved by audiences the world over. Marvellous!


Virginia Woolf: A Biography (Pimlico)
Virginia Woolf: A Biography (Pimlico)
by Quentin Bell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Virginia Woolf - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Nov 2013
`Virginia Woolf' by Quentin Bell, a nephew of the great writer, his father being the art critic Clive Bell (1881-1964) who married Virginia's sister Vanessa, is an excellent work which ascends to the highest standards in the art of biography. Originally published as two volumes in 1972, Bell takes us through all the major stages of Virginia's life from her early childhood and writings, through to the Bloomsbury Group, her marriage to Leonard Woolf (1880-1969) in 1912 and the mental illness which eventually drove her to end her life.
She was born Adeline Virginia Stephen in 1882 and she lived with her sister Vanessa and her brothers at Hyde Park Gate, London, before moving to Bloomsbury after her father Sir Leslie Stephen's death in 1904. After her first novel; `The Voyage Out' was published in 1915 and the Hogarth Press was set up with her husband Leonard two years later, she really came into her own creatively. Many of Woolf's characters are drawn from life, from the people around her as an exploration of the relationship and intimacy she had with them and with the world around her. Her works include: `Night and Day' (1919), `Jacob's Room' (1922), `Mrs Dalloway' (1925), `To the Lighthouse' (1927), `Orlando' (1928), `The Waves' (1931), `The Years' (1937) and `Between the Acts' (1941) which after completion she drowned herself in the River Ouse, near her home in Rodmell, Sussex on 28th March 1941.
Bell introduces the weird and wonderful characters which along with Virgina came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group, a very progressive and creative force in art and attitudes to sexuality, such as the biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), a homosexual sado-masochist; the art critic and painter Roger Fry (1886-1934); the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946); the bisexual novelist and critic David Garnett (1892-1981) and the painter Duncan Grant (1885-1978).
Quentin Bell's `Virginia Woolf' is a masterpiece of biography, drawing upon the extensive literary archives: letters, diaries, essays, polemics, and biographical writings and of course, the novels. It is an excellent introduction for anyone wishing to understand the background and genius of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers! Excellent!


Auden (Vintage Lives)
Auden (Vintage Lives)
by Richard Davenport-Hines
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Auden - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Nov 2013
This review is from: Auden (Vintage Lives) (Paperback)
During the nineteen-thirties, the poet Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) became a spokesman for his generation; a voice for the young left-wing intellectuals and he published his first collection of `Poems' in 1930. The collection set the tone incorporating his radical and even political viewpoint, with themes suggesting that England was infested with spies and characteristically `buttoned-up' by repressed instincts. Even at Christ Church, Oxford, Auden set himself up as a significant leader of the modern poets which included his friend and collaborator Stephen Spender (1909-1995), Louis MacNeice (1907-1963) and Cecil Day Lewis (1904-1972).
Auden was typically curious about `other countries' and `other people'; he was very fond of Germany, travelling there with Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) before the war. He also visited Iceland with Louis MacNeice in 1936 and even found his way to China. In 1937 he spent two months in Spain supporting the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Isherwood collaborated with Auden on plays with a left-wing slant and in 1939 they went to live in the United States. Many people felt a sense of betrayal at Auden's decision to leave when England's course was set on war with Germany. In the States he met and fell in love with Chester Kallman (1921-1975), who also became his assistant in writing the libretti for Stravinsky's `The Rake's Progress' in 1951.
After 1941 Auden's more complex, later works became increasingly Christian in their tone. He was a master of the verse form, using both the traditional metre and new experimental rhythms.
Davenport-Hines really gets behind the wrinkled exterior of Auden and taps into the psychology of the man, incorporating lots of illustrations in this well-written and fascinating biography!


The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
by D.H. Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete Poems of D H Lawrence - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Nov 2013
Although he is best remembered for his novels, D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) also produced some very expressive poetry. His early verse was written in mainly ballad form with simple rhyming scheme incorporating subjects Lawrence held close to him from his adolescence in Nottinghamshire. To be honest, I found some of his poems quite poor but perseverance pays off when one comes across a little gem! He wrote free-verse poems, many of which utilize animals and birds along with images of flowers which evoke a spiritual depth between nature and humanity.
His poem collections include: `Love Poems' (1913), `Amores' (1916), `Look! We have come through!' (1917), `New Poems' (1918), `Birds, Beasts and Flowers' (1923), `Pansies' (1929), `Nettles' (1930) and `Last Poems' (1932). The complete poems were published in three volumes in 1957 and I would say only Lawrence aficionados or genuine poetry lovers who can be a little forgiving will enjoy this book.


Collected Poems
Collected Poems
by S Smith
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Stevie Smith Collected Poems - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Nov 2013
This review is from: Collected Poems (Paperback)
The poet and novelist Stevie Smith (1902-1971) seemed to spin her poems from material she found in her everyday surroundings, giving a voice to the concerns of ordinary people in her own distinctive way. She drew upon autobiographical details and wove them into her first collection which appeared in 1937 titled `A good time was had by all'. Several other collections followed but her best known work is `Not waving but drowning' (1957). There was a strange quality to Smith, as if she were a time-piece, suddenly stopped yet still chiming with those delightful poems which thrill with a child-like curiosity about life and love. The collected poems were published in 1975 and I loved the sentiments in her work with those marvellous idiosyncratic sketches of hers. Truly amazing!


Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life
Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life
by Robert Bernard Martin
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars G M Hopkins: A Very Private Life - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 22 Aug 2013
To many of today's readers discovering the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) they can be forgiven for thinking he was more than just a little strange, especially in his often hard to understand poetry, but quite simply he was an extraordinary poet and an exceptionally sensitive man. This comes across in this beautiful biography by Robert Bernard Martin, first published in 1991 and we see a picture forming of the elusive poet. Hopkins was educated at Balliol College, Oxford where he wrote much of his early poetry (many of which he subsequently burnt in 1868 as a symbol of his devotion to become a Jesuit). Influenced by John Henry Newman (1801-1890) he was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1866 and studied theology at St Bueno's, North Wales several years later. After hearing of the loss of five Franciscan nuns onboard the Deutschland in December 1875, he was inspired to write his poem `The Wreck of the Deutschland' in 1876 and went on the following year to compose his best known poems `The Windhover' and `Pied Beauty'. He was ordained in 1877 and in 1884 appointed Chair of Greek and Latin at University College, Dublin. It was while he was at Dublin that he became ill and suffered a deep depression, a depression which probably took him mentally to thoughts of suicide, and it was while he was in this state of mind that he wrote his dark or `terrible' sonnets. Most of the sonnets were composed in 1885 in utter frustration, such as `Carrion comfort', `No worst, there is none', `To seem the stranger', `I wake and feel', `My own heart', and `Patience, hard thing'. He died of typhoid only four years later in 1889.
Hopkins developed his own technique for writing which he termed `sprung rhythm', a manner in which speech is replicated based on stress. He also used what he called `inscape' (the spiritual essence) and `instress' (the energy which prolongs inscape) together with alliteration and assonance. Hopkins the poet was unknown during his life-time excepting a small circle of friends, and it was one such friend named Robert bridges who posthumously published his `Poems' in 1918 and steadily initiated interest in the poems of G. M. Hopkins.
We can draw parallels between Hopkins and that other reticent poet A. E. Housman (1859-1936) for they both had an immense and overpowering sense of despair for an unrequited love; they were both extremely sensitive and intent to bury themselves in their work, for Housman it was ancient language and textual criticism, and for Hopkins it was the religious life. Towards the end, spending much of his time in solitude, a lonely figure, he wished only to leave little imprint upon the world, destroying letters, yet in poetic literature he was writing some of the most original and emotional verse at a time when the `cultured reading population' were busy at the trough lapping-up the derivative sentimental drivel that was handed to them! An excellent biography highly recommended!


A Room of One's Own
A Room of One's Own
by Virginia Woolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Room of One's Own - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 16 Aug 2013
This review is from: A Room of One's Own (Paperback)
Woolf published this feminist essay in 1929 and it is based on two lectures she gave, `Women and Fiction'. The essay looks at the way in which women have been neglected throughout history when it comes to education, social standing and financial independence. For women to achieve their creative ambitions of becoming great writers they must first have equal rights and independence along with the necessary privacy (something most women only dreamed of) of a `room of one's own'. Woolf examines the works and circumstances of such writers as the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen in her argument that great art should be judged by its own merit and not on the sex of the artist. She really understands the struggle for women writers and she became an early protagonist in feminist and literary changes. Excellent!


Genet: A Biography
Genet: A Biography
by Edmund White
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genet - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 16 Aug 2013
This review is from: Genet: A Biography (Hardcover)
Published in 1993, `Genet' is a compelling biography of the French novelist, playwright, poet, art critic and political activist Jean Genet (1910-1986). White is on familiar ground as he dissects the bloated corpse of Genet in this superb life of the man, who after his early upbringing by foster parents, turned to crime which led the young Jean to prison and to the beginning of his writing career. His novels: `Notre Dame des Fleurs' (Our Lady of the Flowers), `Miracle de la Rose' (The Miracle of the Rose), `Pompes Funebres' (Funeral Rites) and `Querell de Brest' (Querelle of Brest) were written between 1942-1947, after which Genet, who suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies, is silent for seven years. He then composes his three great plays: `Le Balcon' (The Balcony), `Les Negres' (The Blacks) and `Les Paravents' (The Screens) all within two years. His other great work is his autobiographical `Journal du Voleur' (A Thief's Journal) 1949.
Genet, who wrote with great openness about his sexuality, seemed to walk a fine line between saint and sinner and transcended the horizon of filth he encountered around him to create a thing of beauty and love, like a modern day Rimbaud. Edmund White's devotion to his subject does not go un-noticed and it is only fitting that he should have the last word: `Genet himself aspired towards a sort of secular beatitude. He denied materialism, the machinery of career, the obligations of sustained friendship, even the vanity of artistic achievement, in order to render his life exemplary'. Damned good!


The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth
The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth
by Robert Graves
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The White Goddess - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 16 Aug 2013
The White Goddess was first published in 1948 and it examines the theory that all true poets receive their poetic inspiration from the Muse, a Goddess of the Moon, the feminine principle which was prevalent in primitive cultures of Western Europe and Britain, particularly Wales and Ireland. This pagan worship of the Goddess became overlooked in the modern, logical age. Robert Graves (1895-1985) who would have been familiar with Sir James Frazer's `The Golden Bough', strengthens his case through an in-depth investigation of folklore, mythology, religion and magic, looking at the origins of the mythic tales of antiquity in such chapters as: `The Battle of the Trees', `Dog, Roebuck and Lapwing', `The white Goddess', `Gwion's Riddle', `Hercules on the Lotus', `The Tree Alphabet', `The Seven Pillars', `The Bull-Footed God', `The Number of the Beast', `The Waters of Styx', `The Triple Muse', `War in Heaven' etc. Although originally The White Goddess was not taken seriously by critics, Graves being a poet and not a scholar, it has become an influential source to writers and a fascinating journey through mythology, as only Graves knows how! Inspiring!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-18