Arts and Entertainment The loss of happiness: Giacomo Leopardi

This extraordinary 'mish-mash' opens up the creative workshop of Italy's great Romantic poet

Dear Nigel Lawson

The former Chancellor is a man transformed. So much so that his friends might walk past him in the street

Obituary: Professor Raymond Wilson

Raymond Wilson, writer, educationalist: born 20 December 1925; English master, Dulwich College 1957-61, Chief English Master 1961-65; Lecturer in English Education, Southampton University 1965-68; Professor of Education, Reading University 1968-89 (Emeritus), Chairman of the School of Education 1969-76, 1980-89; married Gertrude Russell (two sons, one daughter); died Reading 21 March 1995.

LETTER : Putting MacNeice back in the picture

YOUR contemporary-poets-do-Iceland article "Footsteps in lava and ice", Review (19 February) could not have been more timely in the light of publication of Jon Stallworthy's biography of the Irish poet, Louis MacNeice. However, the caption for the photograph of the original poet-adventurers, MacNeice and WH Auden, failed to recognise one of the guides as being the Irish poet in question and bolsters the myth of MacNeice as Auden's pack-boy!

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: My 'far from disagreeble verse' - rejected]

I AM hurt. Just a little hurt. No: a lot. I am a lot hurt. I am hurt a lot. A lot I am hurt. Take a grip, Wallace. Deep breath. And again. There we are. All better. Now begin at the beginning, go on until you get to the end, and then stop. Ready, steady - I am, I must admit, just a little perturbed by a recent event in the world of publishing. I refer, I regret to say, to Mr John Gross's new edition of The Oxford Book of Comic Verse, and the notable omissions within it. But let me begin at the beginning.

OPERA / Finding work for idle hands to do: Bayan Northcott sketches the complex background to Stravinsky's opera, The Rake's Progress

Fate or luck? According to Stravinsky himself, it was during a chance visit to a Hogarth exhibition in Chicago on 2 May 1947 that he suddenly envisaged the eight engravings comprising The Rake's Progress as a series of operatic scenes: 'I was, however, readily susceptible to such a suggestion, for I had wanted to compose an opera in English ever since my arrival in the United States.'

To me, it will always be August underneath your arms

I ONCE went to a lecture by WH Auden at Oxford University, on the grounds that if I didn't go to see him now, I would never see him at all.

Letter: Protesters who saw the wood and the trees

Sir: The bulldozing of the great horse chestnut on George Green ('Treehouse falls to M11 bulldozer', 8 December) put me in mind of a passage by W. H. Auden:

BOOK REVIEW / In your own write: The language of autobiography by John Sturrock, CUP pounds 35

In conversation with Gore Vidal, a younger writer announced that, after half a dozen novels, she was embarking on her memoirs. 'At last you'll be writing some fiction,' said Vidal with a mandarin sniff.

Letter: Age-old complaint

Sir: Thomas Sutcliffe ('Sixties sister calls the grey army to battle', 13 October) notes that Germaine Greer 'is a bit late arriving on the field of combat'. How many decades is it since W. H. Auden diagnosed the complaint?

Obituary: Canon E. L. Mascall

WHEN I went up to Christ Church, Oxford, my rooms in Tom Quad were near those occupied by Eric Mascall, as Chaplain, writes Sasha Hoghton (further to the obituary by Professor John Macquarrie, 17 February). He was one of three great eccentrics who lived in Tom: the others were 'D' Dundas, one's 'moral tutor', and Canon Claude Jenkins, who wore a square-cut frock coat and shovel hat and did indeed smoke beech leaves from the Malvern hills (not the Meadow), mixed with old cigar butts from the SCR. Of the three, Eric Mascall had the sharpest intellect, but was so painfully shy that most undergraduates gave up all efforts to communicate after the initial embarrassing glass of warm sherry.

Canned gossip from the inn

OVERHEARD in the course of an evening in the pub . . .
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