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Really Very Exhilarating

R.W. Johnson: Macmillan and the Guardsmen, 7 October 2004

The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World They Made 
by Simon Ball.
HarperCollins, 456 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 00 257110 2
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... he had taken the plummiest diplomatic posting conceivable, becoming an assistant to his uncle, Robert Cecil, at the Paris Peace Conference. Thereafter Cranborne pursued a career in the City. He was quite hopeless but, of course, became the director of a bank. Lyttelton, on the other hand, showed great business acumen and rose rapidly on his merits. Both ...

Women beware men

Margaret Anne Doody, 23 July 1992

Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women 
by Susan Faludi.
Chatto, 592 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 7011 4643 5
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The War against Women 
by Marilyn French.
Hamish Hamilton, 229 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 241 13271 1
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... in hard times that they agreed. These women were later to seek legal relief, and it was Judge Robert Bork as Federal appellate judge who in 1984 ‘ruled in favour of the company’. It may be that American Cyanamid had expected all its female employees would go away rather than undergo sterilisation, and the protection policy (which offered no ...

Karel Reisz Remembered

LRB Contributors, 12 December 2002

... than one generation of British film-makers, and what he did for the stage – Beckett, Pinter, Tom Murphy, Terence Rattigan – has changed the game for several more to come. You might say the drama in Karel Reisz’s life existed at quite a deep level, but it also existed in his conversation. At tables, in cars, in foyers, on the phone, Karel Reisz and his ...

Antigone in Galway

Anne Enright, 17 December 2015

... breathe not his name!’ was the song by Thomas Moore, the name being that of the patriot Robert Emmet, executed after leading the 1803 rebellion, who asked that his epitaph remain unwritten until his country had taken its place among the nations of the earth. High speech and silence, this was the patriotic way, and no silence more urgent than that of ...

Fed up with Ibiza

Jenny Turner: Sybille Bedford, 1 April 2021

Sybille Bedford: An Appetite for Life 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 432 pp., £35, November 2020, 978 1 78474 113 6
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... women, the lives and relative freedoms they made for themselves with their trust funds. Esther Murphy, for example, the entertainingly anti-travel ‘E’ who accompanied Bedford through Mexico for her first book, The Sudden View (1953; since renamed A Visit to Don Otavio) was herself acclaimed, in her own circles, as a polymath and raconteuse. The story ...

Ireland at Swim

Denis Donoghue, 21 April 1983

The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 
edited by M.P. Hederman and R. Kearney, with a preface by Seamus Heaney.
Blackwater Press/Colin Smythe, 930 pp., £25, October 1982, 9780905471136
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A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Knopf, 352 pp., $16.95, April 1983, 0 394 42225 2
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... of people who did ‘some not wholly fulfilling thing’ – Cuchulain fighting the waves, Robert Gregory taking to the air – their fulfilment to be achieved only when Yeats had emblematised them in strong verse. Seven: Dublin is a capital city in which ‘eight decades’ experience of the telephone has not yet fostered the habit of returning ...


Alan Brien, 5 December 1985

Orson Welles 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 562 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78476 5
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The Making of ‘Citizen Kane’ 
by Robert Carringer.
Murray, 180 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7195 4248 0
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Spike Milligan 
by Pauline Scudamore.
Granada, 318 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12275 7
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Nancy Mitford 
by Selina Hastings.
Hamish Hamilton, 274 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 241 11684 8
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Rebel: The Short Life of Esmond Romilly 
by Kevin Ingram.
Weidenfeld, 252 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 297 78707 1
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The Mitford Family Album 
by Sophia Murphy.
Sidgwick, 160 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 283 99115 1
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... appeared confused, irritated or bored by him, classic reactions of age to the heroes of youth. Robert Carringer’s sharp-eyed, dispassionate post-mortem on what actually happened in the making of Kane, and Barbara Leaming’s almost embarrassingly intimate monitoring of the variations in the maker’s oft-told tales during what turned out to be the last ...

Just one of those ends

Michael Wood: Apocalypse Regained, 13 December 2001

Apocalypse Now Redux 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
August 2001
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Marlon Brando 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 297 84284 6
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... for home use. ‘Some day this war is going to end,’ the gung-ho Colonel Kilgore played by Robert Duvall says in the film. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) later repeats the line, thinking how happy the young men travelling upriver with him will be when that day comes, and they can go home. ‘The trouble is,’ Willard adds, ‘I had been back ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... Another drawing was done with a nurse’s blue pencil on the flyleaf of a volume of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson.‘These drawings were presented to me by a very ill man,’ the catalogue entry read, quoting Edward Adamson, the art therapist who first encountered J.J. Beegan in 1946. By the time they met, Adamson explained, Beegan ‘had been in a ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... a cake and a Bible to Tehran to discuss an arms-for-hostages trade with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Robert MacNamara went to a briefing on Cuba believing that it was more than likely that he would not live through the weekend. The Central Intelligence Agency was caught, in collusion with the Mafia, plotting to poison Fidel Castro’s cigars. Ronald Reagan’s ...

Sex on the Roof

Patricia Lockwood, 6 December 2018

Evening in Paradise: More Stories 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8229 8
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Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 160 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8234 2
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... imitating her squint against sunlight. The writers she is most directly associated with – Robert Creeley and Ed Dorn – were of the Black Mountain School, but she seems somehow to have more to do with the Beats, perhaps because she was always on the run; perhaps because of the drug addiction of her third husband, Buddy Berlin; perhaps because you can ...

Chop, Chop, Chop

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Grief Is the Thing with Feathers’, 21 January 2016

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers 
by Max Porter.
Faber, 114 pp., £10, September 2015, 978 0 571 32376 0
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... a rough Time’: Three months ago, Mark Sennis received the news that everyone dreads: Ben Murphy, a friend and coworker with whom he ‘occasionally went out to lunch’, had been diagnosed with cancer. ‘You never think you’re going to be the one,’ Sennis said. ‘At first, I remember thinking, “How can this be happening to me? What have I ...

The dogs in the street know that

Nick Laird: A Week in Mid-Ulster, 5 May 2005

... million from the Northern Bank in Belfast on 20 December, and on 30 January the murder of Robert McCartney in Magennis’s Bar. A few months ago it had seemed that the IRA might be on the brink of disbanding. One IRA source was quoted in Ireland’s Sunday Business Post: he said that he had been visited by a member of the IRA leadership, ‘and told ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett, 29 July 1999

Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... included paintings by Ernst and poems by the American Modernist Hart Crane, the French Surrealists Robert Desnos and Philippe Soupault and the German Expressionist Georg Trakl (in translations from French and German by Eugene Jolas). A decade later, the last issue was still churning out Work in Progress, now alongside work by Hans Arp, Beckett, Breton, Kafka ...

Blowing over the top of a bottle of San Pellegrino

Adam Mars-Jones: Protest Dance Pop, 15 December 2005

Plat du Jour 
by Matthew Herbert.
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... theme of food. Herbert has made a name for himself as a producer from collaborations with Róisín Murphy and Björk, but Plat du Jour is a different kettle of fish, a personal project that has taken a couple of years to devise and record. As the opening track makes clear – it’s called ‘The Truncated Life of a Modern Industrialised Chicken’ – he is ...

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