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I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... and expect you to do the cooking yourself’. Towards the end of his life, his attacks on Henry James, Katherine Mansfield – a ‘neurotic, sick woman’ – and even Chekhov, whom he’d once admired, were frequent and hysterical. For good measure, he began to make disobliging remarks about mass-educated white-collar workers. ‘They have no ...
Criticism in the University 
edited by Gerald Graff and Reginald Gibbons.
Northwestern, 234 pp., £29.95, September 1985, 0 8101 0670 1
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... system devised for the analysis of Russian folk-tales can be adapted to the later novels of Henry James. The microscopic machinery of phonemic analysis can be blown up to the macroscopic scale and used to examine the structure of narrative. And endless fascinating variations can be discovered in practically anything by applying what the French (but nobody ...

Downland Maniacs

Michael Mason, 5 October 1995

The Village that Died for England 
by Patrick Wright.
Cape, 420 pp., £17.99, March 1995, 0 224 03886 9
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... Surrounding them are figures more tenuously linked to Purbeck: Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, James Meade Falkner (who wrote Moonfleet), Gerald Brenan, John Stewart Collis, Fritz Schumacher, John Eliot Gardiner (son of Rolf) and via him Roger Norrington, Lord Hinchinbrooke, Jimmy Edwards, Kenneth Allsop, Tariq ...

A Perfect Eel

Elaine Showalter: ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’, 21 June 2012

Lady Audley’s Secret 
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, edited by Lyn Pykett.
Oxford, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2012, 978 0 19 957703 3
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... the end of her long career, Braddon had earned a grudging respect from her contemporaries. Henry James acknowledged that her novels were ‘brilliant, lively, ingenious and destitute of a ray of sentiment’. In a letter of 1911 he told her that ‘I used to follow you ardently.’ But after her death Braddon’s reputation declined, along with the ...

A good God is hard to find

James Francken: Jenny Diski, 4 January 2001

Only Human: A Divine Comedy 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 215 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 1 86049 839 6
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... they danced in the streets on a magical VE night, bright anti-aircraft searchlights overhead. Gerald’s boozy proposition – ‘What about a baby then, old girl?’ – fitted in with the evening’s high jinks: ‘they had to round off their victory night celebrations somehow.’ But they don’t have a fairytale marriage – Ivy and ...


David Trotter, 14 September 1989

The Rainbow 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 672 pp., £55, March 1989, 0 521 22869 7
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D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World 
edited by Peter Preston and Peter Hoare.
Macmillan, 221 pp., £29.50, May 1989, 0 333 45269 0
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D.H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreading 
by Peter Balbert.
Macmillan, 190 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 333 43964 3
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... religious experience which drew him to the ‘non-human’ and which led, in Women in Love, to Gerald Crich’s hunger for ‘snow-abstract annihilation’ and Rupert Birkin’s disappointment with the ‘merely human’. But we must also acknowledge that he had always been fascinated by the ‘non-human’ or the ‘physic’ in men and women. The letter ...

A Winter Mind

John Burnside, 25 April 2013

... The Magnificent Ambersons; my perfect exit from this world – at 19 one plans such things – was Gerald’s long walk into the Alpine blizzard towards the close of Women in Love (I had toyed with Captain Oates’s departure from Scott’s doomed Antarctic expedition, but Gerald’s taciturn self-erasure seemed more ...
The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James Goldsmith: The Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... in the fact that the magazine which published some of the leading graphic satirists of the age (Gerald Scarfe’s senilely brooding Churchill must be one of the finest covers of the last twenty years) has always been laid out in so amateurish and Cow-gum a fashion that it makes Isis look like Harper’s Queen. Yet the funny side of Private Eye is not that ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... She thought my father would be pleased if he knew and so would both my uncles.’ In the 1180s, Gerald of Wales described the energetic same-sex marriage practised by the Irish: First they exchange covenants of co-fatherhood (compaternitas, also ‘comradeship’). Then they take it in turns to carry each other around the church three times. Next, they go ...

Bogey’s Clean Sweep

Michael Holroyd, 22 May 1980

The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... But the plucking out of harsh views on friends and fellow writers (as with Leonard Woolf’s and James Strachey’s edition of Virginia Woolf’s correspondence with Lytton Strachey) was inevitable. The truth is that Murry added nothing to Katherine’s writing that was not already there, that he made her popular, and that he kept her work continually in ...

Cross Words

Neal Ascherson, 17 November 1983

The Story of the ‘Times’ 
by Oliver Woods and James Bishop.
Joseph, 392 pp., £14.95, October 1983, 0 7181 1462 0
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Good Times, Bad Times 
by Harold Evans.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £11.95, October 1983, 0 297 78295 9
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... in the book to have consistently informed on him to his rivals, the eccentric and disastrous Gerald Long, and above all his successor Charles Douglas-Home, who is presented by Harry Evans as a schemer, double-dealer and back-stabber worthy of – well, not of Shakespeare or Renaissance Italy, where disloyalty had some sinister splendour, but perhaps of ...

Paul and Penny

Julian Symons, 25 October 1990

Paul Scott: A Life 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hutchinson, 429 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 09 173984 5
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Paul Scott’s Raj 
by Robin Moore.
Heinemann, 246 pp., £18.50, October 1990, 0 434 47588 2
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... a tongueless girl was ‘a fantasy, a paradigm ... of what Paul thought a woman should be’. And James Leasor, who was with him in India during the war, immediately identified Scott with the sadistic police officer Ronald Merrick when he saw The Jewel in the Crown on TV. With all its virtues of sympathy and sensibility, this biography is much too long. A ...

Lunchtime No News

Paul Foot, 27 June 1991

Kill the messenger 
by Bernard Ingham.
HarperCollins, 408 pp., £17.50, May 1991, 0 00 215944 9
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... hatred for ‘the lowest form of newspaper life – the investigative journalist’. Just as Sir James Goldsmith – that great enemy of the ‘see-through’ society – started a news magazine which was reluctant to publish news, so Sir Bernard Ingham was an information officer who loathed any journalist who sought out ...


Tam Dalyell: Questions for Mrs Thatcher, 23 July 1987

... invoking of economists from Keynes to the present day. Rather we should invoke the memory of Sir Gerald Nabarro, who used ribaldry, anomalies and anachronisms to make people laugh – and once a measure has become the subject of laughter its days are numbered; How many canvassers will be required to keep the poll-tax register up to date? Answer: 70 in ...

Impressions of Nietzsche

Keith Kyle, 27 July 1989

The Lives of Enoch Powell 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 518 pp., £16, April 1989, 0 370 30871 9
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... The argument that immigration is not a matter of race but of numbers can now be heard from Gerald Kaufman, among others, in connection with the citizenship rights of Chinese from Hong Kong. But by choosing this particular way in which to raise the issue, Powell diminished the area of rational discussion. The special intensity of the race issue once he ...

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