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Hats One Dreamed about

Tessa Hadley: Rereading Bowen, 20 February 2020

Collected Stories 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Everyman, 904 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 84159 392 0
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... by Cape in 1980, and then by Penguin and Vintage, except with a new, enthusiastic introduction by John Banville and a useful short bibliography. Bowen is one of those rare writers who is equally good at novels and short stories; in fact, because her novels are short, densely written, formally deliberate, it’s not easy to particularise any difference ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore, 10 August 2000

Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... about middle-aged women suffering. They were Moore’s The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955), John McGahern’s The Barracks (1961) and Aidan Higgins’s Langrishe, Go Down (1966). It is no coincidence, either, that the best novels about men in the period after independence dealt with figures in extreme and exquisite isolation, as in the novels of Beckett ...

Life of Brian

Kevin Barry, 25 January 1990

No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien 
by Anthony Cronin.
Grafton, 260 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 246 12836 4
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... Selby and McCruiskeen: fantastic, jaunty and terrifying. And yet O’Nolan is not without issue. John Banville’s most recent novel, The Book of Evidence, catches unmistakably the voice and fate of the unnamed narrator of The Third Policeman. Both are murderers, laconic, fastidious, their imaginations stunned. Both find themselves in ‘a queer ...

Under the Flight Path

August Kleinzahler: Christopher Middleton, 19 May 2016

... turned up in 1974, and kept Christopher both amused and busy translating his poetry into English. John Silber, who later became a reactionary megalomaniac (first as president of Boston University and then as failed gubernatorial candidate), was at that point a brilliant and progressive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also brought in by Ransom. The ...

In the Anti-World

Nicholas Jenkins: Raymond Roussel, 6 September 2001

Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams 
by Mark Ford.
Faber, 312 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 17409 4
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... show Roussel using ‘rhyme as the crucial first stage in originating his poetry’. (Théodore de Banville, a fellow Lemerre author, had asserted in his Short Treatise on French Poetry, 1872, that rhyme is the essence of poetry: ‘rhyme is the only harmony of verses and it is the whole verse.’) The effort to achieve perfection in verse proved just as ...

Ghosting

Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... X when he ghosted his autobiography? To what extent did Ted Sorensen create the verbal manner of John F. Kennedy when he wrote Profiles in Courage, a book for which the future president won the Pulitzer Prize? And are the science fiction stories H.P. Lovecraft ghosted for Harry Houdini not the best things he ever wrote? There would be a touch of all this in ...

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