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I can’t, I can’t

Anne Diebel: Edel v. the Rest, 21 November 2013

Monopolising the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship 
by Michael Anesko.
Stanford, 280 pp., £30.50, March 2012, 978 0 8047 6932 7
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... the everyday (as well as any non-American correspondents). Other friends, including Gosse and A.C. Benson, eulogised James with tender anecdotes demonstrating their intimate access to his private life: Gosse tells of calling on James the morning after the disastrous premiere of Guy Domville and finding him, contrary to public expectation, perfectly calm. James ...


Christopher Tayler: Nicholson Baker, 3 November 2011

House of Holes 
by Nicholson Baker.
Simon and Schuster, 262 pp., £14.99, August 2011, 978 0 85720 659 6
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... close descriptions of minutiae and masturbation scenarios. His narrators read Maurice Baring, A.C. Benson, Hopkins, Swinburne and Iris Murdoch. In Room Temperature, Mike takes a copy of Mark Pattison’s Isaac Casaubon to read on a plane; in the novel’s closing sentence he picks up a copy of the TLS. And on top of being a great observer and metaphor-maker ...

Criminal Elastic

Susannah Clapp, 5 February 1987

Margaret Oliphant: A Critical Biography 
by Merryn Williams.
Macmillan, 217 pp., £27.50, October 1986, 0 333 37647 1
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Chronicles of Carlingford: The Perpetual Curate 
by Mrs Oliphant.
Virago, 540 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 0 86068 786 4
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Chronicles of Carlingford: Salem Chapel 
by Mrs Oliphant.
Virago, 461 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 86068 723 6
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Chronicles of Carlingford: The Rector 
by Mrs Oliphant.
Virago, 192 pp., £3.50, August 1986, 0 86068 728 7
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... her two sons, lively and talented in their teens, dwindled into charmless wastrels. A.C. Benson, who was at school with them, charted the decline of Cyril Oliphant from a ‘vivid and sparkling Eton-boy’ to an ‘elderly and deprecating loafer’; his younger brother was experienced by visitors as ‘a mysterious weight’. Both of them remained ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... Above all they like feeling they own you – or that you own them – a thing I hate.’ A.C. Benson, whose medal Larkin was later to receive from the Royal Society of Literature, put it more succinctly, quoting (I think) Aristophanes: ‘Don’t make your house in my mind.’ Though with Larkin it was ‘Don’t make your house in my house either,’ his ...

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