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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’, 25 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... it works for Alice, who interprets it, at the end of the film, to mean that she should become a bold entrepreneur like her father, and sell some sort of unnamed goods to China, which apparently no one has thought of doing. You would have to believe in Wonderland, perhaps, in order to believe in China. Even Alice, though, wonders about having had the same ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... said, ‘she’d have made a disastrous queen. Didn’t go to the theatre at all.’ 19 January. Alan Bates opens tonight at the Barbican in the RSC production of Antony and Cleopatra. The version put on at Stratford opened with Antony making love to Cleopatra, his head up her skirts. Cunnilingus served cold, as it were, was quite hard for a Stratford ...

Modern Masters

Frank Kermode, 24 May 1990

Where I fell to Earth: A Life in Four Places 
by Peter Conrad.
Chatto, 252 pp., £16, February 1990, 0 7011 3490 9
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May Week was in June 
by Clive James.
Cape, 249 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 224 02787 5
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... an undergraduate as slightly odd, was an interesting man, among other things a perfectly sane and bold gardener. Graham Hough, who won his pupil’s respect while trying to supervise a non-existent graduate thesis, is bafflingly and offensively described as ‘saintly’. But James wasn’t much interested in dons except in so far as they were legitimate ...
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe 
edited by George Holmes.
Oxford, 398 pp., £17.50, March 1988, 0 19 820073 0
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A History of 12th-century Western Philosophy 
edited by Peter Dronke.
Cambridge, 495 pp., £37.50, April 1988, 0 521 25896 0
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The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c.350-c.1450 
edited by J.H. Burns.
Cambridge, 808 pp., £60, May 1988, 0 521 24324 6
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Medieval Popular Culture: Problem of Belief and Perception 
by Aron Gurevich, translated by Janos Bak and Paul Hollingsworth.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £27.50, May 1988, 0 521 30369 9
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A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World 
edited by George Duby, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 650 pp., £24.95, April 1988, 0 674 39976 5
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... politics, mass media, society at large? There is a comic if accidental illustration of this point. Alan de Lille, writes Dronke, said once that ‘because authority has a waxen nose, that can be bent in different ways, she must be fortified by reason.’ Alan, he says, was recalling a phrase of Thierry of Chartres, himself ...


Alan Bennett: Where was I in 1987?, 10 December 1987

... the men tall and handsome, the women of a ripe Biblical beauty, heavy-eyebrowed, voluptuous and bold, none of them veiled and on seeming equality with the men. As for beggars, there are now more in London than in Cairo. The most striking feature of the boat trip is an entirely rural island of lush green fields and primitive cultivation with a mud-brick ...

Nights in the Gardens of Spain

Alan Bennett, 1 October 1998

... bottom she didn’t let go. It was just like it was when I was a girl when a boy did it. Such a bold step. And so meant. And I thought, here I am strolling arm in arm with someone who murdered her husband. I said ... out loud ... ‘I know what this is.’ She said: ‘What is it?’ I said: ‘It’s life.’ She wasn’t feeling all that clever today so ...

Fairy Lights

Jenny Turner, 2 November 1995

Morvern Callar 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 224 pp., £9.99, February 1995, 0 224 04011 1
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... mixed arising from the every sight of that capital H for Him. What sort of novel do you suppose Alan Warner imagined himself first writing? A young boy’s life among the mountains he loved and which constrained him? A piece of social realism, about how hard life is for the isolated, economically marginal clumps of working-class people scattered here and ...

Why Mr Fax got it wrong

Roy Porter: Population history, 5 March 1998

English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Davies.
Cambridge, 657 pp., £60, July 1997, 0 521 59015 9
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The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 427 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 631 18117 2
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... has no such qualms about theorising about the fates of whole countries – indeed continents. Alan Macfarlane is well known for his bold theories about the forces shaping past societies, already advanced in such books as The Origins of English Individualism (1978) and Marriage and Love in England: Modes of ...


Karl Miller: Edna O’Brien, 22 November 2012

Country Girl: A Memoir 
by Edna O’Brien.
Faber, 339 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26943 3
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... and Archbishop McQuaid’s poison pen, but makes a considerable satirical success of the scene. ‘Alan C. Breeze had returned from England with a set of false teeth, which he claimed to have belonged to T.S. Eliot.’ The better to bite her with, no doubt. A married woman, she then went off to London, which owned a little Dublin of its own as far as hard ...

Pull the Other One

Ian Hacking, 26 January 1995

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life 
by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray.
Free Press, 845 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 02 914673 9
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... criticisms. Stephen Jay Gould spoke out in the New Yorker of 28 November. I especially recommend Alan Ryan’s analysis in the New York Review of Books of 17 November, followed in the 1 December issue by Charles Lane’s examination of some of the sources of statistical information in this book, sources closely connected with an Edinburgh publication, the ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... turn to the theatre pages with the excitement that I once did and although contemporaries like Alan Brien lacked Tynan’s flamboyant, showstruck, star-fucking excitement, he too was an invigorating critic to read ... Why Tynan was influential within the theatre is hard to explain.’ (Jonathan Miller, who likes explaining, is particularly interesting when ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... Manley Hopkins, who taught there. A propos Henry VII, what happened between 1485 and 1500? How did bold Harry Tudor of Bosworth Field turn into the crabbed penny-pinching accountant that is his usual representation? 24 March. A film beginning with a man being shepherded through a darkened hall; glimpses of paintings, a shaft of light on a plaster ceiling, the ...

A Common Assault

Alan Bennett: In Italy, 4 November 2004

... is, the moment passed when I would be left wretched at my own timidity.2 Living life in Orton’s bold, head-on sort of way, which I was never able to do, seemed to me to have a morality of a sort. That all other fancies and preoccupations, the ties and tugs of social life, for instance, the need to keep appointments and the overriding obligations of work ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... against the use of mobile phones is often ignored or not even acknowledged so that the occasional bold spirit will then protest and a row breaks out, and even when it doesn’t there’s often some unspoken resentment against offenders, who are often unaware. This morning our coach is quite subdued, no one uses a mobile, though the three of us talk quietly ...

Nothing’s easy

Philip Horne, 26 November 1987

The Perpetual Orgy 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14550 7
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Captain Pantoja and the Special Service 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Gregory Kolovakos and Ronald Christ.
Faber, 244 pp., £3.95, June 1987, 0 571 14818 2
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... to a temperamental requirement for ‘definitive overviews, wholes which, thanks to their bold structure, arbitrary yet convincing, give the illusion of being a total picture of reality, of summing up all of life’; and the power of such summings-up is in their bold substitution of a somehow better world for the ...

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