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Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... Brooke-Rose, Brigid Brophy, Anthony Burgess, Alan Burns, Angela Carter, Eva Figes, Giles Gordon, Wilson Harris, Rayner Heppenstall, even hasty, muddled Robert Nye, Ann Quin, Penelope Shuttle, Alan Sillitoe (for his last book only. Raw Material indeed), Stefan Themerson, and (coming) John Wheway (stand by): and if only Heathcote Williams would write a ...
... was the greatest English novelist of his generation. Certainly Graham Greene, Henry Green and Angus Wilson thought so, although they and not he won the worldly honours Waugh would dearly have loved. On the other hand, that redoubtable holder of the Order of Merit, J.B. Priestley, did not think so. But then whom would he have ...

Faulting the Lemon

James Wood: Iris Murdoch, 1 January 1998

Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 546 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7011 6629 0
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... they most obviously lack in practice. They people their artistic gaps with desiderata. Thus Angus Wilson possessed a serious liberal politics, and an ethical respect for the individual, which illuminates his criticism of the novel; but he never created a single character of free and serious depth (he got closest in Late Call). A.S. Byatt has ...


Patrick Mauriès: Halfway between France and Britain, 3 November 1983

... to read them. One must acknowledge, however, that Richard Cobb is not Frank Kermode, nor Angus Wilson D.P. Walker. I had come knowing what Britain’s preconceived ideas were: her pragmatism and refusal of abstraction, her solitary traditions and diehard taste for erudition and travail honnête, however ungratifying; knowing, too, that my stock ...


E.S. Turner, 25 June 1987

The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... with jewellery. In Madras a beggar girl outside the hotel mimicked the reproving voice of Sir Angus Wilson, a newly departed guest. In Ootacamund (‘Ooty’), where Macaulay began to write his ‘Lays of Ancient Rome’, an old hand began to spill the sort of not-so-plain tales from the hills which would have delighted Evelyn Waugh: there had been a ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... of bizarre research himself. There is an embarrassingly well-written account, rather like an early Angus Wilson story, of a terrible Christmas package holiday in a Bournemouth hotel. As ‘Raban’ and a very temporary ‘Mrs Raban’ consort and occasionally cavort with their culturally ‘dispossessed’ fellow guests one feels much as they must have ...


Frank Kermode, 5 September 1985

Family and Friends 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 187 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 224 02337 3
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... a crazy actress mother and a useless father, a car salesman manqué – all rather like early Angus Wilson. It is a family call that aborts her affair with a handsome Sorbonne professor, dragging her back to London; her other men are a do-gooder, and an unsuitable husband whose early death leaves her to look after her decrepit father. Ruth has the ...


Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... poem by Kingsley Amis, Four Quartets, Brideshead Revisited, Nineteen Eighty-Four, William Cooper, Angus Wilson, Horizon, architectural Modernism and the Festival of Britain. Just as you think something important is going to be left out it turns up: the bourgeois intellectual love-affair with France, the nascent aspirations towards internationalism in ...

Just off Lexham Gardens

John Bayley, 9 January 1992

Through a Glass Darkly: The life of Patrick Hamilton 
by Nigel Jones.
Scribner, 408 pp., £18.95, December 1991, 0 356 19701 8
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... time he was a genuine odd man out, rather in the sense in which his admirers, Anthony Powell and Angus Wilson, were to be in theirs. At this distance we can see how dependent on a faith most of the ‘black’ novels of the Thirties – whether by comedians like Waugh or gloom merchants like Greene and Mauriac – really were. Both frivolity and despair ...

Lager and Pernod

Frank Kermode: Alan Warner, 22 August 2002

The Man Who Walks 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 280 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 224 06294 8
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... and its derivatives were timidly admitted into English fiction after the Lady Chatterley trial. Angus Wilson and Iris Murdoch are said to have steeled themselves and forced the f-words into their prose. At first they fairly leaped off the page, but forty-odd years later they have settled in and may occur in almost any work of fiction. In an essay on ...

Charging Downhill

Frank Kermode: Michael Holroyd, 28 October 1999

Basil Street Blues: A Family Story 
by Michael Holroyd.
Little, Brown, 306 pp., £17.50, September 1999, 0 316 64815 9
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... that of the author. Their disastrous activities, though never criminal, remind one a little of an Angus Wilson family, upper middle-class but going down with all their eccentricities ablaze. The decline in their wealth is quite minutely indicated by Holroyd, who is always careful, when noting their diminishing fortunes, to give us equivalents in modern ...


Frank Kermode: The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis., 10 May 2001

The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 506 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 224 05059 1
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... writing’. No one, except Amis’s heroes Nabokov and Bellow, is exempt from censure. Angus Wilson, who gets a bit of a drubbing, was capable of writing ‘the admirable Admiral Croft’ and ‘a revolting revolutionary act’. V.S. Pritchett, for whom Amis has a well-considered and affectionate admiration (expressed with less qualification ...
The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen 
introduced by Angus Wilson.
Cape, 782 pp., £8.50, February 1981, 0 224 01838 8
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Elizabeth Bowen: An Estimation 
by Hermione Lee.
Vision, 225 pp., £12.95, July 1981, 9780854783441
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... of her day intimately – by all accounts she was very much a woman of the world, for which see Angus Wilson at his most percipient, in his Preface to her Collected Stories, about her worldy elegance and her clear-eyed attitude to all the aberrations of love – but she no more composed her novels for the interest of their social milieu ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... attitudes about elite culture, make the top-down instruction provided with such grumpy relish by Wilson problematic. But the chief reason is that the academy won: it was not writers who changed literary criticism, but academic criticism that changed literary criticism. It made it, precisely, more academic. Theory, metalled with its own unforgiving ...

Ideas of Decline

Sheldon Rothblatt, 6 August 1981

English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980 
by Martin Wiener.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £9.95, April 1981, 0 521 23418 2
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Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialisation of Europe, 1760-1970 
by Sidney Pollard.
Oxford, 451 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 19 877093 6
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... to end in a cathedral town among public school men’. This is preceded by a quotation from Angus Wilson on Drood which does not really help the discussion, for the point surely is not that the cathedral town and public school are being opposed to urban and industrial England, but that anomalies and mysteries exist in supposedly benign ...

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