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Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... Yorkshire. Ring Mr Redhead, the coal-merchant at Ingleton.‘Hello, Mr Redhead, this is Alan Bennett. I’m wanting some coal.’‘Goodness me! I am consorting with higher beings!’Last time I rang Mr Redhead he said: ‘Well, I don’t care how celebrated you are, you’ll never be a patch on your dad.’ I remind him of this.‘That’s correct and I ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder, 18 November 1993

The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... are its boundaries? Look up the checklist and you will find a large number of genre writers, from Brian Aldiss to P.G. Wodehouse, whose names are virtually absent from the main narrative. Bradbury’s book is based on an entirely conventional notion of the fictional mainstream. One can imagine a very different history of fiction in our century. The notion of ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... of the original cast members) and the other three-quarters of the Beyond the Fringe team (Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore), who would go on to present their own take on the nuclear threat, in a sketch called ‘Civil War’.In that sketch, a worried Moore listens trustingly as a succession of posh-voiced government spokesmen seek to reassure ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... confident that it would be rejected there: ‘It’s wrong to affront the Provost of King’s, Mrs Bennett’ – wife of his enemy at Emmanuel – ‘and Mr Hough.’ These were people he had a variety of reasons for not liking. But he also had reasons at least as strong for disliking the editors of the Times Literary Supplement (successively Alan ...

Why Literary Criticism is like Virtue

Stanley Fish, 10 June 1993

... as surely as any product secretes in its form and materials the fashion of its making’. Tony Bennett draws the moral (without endorsing it): ‘Rescued from the status of a contingent context or backdrop, what was defined as outside literature has been imported to the very centre of its inside; what seemed circumstantial has been redefined as ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... not only each other but many others, three of whom were charged: Paul Colman, John McGuinness and Brian Anderson. These three did not make any incriminating statements and were released before the trial because of lack of evidence, but the detectives’ barristers in Court Eight could just as easily have been talking about the ‘so-called innocent Guildford ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... valued friend’, ‘it amused me to hear Peter laughing at Evelyn’s “provincial little Arnold Bennett arriviste appearance”.’ If Chelsea (and Oxford) might be at odds with Bloomsbury (and Cambridge) for territorial competitive reasons, the two were at one when it came to making bad blood. ‘Never tell lies,’ the young Connolly had adjured ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... reads it anyway. But one surprises within oneself the church-going urge to be more serious. Alan Bennett’s piece on W.H. Auden, which seemed so good when it appeared in the paper, seems better still reprinted. For this, the justly famous Bennett can have got no royalties, no curtain calls, no green-rooms cries of ...

Mirror Images

Christopher Andrew, 3 April 1986

World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 297 78745 4
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... the director-general of MI5, David Murphy, the CIA chief of Soviet Bloc Intelligence, and James Bennett, head of Canadian counter-espionage, were all denounced as likely Soviet agents by conspiracy theorists within their own services. In his recently published memoirs,* President Carter’s DCI, Stansfield Turner, records that ‘British intelligence ...

Who is Stewart Home?

Iain Sinclair, 23 June 1994

... or mooching through a Municipal Gallery (in the expectation of being eavesdropped by Alan Bennett?). The women bring in the wages by running the claims desk down at the alternate SS (Social Security).This is a tribe of scapegoats by appointment to the culture at large, boastful losers. They are decadents, style-warriors, spending more time under the ...

Cheerfully Chopping up the World

Michael Wood: Film theory, 2 July 1998

The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium 
by Gilberto Perez.
Johns Hopkins, 466 pp., £25, April 1998, 0 8018 5673 6
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On the History of Film Style 
by David Bordwell.
Harvard, 322 pp., £39.95, February 1998, 0 674 63428 4
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Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine 
by D.N. Rodowick.
Duke, 260 pp., £46.95, October 1997, 0 8223 1962 4
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The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema 
by Jean Mitry, translated by Christopher King.
Athlone, 405 pp., £45, February 1998, 0 485 30084 2
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Signs and Meaning in the Cinema 
by Peter Wollen.
BFI, 188 pp., £40, May 1998, 0 85170 646 0
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... before the title of the film flashes across the screen, the vocalist makes his entry. It’s Tony Bennett singing ‘From Rags to Riches’. The film is Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990). All kinds of things are going on here, artful, intelligent, violent and ironic. The broadest effect is that of the song, with its implication of a sarcasm as old as ...

A Whale of a Time

Colm Tóibín, 2 October 1997

Roger Casement’s Diaries. 1910: The Black and the White 
edited by Roger Sawyer.
Pimlico, 288 pp., £10, October 1997, 9780712673754
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The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement 
edited by Angus Mitchell.
Anaconda, 534 pp., £40, October 1997, 9781901990010
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... in fact, forged since a good forger would have known the correct balance between sex and context. Brian Inglis, in his 1973 biography of Casement, did not believe the diaries were forged. ‘The case against the forgery theory remains unshaken,’ he wrote. No person or persons, in their right mind, would have gone to so much trouble and expense to damn a ...


Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... That may ultimately be what differentiates him from more than capable contemporaries like Tony Bennett and Mel Tormé: with Sinatra there’s less obvious technique on show and more personality. Except, what is most characteristic about that personality is how unshowy it is: how it often feels deeply submerged, and hard to touch. He can sound on the edge ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... of twenty volumes of her diaries, which he dared not read. His close friend in Cambridge, E.K. Bennett, advised him to destroy them because reading them would make him too sad, but when three months later he set about tearing them up he clearly looked at a good deal of them, noting in them ‘affection for me, but no realisation that I was someone, and ...

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