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Diary

Julian Girdham: Mansergh v. Arnold, 21 June 1984

... industry. Just try finding a book on ‘the English identity’ in Foyle’s or Black-well’s. Bruce Arnold, a political commentator for the Irish Independent, has now added his contribution to this profusion, What Kind of Country, subtitled ‘Modern Irish Politics 1968-1983’.* This book was the subject of a particularly vitriolic review in the ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín, 10 June 1993

Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... He had everything going for him until the first crisis arose and the North blew up in 1969. Bruce Arnold has been a commentator on Irish political and cultural life for the past thirty years. He writes about politics using logic and reason, which is unusual in Ireland. He is able to write about certain Irish political figures with a respect which ...

Paint Run Amuck

Frank Kermode: Jack Yeats, 12 November 1998

Jack Yeats 
by Bruce Arnold.
Yale, 418 pp., £29.95, September 1998, 0 300 07549 9
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... like his brother, to be hailed, even by the non-Irish, as great in the more absolute sense. That Bruce Arnold has a profound admiration for his subject is evident from the minute care of his research, but he avoids idolatry, and this measure of reserve lends credibility to his estimate of the painter’s stature. His text may be too long, too ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley, 11 July 2002

Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... having formed young Aldous’s personality: the premature death of his mother, Julia Huxley (née Arnold), when he was 14; his temporary blindness three years later; and – most damaging – the suicide of his older brother, Trevenen, who hanged himself when Aldous was 20. These traumas resurface, symptomatically, everywhere in his fiction. Julia’s ...

This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John Sparrow, 1 October 1998

The Warden 
by John Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... dirty postcards in a drawer’. Then I remembered the line by which the same poet skewered Matthew Arnold: ‘And thrust his gift in prison till it died’. Sparrow was a man who appeared to have had every girt handed him by the gods: unshakeable homosexuality – no pram in the hall to make war on his early promise; brutal, but stunning handsomeness; an exact ...

Made in Heaven

Frank Kermode, 10 November 1994

Frieda Lawrence 
by Rosie Jackson.
Pandora, 240 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 9780044409151
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The Married Man: A Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Brenda Maddox.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 631 pp., £20, August 1994, 1 85619 243 1
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Kangaroo 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 493 pp., £60, August 1994, 0 521 38455 9
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Twilight in Italy and Other Essays 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Paul Eggert.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £55, August 1994, 0 521 26888 5
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... they were not so different from those of his middle-class friends. You can just imagine Matthew Arnold sighing: ‘What a set!’ But now the temptation is to say, hopelessly, that they should all, gentry and peasant, be left alone for a century or two. Maddox has some pages about the Australian episode, and so, naturally, does the Cambridge editor of ...

Embracing Islam

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1991

Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 
by Salman Rushdie.
Granta, 432 pp., £17.99, March 1991, 9780140142242
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... Gramsci is rather strange here, since the writer whom Rushdie is indisputably echoing is Matthew Arnold. Although ‘Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse’, Arnold’s great poem on the ‘two worlds’ trope, seems profoundly antipathetic to Rushdie’s temper, it has some relevance to the dilemma in which the novelist ...

Costume Codes

David Trotter, 12 January 1995

Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel 
by Jane Eldridge Miller.
Virago, 241 pp., £15.99, October 1994, 1 85381 830 5
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... Bennett and Mrs Brown’, which urges the development of new narrative techniques and criticises Arnold Bennett and other Edwardian novelists for doing exactly what Hall does throughout The Unlit Lamp: deduce identity from a description of environment and appearance. Literary scholars have tended to take Woolf’s word for it. They have on the whole been as ...

The Cow Bells of Kitale

Patrick Collinson: The Selwyn Affair, 5 June 2003

... ceased to exert himself on behalf of his sister-in-law. Geoffrey’s great-grandfather was Thomas Arnold of Rugby, which meant that Matthew Arnold was a great-uncle. Geoffrey was born in the spring of 1888 at Toxteth, where his father was principal of Liverpool College. His mother, one of the daughters of Thomas ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... identity of the villain who thrust the New Statesman out of Eden is correspondingly various, with Bruce Page remaining by far the most popular whipping-boy, but with minority lobbies also fingering Richard Crossman, Anthony Howard and all the other post-Sixties editors. There is little disagreement, however, about when the glory days began. The New Statesman ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... So while the photographers (the galaxy of glamour: Snowdon, Bailey, McCullin, Duffy, Donovan, Eve Arnold, Montgomery) were attracted to the space and the design, Francis commissioned writers, some of whom had never written journalism before. There were many, including myself, who owed their careers to him and his encouragement. It seemed that he could get ...

Even if I married a whole harem of women I’d still act like a bachelor

Elaine Showalter: Isaac Bashevis Singer, 17 September 1998

Shadows on the Hudson 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Joseph Sherman.
Hamish Hamilton, 560 pp., £16.99, June 1998, 0 241 13940 6
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Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Life 
by Janice Hadda.
Oxford, 254 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 19 508420 9
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... other hand, for the first 21 years of their marriage, Alma supported them both, selling dresses at Arnold Constable, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor. She seems to have been the one who handled financial matters, while Singer hid behind the persona of humble immigrant. In his old age and after his death, she would pester friends to get better deals on royalties, or ...

Everyone’s Pal

John Sutherland: Louis de Bernières, 13 December 2001

Red Dog 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 119 pp., £10, October 2001, 0 436 25617 7
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Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World 
by Louis de Bernières.
Vintage, 119 pp., £6.99, October 2001, 9780099428442
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... both . . . Audiences embraced this new style of movie, and the genre would revive the careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and make international box-office stars out of Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis. Although it is tempting to align de Bernières with Gabriel García Márquez, whose work was also ...

Travellers

John Kerrigan, 13 October 1988

Archaic Figure 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 113 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 571 15043 8
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Tourists 
by Grevel Lindop.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 85635 697 2
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Sleeping rough 
by Charles Boyle.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1987, 0 85635 731 6
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This Other Life 
by Peter Robinson.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 85635 737 5
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In the Hot-House 
by Alan Jenkins.
Chatto, 60 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3312 0
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Monterey Cypress 
by Lachlan Mackinnon.
Chatto, 62 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3264 7
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My Darling Camel 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 64 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3286 8
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The Air Mines of Mistila 
by Philip Gross and Sylvia Kantaris.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £4.95, June 1988, 1 85224 055 5
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X/Self 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 131 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 0 19 281987 9
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The Arkansas Testament 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 117 pp., £3.95, March 1988, 9780571149094
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... Australia. At which point, they should turn to the poets. For just as the Songlines are, to use Bruce Chatwin’s image, ‘a spaghetti of Iliads and Odysseys, writhing this way and that, in which every “episode” [is] readable’, so the quick and shallow tracks of tourism retrace our oldest myths, revisiting ancient holy sites, seeking out a ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... and disappointed many of his admirers by coming out as a big Murdoch fan in his 1992 biography. Bruce Page’s recent work, The Murdoch Archipelago, is as badly written as any book I have ever read, and is full of sentences which don’t mean quite what their author seems to think they do, but it does have a body of reflection and inside experience ...

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