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Last Word

John Charap, 19 November 1981

The Physicists: A Generation that Changed the World 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32228 2
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... At the time of his death in July of last year, C.P. Snow was working on this book. Its theme is the two-faced gift of physics and its applications, and of those who in not much over a generation have changed our world. Although he had completed only a first draft, his publishers have done well to let us have the book, for it is Snow at his best ...

Snowdunnit

Ian Hamilton, 8 November 1979

A Coat of Varnish 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 349 pp., £5.95
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... understand, in the actual neighbourhood. Yes, you’d better read that again. Not all of C.P. Snow’s sentences are as fruitlessly demanding as this pair, but quite a few of them (certainly the longer ones) do tend to move with a similarly elephantine tread. Throughout his work there is the steady thump of the single-minded plodder, the constant sense of ...

Such Little Trousers

Lavinia Greenlaw: Pamela Hansford Johnson, 21 March 2019

This Bed Thy Centre 
by Pamela Hansford Johnson.
Hodder, 288 pp., £8.99, October 2018, 978 1 4736 7985 6
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An Impossible Marriage 
by Pamela Hansford Johnson.
Hodder, 352 pp., £8.99, October 2018, 978 1 4736 7980 1
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The Last Resort 
by Pamela Hansford Johnson.
Hodder, 352 pp., £8.99, October 2018, 978 1 4736 7994 8
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The Holiday Friend 
by Pamela Hansford Johnson.
Hodder, 272 pp., £8.99, October 2018, 978 1 4736 7987 0
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... briskly sets them aside, along with their author: Her death came almost a year after that of C.P. Snow, the novelist, playwright and scientist to whom she was married for 21 years [sic]. Lord Snow was 74 and died 1 July 1980. Although her fame was often linked with her husband’s, Pamela Hansford Johnson had an independent ...

Thirty Years Ago

Patrick Parrinder, 18 July 1985

Still Life 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 358 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7011 2667 1
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Wales’ Work 
by Robert Walshe.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 9780436561450
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... reached the half-way stage. Already its scale and substance begin to rival the sequences of C.P. Snow and Anthony Powell. Byatt’s view of the middle class centres on the Potter family: Northern, Nonconformist, and professionally preoccupied with teaching, writing, and caring for others. The poor, in this view of England, are unthinkable except as marginal ...

Understanding Science

John Maynard Smith, 3 June 1982

The Laws of the Game: How the principles of nature govern science 
by Manfred Eigen and Ruthild Winkler, translated by Robert Kimber and Rita Kimber.
Allen Lane, 347 pp., £14.95, March 1982, 9780713914849
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... to convey to the reader what it is to have a well-furnished scientific mind. Some years back, C.P. Snow persuaded us that the diagnostic characteristic of such a mind is familiarity with the second law of thermodynamics. His particular choice of a scientific law was unfortunate, because it is easier to talk nonsense about the second law than almost anything ...

The Great Percy

C.H. Sisson, 18 November 1982

Stranger and Brother: A Portrait of C.P. Snow 
by Philip Snow.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 32680 6
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... It is perhaps unkind to disturb the ashes of C. P. Snow. They have so recently been placed in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he is commemorated beside John Milton. There is occasion to take a look at them, nonetheless, for we now have this account of the man by his brother, Philip Snow ...

He wants me no more

Tessa Hadley: Pamela Hansford Johnson, 21 January 2016

Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times 
by Wendy Pollard.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 500 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 0 85683 298 7
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... they vaguely knew the name but couldn’t place it – until I said she was married to C.P. Snow and then they vaguely remembered that too. They were much clearer about him: the two cultures argument, and Leavis’s vituperation, and some novels revolving around Cambridge colleges. Someone had read one of those novels long ago but couldn’t remember ...

Heat Death

Simon Schaffer: Entropists v. Energeticists, 13 April 2000

Ludwig Boltzmann: The Man who Trusted Atoms 
by Carlo Cercignani.
Oxford, 329 pp., £29.50, September 1998, 0 19 850154 4
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... talismanic status in the public life of physics. Flanders and Swann wrote a song about it; C.P. Snow lectured on it. Whether it refers to the impossibility in a sealed system of letting heat flow from a cooler to a hotter body, or to the tendency of the universe to run down to more chaotic and disorderly states, it forms a key element in the magnificent ...

Voyeur

Paul Delany, 5 May 1983

To Keep the Ball Rolling: The Memoirs of Anthony Powell. Vol. IV: The strangers all are gone 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 208 pp., £9.50, May 1982, 0 434 59941 7
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... of his nature that are implicitly revealed. But Powell’s friends serve mainly as a source of ‘copy’: wandering through this gallery of eccentrics, it is more apparent what he saw in them than what they saw in him. He offers some shrewd comments on how a friend might be transformed, or absorbed, into a novelistic character: but he withholds the crucial ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... interested in whether Simon Raven was related to Canon Charles Raven. The character Jago in C.P. Snow’s novel sequence is said to be based on the late Canon, and I found that my ideas of Jago and the real Canon Raven were almost inextricably mixed: this made me recognise that I would find it impossible to ask James Prior about ‘Peter Morrison MP’ and ...

Rehabilitation

Donald Rayfield, 19 July 1984

Dostoevsky. Vol II: The Years of Ordeal 1850-1859 
by Joseph Frank.
Robson, 320 pp., £14.95, April 1984, 0 86051 242 8
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The Village of Stepanchikovo 
by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ignat Avsey.
Angel, 255 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 946162 06 9
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... of a standard far beneath the average Russian’s. Why should Soviet readers have C.P. Snow and Sillitoe in good Russian versions when we are so far from a definitive ...

Locke rules

Ian Hacking, 21 November 1991

Locke. Vol. I: Epistemology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06406 6
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Locke. Vol. II: Ontology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06407 4
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... of the great stabilising aspects of the English-speaking peoples, the ‘two cultures’ that C.P. Snow so deplored. Locke is honoured for his pleas for toleration in religion, but he knows the danger of dogma in all things. By all means know the Second Law of Thermodynamics (I imagine him retorting to Snow): ‘that is very ...

Mini-Whoppers

Patrick Parrinder, 7 July 1988

Forty Stories 
by Donald Barthelme.
Secker, 256 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 436 03424 7
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Tiny Lies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 224 02560 0
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Ellen Foster 
by Kaye Gibbons.
Cape, 146 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 224 02529 5
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After the War 
by Frederick Raphael.
Collins, 528 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 00 223352 5
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... five hundred pages it aspires to the status of a grand social saga à la Margaret Drabble or C.P. Snow. Michael Jordan, sensitive and Jewish, has his first introduction to English mores at a boarding-school evacuated to the coast of North Devon. After the war he grows up to become a successful TV dramatist not unlike Raphael himself. Much of the book consists ...

Sea Creatures

Peter Campbell, 23 July 1987

Sidney Nolan: Such is life 
by Brian Adams.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £16.95, June 1987, 0 09 168430 7
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Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures 
by John Wilmerding.
Viking, 208 pp., £25, September 1987, 9780670817665
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Faces 1966-1984 
by David Hockney and Marco Livingstone.
Thames and Hudson, 96 pp., £8.95, June 1987, 0 500 27464 9
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... often the occasion of new sequences of paintings. He became a popular provider of book jackets (C.P  Snow and Patrick White, for example), and of stage sets for ballet and opera. The Queen bought his pictures, and he was knighted and awarded the OM. Kenneth Clark wrote an introduction to a monograph on Nolan’s work, and Nolan went to Sweden to accept ...

The chair she sat on

J.I.M. Stewart, 19 July 1984

Secrets of a Woman’s Heart: The Later Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett 1920-1969 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hodder, 336 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 340 26241 9
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... novels. The Cambridge dons in Pastors and Masters are distinctly unlike those conjured up by C.P. Snow; and the young Lambs, Staces, Clares and Sullivans wouldn’t readily hit it off with the Swallows, Amazons and Coots. In her novels this sort of realism has been virtually scrapped in the interest of perceptions and compulsions which are at once highly ...

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