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The Virgin

David Plante, 3 April 1986

... Elizabeth was in bed. The dog had its front paws between her breasts, and, its tongue out, it stared at her as she spoke to it. Charles, the husband, undressed and hung his clothes askew on the silent butler. When he took off his underpants, he held them in his hands a moment, expecting his wife to look towards him naked. She didn’t. About to throw his underpants on the floor, where his socks were, he noted, on the inside of the crotch, a yellow stain ...

Hagiography

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 3 March 1983

Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 173 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 575 03189 1
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... One evening in December 1975 David Plante called on his friend, the novelist Jean Rhys, who was staying in a hotel in South Kensington: ‘a big dreary hotel’, she said, ‘filled with old people whom they won’t allow to drink sweet vermouth’. She was sitting in what the receptionist called ‘the pink lounge’, wearing a pink hat ...

The Pouncer

Julian Barnes, 3 March 1983

The Mystery of Georges Simenon 
by Fenton Bresler.
Heinemann, 259 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 434 98033 1
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... I’ve been having these bad dreams about David Plante recently. Sometimes, I am slumped on the lavatory, glued there by gin and self-pity; sometimes, I am watching The Sound of Music on television and bawling shameful tears; sometimes, I am driving bad-temperedly through the Tuscan countryside, railing foolishly at the world’s treatment of me ...

Kitty still pines for his dearest Dub

Andrew O’Hagan: Gossip, 6 February 2014

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... can be tolerated, and might even be enjoyed, as piano-players in the funhouse of letters. Early in David Plante’s diaries, we find him tinkling away, dropping names in basso profundo, as if knowing people and knowing what they do in private can be the thing that makes one special. He is 28 years old when he comes to London from the US (a little younger ...

Don’t think about it

Jenny Diski: The Trouble with Sonia Orwell, 25 April 2002

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £9.99, May 2002, 0 241 14165 6
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... got properly started before it begins to show signs of not going on for ever. So when I read in David Plante’s Difficult Women (1979) that Sonia Orwell in her final years complained to him, ‘I’ve fucked up my life. I’m angry because I’ve fucked up my life,’ it doesn’t seem to me necessarily to imply a particularly tragic or wasted ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... he arrives, and he learns to his horror that his mother died in the workhouse. The narrator in David Plante’s The Foreigner is a peeping Tom – twice in the book he experiences orgasm while watching or listening to other people making love – and he tells his story in a detached, remote style which at moments has echoes of Bainbridge’s ...

Point of Principle

Michael Irwin, 2 April 1981

The Country 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 159 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 575 02938 2
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The Radiant Future 
by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Gordon Clough.
Bodley Head, 287 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 370 30219 2
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Farewell to Europe 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 0 297 77870 6
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... The story can fairly be summarised since its meaning and power are vested in the telling. It is David Plante’s manner that will attract or alienate readers. The Country exemplifies a mode of contemporary writing almost sufficiently distinct to constitute a genre. The defining characteristic of a novel of this kind is that it seems to consist ...

Dying Falls

John Lanchester, 23 July 1987

Temporary Shelter 
by Mary Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 231 pp., £11.95, July 1987, 0 7475 0006 1
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Bluebeard’s Egg 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 287 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 224 02245 8
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The Native 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 122 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3247 7
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The March of the Long Shadows 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 232 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 24620 1
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... similar imaginings of nuclear war, and we learn in an aside that the central male character of David Plante’s new novel works on a science project related to Star Wars. A lot of writing in the last few years – The Burning Book, The Golden Gate, Or shall we die, Einstein‘s Monsters – shares in a helpless obsession with the nuclear ...

Diary

Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... keep at it. Some, notably Rosalind Belben, have even joined them. But most, like Robert Nye and David Plante, have expanded their canvases. The Johnsonian experimental novel has been more or less buried, just as the Little England novel has been more or less buried, beneath the linguistic intrusion of the Empire striking back. As a literary agent, I ...

Narcissism and its Discontents

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 February 1980

Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Jean Rhys.
Deutsch, 173 pp., £4.95, November 1980, 0 233 97213 7
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Jean Rhys: A Critical Study 
by Thomas Staley.
Macmillan, 140 pp., £10, November 1980, 0 333 24522 9
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My Blue Notebooks 
by Liane de Pougy, translated by Diana Athill.
Deutsch, 288 pp., £7.50, October 1980, 0 233 97141 6
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The Maimie Papers 
edited by Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson.
Virago, 450 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 86068 114 9
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Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Hugo Vickers.
Weidenfeld, 299 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 297 77652 5
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... covers the years from 1907 to 1920 or 1921, had been taken down from dictation by the novelist David Plante and was still substantially unrevised. A third section consists of fragments from a diary of the 1940s. The second part is dull by comparison with the first, though the events are interesting enough: a brief period at the Perse School in ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... the BBC when Alan Yentob insisted that an aristocratic ex-Battle of Britain pilot be played by David Jason; ITV loved it, but made similar demands. Eventually, back at the BBC, the play got its perfect casting – Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Joanna Lumley – and was ‘bought’ in 1998 by the then BBC2 controller Mark Thompson for broadcast at ...

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