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There was and there was not

Jonathan Coe, 4 April 1991

To Know a Woman 
by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Chatto, 265 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3572 7
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The Smile of the Lamb 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 325 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 224 02639 9
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... Amos Oz and David Grossman are both political writers. This might seem an obvious statement, given that they are well-known for being politically vocal and have both written political (non-fiction) books consisting of interviews with their Palestinian and Israeli countrymen. But the main thing is that they also write intensely and truthfully political novels of the sort which tend to be thin on the ground in Britain ...

Uncle Kingsley

Patrick Parrinder, 22 March 1990

The folks that live on the hill 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 246 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 09 174137 8
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Kingsley Amis: An English Moralist 
by John McDermott.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 9780333449691
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In the Red Kitchen 
by Michèle Roberts.
Methuen, 148 pp., £11.99, March 1990, 9780413630209
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See Under: Love 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 458 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 224 02640 2
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... other two novelists under review are more blatant in this respect, since both Michèle Roberts and David Grossman have written novels which pivot on the sentimental privileging of authorship. ‘I want to tell you my stories. I want to record my life with you. I want to give myself a history,’ insists one of Roberts’s narrators, a contemporary writer ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones, 4 April 1985

The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... I had a theory that he was really a Welshman, an Alpine Celt such as the Nazi racial theorist Rosenberg might have dreamed of in an unguarded moment.’ Many years later, Michael’s son, ‘himself one of the reasons for the change, decided, in a burst of Jewish romanticism at the time of the Israeli victory in the Six Days War, to change his name ...

I like you

Hermione Lee: Boston Marriage, 24 May 2007

Between Women: Friendship, Desire and Marriage in Victorian England 
by Sharon Marcus.
Princeton, 356 pp., £12.95, March 2007, 978 0 691 12835 1
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... queer theorists – such as Judith Butler, Martha Vicinus, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Carroll Smith-Rosenberg – through whom she has evidently formulated her thinking, proposes a new account of women’s lives in the mid to late 19th century. The advantage of her method is that it complicates our historical view, doesn’t over-schematise the past and ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... on Eastern Europe, before Russia exploded its own atom bomb, before the Hiss, Bentley, Fuchs and Rosenberg cases sowed a suspicion that there were agents everywhere. Hoberman often writes history by compiling lists, but the lists themselves are interesting. For example: Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, James Wong Howe, Dudley Nichols, Clifford Odets, Robert ...

Possessed by the Idols

Steven Shapin: Does Medicine Work?, 30 November 2006

Bad Medicine: Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates 
by David Wootton.
Oxford, 304 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 19 280355 7
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... writing his only history of science. It is still more surprising that it should come from David Wootton, an early modern intellectual historian whose 1983 study of Paolo Sarpi, a late Renaissance theologian, concluded by cautioning historians not to act as a ‘jury’. There are two stories folded into Wootton’s Bad Medicine: one concerns the ...

In the Ice-Box

Janette Turner Hospital, 12 January 1995

The Book of Intimate Grammar 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 224 03285 2
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... as pain, as malformation, as stunted growth. In this novel, as in his earlier See Under: Love, David Grossman reveals himself as a compassionate epidemiologist for those who experience history as inexorably degenerative disease, for lives which might be said to suffer from history as claustrophobia. For Grossman in both novels, as for Grass in The Tin ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... Israeli officials, for a man detained as a suspect in the killings of two Palestinians. The man, David Axelrod, is not related to Leon Trotsky. A man with the same name, who is a descendant of Trotsky, was questioned briefly by the police in a case of mistaken identity. The arcane character of this item, which was at the top of that day’s menu, might make ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson, 18 November 1982

Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... by homicidal maniacs on a collision course are also coming closer to one another. The novelist David Lodge, in one of the earnest but flustered contributions typical of Authors take sides on the Falklands, is more realistic. He writes that regaining the Falklands is not worth one human life. But he then confesses: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that ...

Warhol’s Respectability

Nicholas Penny, 19 March 1987

The Revenge of the Philistines 
by Hilton Kramer.
Secker, 445 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 436 23687 7
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Gilbert and George 
by Carter Ratcliff.
Thames and Hudson, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 500 27443 6
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British Art in the 20th Century 
edited by Susan Compton.
Prestel-Verlag (Munich), 460 pp., £16.90, January 1987, 3 7913 0798 3
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... In November of the following year he alerted his readers to the absence, in the art of David Hockney, of ‘the spiritual quest at the heart of modernism’. Several years later, in June 1981, he gave warning that the stained canvases of Morris Louis, the leading member of the ‘Washington Colour School’, did not represent the breakthrough that ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... as ‘a bohemian rebellion against established society which came to prominence about 1956’; David Ignatow’s poetic idiom as ‘Brooklynese speech’. But at least it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is – a ‘companion’, not a history. I wish I could say the same for the season’s lot of general surveys, which look so authoritative to the ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder, 17 April 1986

Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... cartoons of today’. Its pivotal event was the electrocution of the atom spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The British edition of Gerald’s Party, Coover’s latest novel, comes larded with tributes from Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury, both of whom insist on its canonical status. Coover is ‘a master’, says Carter, and according to Bradbury he is ...
Literature and Popular Culture in 18th-Century England 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 215 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0981 6
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Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Studies in Literature and Society in the Age of Walpole 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 173 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0986 7
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Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in 18th-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper 
by Claude Rawson.
Allen and Unwin, 431 pp., £30, August 1985, 0 04 800019 1
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Jonathan Swift 
edited by Angus Ross and David Woolley.
Oxford, 722 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 19 281337 4
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... sentiments necessarily impose themselves on particular writers. I recall a fine remark by Harold Rosenberg, that if a man is in a given situation, it doesn’t follow that his conscious will be there with him. But it would be wrong to run to the other extreme and claim that a writer is totally unconstrained in his images and motifs. A valid history of ideas ...

Makeshiftness

Barry Schwabsky: Who is Menzel?, 17 April 2003

Menzel’s Realism: Art and Embodiment in 19th-Century Berlin 
by Michael Fried.
Yale, 313 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 300 09219 9
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... as a sideline. Even the rival giants of American art criticism when Fried was a young man, Harold Rosenberg and Fried’s own mentor Clement Greenberg, started out wanting to be all-round literati before becoming specialists in the fine arts; but Fried, who was one of the first wave of art critics to have a PhD in art history, seems to have been the only one ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford, 7 September 1995

Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... the war doesn’t figure all that much in Graves’s early poetry. While Owen and Sassoon and Rosenberg found their styles transformed by the need to register the overwhelming horror and pity of the trenches, Graves seems to have felt poetry and war in some measure antithetical. Only a couple, such as ‘A Dead Boche’ (‘he scowled and stank/With ...

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