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Brown and Friends

David Runciman, 3 January 2008

... Gordon Brown, like all prime ministers, like all politicians, like all of us really, is over-reliant on the advice of a small group of people he thinks he can trust. In Brown’s case, these tend to be men who once worked as juniors in his office, having been hand-picked at a very young age ...

In praise of work

Dinah Birch, 24 October 1991

Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle 
by Teresa Newman and Ray Watkinson.
Chatto, 226 pp., £50, July 1991, 0 7011 3186 1
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... Ford Madox Brown’s greatest picture is called Work, and it depicts the laying of a sewer. It is not beautiful. But that is part of Brown’s point, for he was after qualities that counted for more than beauty. Its subject was carefully chosen. Brown knew that sewers mattered ...

Charmed Life

John Bayley, 15 September 1983

The Russian Revolutionary Novel: Turgenev to Pasternak 
by Richard Freeborn.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, January 1983, 0 521 24442 0
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Boris Pasternak: His Life and Art 
by Guy de Mallac.
Souvenir, 450 pp., £14.95, February 1983, 0 285 62558 6
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Pasternak: A Biography 
by Ronald Hingley.
Weidenfeld, 294 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 9780297782070
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Selected Poems 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 7139 1497 1
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Poets of Modern Russia 
by Peter France.
Cambridge, 240 pp., £20, February 1983, 0 521 23490 5
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Russian Literature since the Revolution 
by Edward Brown.
Harvard, 413 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 674 78203 8
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... round Pasternak precisely because his psychology did not mesh with it, because of what Edward Brown in Russian Literature since the Revolution calls ‘his long exile inside himself’. Brown’s beautifully informative study, now republished in a revised and considerably enlarged version, is ...

Creative Affinities

Martin Swales, 15 July 1982

The Newton Letter 
by John Banville.
Secker, 82 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 436 03265 1
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... takes a back seat as he becomes fascinated with the family on whose property he is living. Edward Lawless is a wreck of a man, clumsy, inarticulate, frequently drunk; his wife Charlotte is noble, suffering, strangely withdrawn; Ottilie, Charlotte’s niece, is blonde, somewhat graceless, but physically available. Even in the physical abandon of his ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Ben Nicholson, 20 November 2008

... Surfaces in pale earth colours – brown, grey and buff – scraped and rescraped until they look like a wall ready for papering. Backgrounds overlaid with strong accents in brown and black or with patches of red, blue and green, bright as flags on a yacht. The whole articulated by hard pencil lines, some ruled, some making simple curves and circles ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... had a second act after losing the election of 1964, serving as foreign secretary under Edward Heath. These are the lucky ones. A different fate awaited Jim Callaghan, who drifted into a burdensome obscurity after losing the 1979 election and resigning as Labour leader the following year. There is a sad letter from him in the LRB archive, responding ...

Interesting Fellows

Walter Nash, 4 May 1989

The Book of Evidence 
by John Banville.
Secker, 220 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 436 03267 8
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Carn 
by Patrick McCabe.
Aidan Ellis, 252 pp., £11.50, March 1989, 0 85628 180 8
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The Tryst 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 168 pp., £10.99, April 1989, 0 571 15450 6
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Gerontius 
by James Hamilton-Paterson.
Macmillan, 264 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 333 45194 5
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... you while you are making a ludicrously maladroit attempt to swaddle a stolen painting in brown paper. Fly into a sulk. Bundle the poor girl into your car, and when she protests, silence her with a hammer, noting, as you do so, that its impact on her skull is like hitting clay or hard putty. (You are brilliantly obsessed by details.) Drive thirty ...

Rough Wooing

Michael Brown: Flodden, 23 January 2014

Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 
by George Goodwin.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86739 5
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... later this year. The implication is that the planned celebration of Robert Bruce’s victory over Edward II of England in 1314 reflects the political agenda of the SNP Scottish government in a way that Flodden does not. The difference in the treatment of the two battles was evident in the monument erected at Flodden before the 400th anniversary, at the high ...

Dissecting the Body

Colm Tóibín: Ian McEwan, 26 April 2007

On Chesil Beach 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 166 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 08118 4
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... a woman’s thing.”’) It is not hard to imagine the surprise of Florence, the girlfriend of Edward Mayhew, a nice girl in her early twenties from a nice background in Ian McEwan’s new novel, On Chesil Beach, when ‘one Saturday afternoon in late March, with the rain falling heavily outside the windows . . . she let her hand rest briefly ...

Relations will stop at nothing

Philip Horne, 5 March 1987

The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William Dean Howells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... the text so far critically – and get it right – in order to proceed with it creatively. Alice Brown, one of the sharpest of the other contributors, expressed puzzlement to Elizabeth Jordan and identified the aunt as the knot in the puzzle. If she is mad she can be grappled with. We can pack her off to a symbolic asylum and let the erotic fever which ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman, 9 May 2002

... anyone settling down to write the further adventures of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it’s never done as well as Tom Brown’s ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... present at the destruction' of the ‘West’, the ‘world’s most successful political idea’. Edward Luce, for example, a Financial Times columnist based in Washington DC, isn’t sure ‘whether the Western way of life, and our liberal democratic systems, can survive’. Donald Trump has also chimed in, asking ‘whether the West has the will to ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated ...

The Crotch Thing

James Wood: Alan Hollinghurst, 16 July 1998

The Spell 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Chatto, 257 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 7011 6519 7
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... or because nothing much is demanded of them by their creator. The hero of The Folding Star, Edward Manners, was alive in his misery, as he tramped through Bruges in search of the object of his desire, young Luc Altidore. Alex Nichols suffers in rather similar ways in The Spell, but it is difficult to care about him as one cared for ...

The Art of Being Found Out

Colm Tóibín: The need to be revealed, 20 March 2008

... In Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, the narrator contemplates the words of passion used by Edward Ashburnham to a young girl, Nancy, and his need to speak them, and what happened once these words were spoken aloud: ‘It was as if his passion for her hadn’t existed; as if the very words that he spoke, without knowing that he spoke them, created the ...

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