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Terrible to be alive

Julian Symons, 5 December 1991

Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... Prufrock volume can now be seen ‘to stain the whole sea’ of modern verse. His advocacy of Scott Fitzgerald began with, or endured through, the appalling This Side of Paradise to the triumph of Gatsby. Stevens, Cummings, Pound, Crane, Dos Passos: their merits and possibilities of development were noted at an early stage in their careers. For two ...

You are the we of me

Joyce Carol Oates: The Autobiography of Carson McCullers, 2 September 1999

Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers 
edited by Carlos Dews.
Wisconsin, 256 pp., £19.95, September 1999, 0 299 16440 3
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... of the erratic, often inebriated behaviour of Carson McCullers, a literary prodigy to set beside Scott Fitzgerald in the previous generation. (McCullers, married to a bisexual man, was frequently enamoured of women who sometimes, but more often didn’t, welcome her effusive advances.) Of the trio, Flannery O’Connor, who published her first novel Wise ...

Father’ Things

Gabriele Annan, 7 August 1980

The Duke of Deception: Memories of My Father 
by Geoffrey Wolff.
Hodder, 275 pp., £8.25, June 1980, 0 340 25469 6
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... principles were more or less those of Baudelaire’s dandy filtered through Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald, and naturally with American trimmings – fast, rare, expensive cars being top of the list. According to a female cousin, he had ‘gorgeous taste’. ‘He took things, things seriously,’ writes his son: ‘I recollect things, a ...

The Nephew

David Thomson, 19 March 1981

Charmed Lives 
by Michael Korda.
Penguin, 498 pp., £2.50, January 1981, 0 14 005402 2
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... and appeal of this book spring from the way Michael Korda always wanted to be his own uncle. When Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Last Tycoon he invented the original of Michael Korda: Cecilia Brady he called her, a girl dried out on knowingness who was ‘going to write my memoirs once, The Producer’s Daughter, but at 18 years you never quite get around to ...

Neurotic Health

Michael Shepherd, 17 December 1981

Becoming Psychiatrists 
by Donald Light.
Norton, 429 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 393 01168 2
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... world inhabited by the Hollywood shrink and in the fictional characters of American writers from Scott Fitzgerald to Erica Jong. It is an image manifestly different from the one with which the millions of British television viewers, glued weekly to the soap-operatic events taking place in Maybury Hospital, were presented in the person of Dr Edward ...

Water Music

Allon White, 2 September 1982

Oh what a paradise it seems 
by John Cheever.
Cape, 99 pp., £5.50, July 1982, 0 224 02930 4
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Collected Short Stories 
by John Cheever.
Penguin, 704 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 14 005575 4
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So long a Letter 
by Mariama Bâ, translated by Modupé Bodé-Thomas.
Virago, £5.50, August 1982, 0 86068 295 1
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A joke goes a long way in the country 
by Alannah Hopkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 157 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 241 10798 9
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... as its predecessor, Falconer. Malcolm Bradbury once described Cheever as ‘somewhere between Scott Fitzgerald and John Updike’, and for nearly all of his writing except Falconer this is fair. Mostly Cheever wrote of the lives, loves and manners of suburban America, particularly the fashionable foibles of the upper middle classes of Westchester and ...

The Price of Artichokes

Nicholas Howe: Ippolito d’Este’s excesses, 17 March 2005

The Cardinal’s Hat: Money, Ambition and Housekeeping in a Renaissance Court 
by Mary Hollingsworth.
Profile, 320 pp., £8.99, April 2005, 1 86197 770 0
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... How excessive was the excess of the past? Scott Fitzgerald may have decided that the very rich are different from you and me, but they live in our own time; so we can begin to comprehend their wealth, even when spent on private jets, triplex penthouses or million-dollar birthday parties. The scales for measuring wealth in the past seem less certain, when the contemporary value of a pound or louis or scudo is difficult to fix except in terms of relatively abstract comparisons ...

No-Shit Dinosaur

Jon Day: Karen Russell, 2 June 2011

Swamplandia! 
by Karen Russell.
Chatto, 316 pp., £12.99, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8602 9
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... the Skies!’ and a home-school textbook is titled ‘Teach Your Child … in the Wild!’ For F. Scott Fitzgerald using exclamation marks is like ‘laughing at your own jokes’, but Russell uses them to puncture advertising cant, and you can usually laugh along with her. She is herself a hotly promoted commodity – one of Granta’s best young ...

From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies, 3 September 1981

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... in war but hunting, fishing, shooting, whoring, drinking, fathering kids, being a friend to F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce etc. The only way they noticed I injured myself was because I could not spell hemmorage and still cannot. But it is very easy to injure yourself up here. Everybody is drunk all the time – it is the thing to be, like snotty in ...

Diary

Elaine Showalter: On the Phi Beta Kappa Tour, 10 March 1994

... imagination to adventure into newness.’ In seminars, students asked about the relevance of Scott Peck to Jane Austen, and posed New Age questions on the courtship rituals of Pride and Prejudice: ‘Suppose Elizabeth Bennet said to her parents: “I’ve found a life partner I really love, and she’s a woman”?’ Though I had asked for a modern ...
... revolted by that book, and American intellectuals have never put him beside Faulkner, Hemingway or Scott Fitzgerald. And on the Continent there is no translation of Waugh as audacious as Avanti Jeeves. And yet even those who praise him nearly always begin by dissociating themselves from what they regard as his bigotry, his snobbery, his cruelty, his ...

Daisy packs her bags

Zachary Leader: The Road to West Egg, 21 September 2000

Trimalchio: An Early Version of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by James L.W. West III.
Cambridge, 192 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 521 40237 9
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... fits into this admittedly crude narrative, is no easy question. This Side of Paradise (1920), Fitzgerald’s first novel, was published when he was 24. It was an instant commercial success, though its critical reception was mixed. It was followed in the same year by his first collection of stories, Flappers and Philosophers (a title derived from ...

Wounds

Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

Hemingway 
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... latter always be accepted as the truth? Or when Hemingway writes (in A Moveable Feast) that Scott Fitzgerald admitted to having been a virgin before he married Zelda, and the English actress Rosalinde Fuller writes that, on the contrary, she had a passionate affair with Fitzgerald before his marriage, should her ...

A Human Kafka

Gabriel Josipovici, 5 March 1981

The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 297 77845 5
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... quality into focus. Was our curiosity about Kafka any different from our curiosity about Joyce or Scott Fitzgerald? It was, but how and why? Answers to these questions began to emerge as more and more of his writings began to appear: his diaries, his letter to his father, the batch of letters to Milena Jesenska and, finally, the enormous volume of ...

Riparian

Douglas Johnson, 15 July 1982

The Left Bank: Writers in Paris, from Popular Front to Cold War 
by Herbert Lottman.
Heinemann, 319 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 434 42943 0
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... Voltaire, Napoleon and Alfred de Musset; Harry’s Bar, near the Opéra, resurrected Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald. Nor need such nostalgia be confined to France: Philip Hope-Wallace at El Vino’s, Dylan Thomas in the Fitzroy and the Yorkshire Grey, W. H. Auden at the Hope and Anchor in Birmingham. Since we cannot all share in the intimacy of the ...

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