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At Miss Whitehead’s

Edward Said, 7 July 1994

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... people: Penelope Gilliatt, Lillian Hellman, Isaiah Berlin, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Harry Levin, W.H. Auden, Malraux, James Baldwin, Stravinsky, Robert Lowell etc. None of these people, however, furnishes Wilson with anything like a satisfying number of thoughtful passages in the journals. This is partly a result of misleading editing by Lewis ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... which vanquishes Condon and DeLillo while leaving spare capacity for the imagination. And here is Harry Hubbard, his outwardly insipid narrator. Hubbard is a white-collar type of CIA man, a ‘ghost’ writer of planted texts, who is vicariously thrilled by the knowledge that he is working with ruthless men. He meets his ‘other half’ of the Agency, Dix ...

Diary

Sean French: Fortress Wapping, 6 March 1986

... them. The journalists of the Sunday Times were summoned to a meeting on Monday morning at the Mount Pleasant Hotel, around the corner from our offices in the Gray’s Inn Road. We wait for the management’s offer but it turns out that there is no offer. In return for a salary increase of £2000 a year and membership of a private health scheme all ...

Best Beloved

Kevin Brownlow, 18 April 1985

Chaplin: His Life and Art 
by David Robinson.
Collins, 792 pp., £15, March 1985, 9780002163873
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... that film comedy was a commercial goldmine, there would have been no Keaton, or Harold Lloyd, or Harry Langdon. He laid the path along which they swept to success. I wish Robinson had found the space to explain a little about the sad fate of so many of the films. His accounts are based upon seeing the early films in their best surviving form. Most people are ...

White Slaves

Christopher Driver, 3 March 1983

Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight against White Slavery, 1870-1939 
by Edward Bristow.
Oxford, 340 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 19 822588 1
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Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes 
by Mikiso Hane.
Scolar, 297 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 85967 670 6
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... new recruits or ‘remounts’, as they were called in a phrase that would have appealed to Sir Harry Flashman. Hersch Gottlieb, Sam Lubelski, ‘Napoleon’ Dickenfaden and other notorieties negotiated for them with agents and principals (that is, parents) at the equivalent of trade fairs in Poland and Austrian Galicia. One well-known exchange point, where ...

Homage to the Provinces

Peter Campbell, 22 March 1990

Wright of Derby 
by Judy Egerton.
Tate Gallery, 294 pp., £25, February 1990, 1 85437 038 3
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... his father and five of his friends had sat to Devis 13 years before. Wright poses them casually. Harry Peckham stands with hand on hip; he was to die after breaking his neck while hunting. Nicholas Heath sits with his arm over the back of his chair; he changed his name to Nicholas Nicholas when he inherited an estate, Boy Court. Mrs Wilmot, painted in riding ...

Balls in Aquaria

Thomas Crow: Joseph Rykwert, 23 October 2008

The Judicious Eye: Architecture against the Other Arts 
by Joseph Rykwert.
Reaktion, 496 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 86189 358 1
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... characters weave in and out of the story, from the great (Wagner) to the now quite obscure (Count Harry Kessler). Rykwert’s favoured protagonists tend to avoid being pinned down to any one vocation; he doesn’t even require that they count architecture or visual art among their pursuits. Wagner features as a political ...

70 Centimetres and Rising

John Whitfield: Plate tectonics, 3 February 2005

The Earth: An Intimate History 
by Richard Fortey.
Harper Perennial, 501 pp., £9.99, March 2005, 0 00 655137 8
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... worldview was crumbling under the pressure of accumulative data. In a paper published in 1962, Harry Hess, a geologist at Princeton and former naval captain, proposed that the mid-Atlantic ridge was in the middle of the Atlantic because the continents were moving away from it at an equal rate: the ocean was getting wider and growing new crust at its ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII, 26 April 2012

Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... that accompanied the match made much of the king’s achievements. They stressed the ‘rich mount’ of his prosperity, playing on the name of his father’s earldom (Richmond) and his own new palace by the Thames; his likeness to God on earth; the fusing of the white rose and the red in his marriage to Elizabeth of York; its progeny; and its ...

Call me Ismail

Thomas Jones: Wu Ming, 18 July 2013

Altai 
by Wu Ming, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Verso, 263 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 1 78168 076 6
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... inventing a number of imaginary artists: according to fake stories fed to the newspapers, ‘Harry Kipper’ went missing in January 1995 while tracing the word ‘art’ across Europe on his mountain bike; ‘Darko Maver’, a Serbian sculptor and conceptual artist who made models of bloody corpses, was said to have died in a Nato bombing raid in ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... These were followed by her most famous residence in the US – the 35-room mansion known as The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts – and eventually by apartments in Paris, an 18th-century villa near Fontainebleau, and the Provençal house that she named Ste-Claire-le-Château, built on the site of a 17th-century convent in the old part of Hyères. Only The ...

A Girl Called Retina

Tom Crewe: You’ll like it when you get there, 13 August 2020

British Summer Time Begins: The School Summer Holidays, 1930-80 
by Ysenda Maxtone Graham.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £18.99, July, 978 1 4087 1055 5
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... These are women with names like Bubble Carew-Pole and Charlotte Bradley-Hanford and Juliet Mount Charles. Women who can say things like ‘My parents chose Wycombe Abbey because it was the nearest girls’ boarding school to Harley Street,’ or ‘My parents chose Heathfield because none of the girls had spots.’ Or, ‘My mother went to West Heath ...

Gossip in Gilt

James Wood: John Updike’s Licks of Love, 19 April 2001

Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, ‘Rabbit Remembered’ 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 368 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 9780241141298
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... Updike’s work in the last decade, and the stack of diligent second-rate books is beginning to mount: Brazil (1994), which was full of soft writing; In the Beauty of the Lilies (1996), a complacent historical saga; Toward the End of Time (1997), a deeply misogynistic moan; Bech at Bay (1998), a fleshless game; More Matter (1999), a rag-bag of ...

Think Tiny

Mark Ford: Nancification, 17 July 2008

The Nancy Book 
by Joe Brainard.
Siglio, 144 pp., $39.50, April 2008, 978 0 9799562 0 1
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... grinning Nancy replacing Teddy Roosevelt between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore); ‘If Nancy Was a Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci’ (her stolid features and purposeful stomp sketched on a sheet of Old Master drawings between noble profiles, sorrowing Madonnas, plaintive putti and snarling lions); ‘If Nancy Was the Bright’s ...

Tides of Treacle

James Wood: Nicole Krauss’s schmaltz, 23 June 2005

The History of Love 
by Nicole Krauss.
Viking, 252 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 670 91554 8
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... editorial continence? Instead of closing her paragraph here, Krauss spills on, and the sentences mount towards their pinnacle of schmaltz: The pain of forgetting: spine. The pain of remembering: spine. All the times I have suddenly realised that my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased ...

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