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Damaged Beasts

James Wood: Peter Carey’s ‘Theft’, 8 June 2006

Theft: A Love Story 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 269 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 571 23147 0
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... retreated to a rustic house in New South Wales owned by his patron. Here, Michael is looking after Hugh, his large, backward brother, and painting vivid new canvases. Like many of Carey’s scarred, ebullient narrators, Michael is a performer, and his language is a tough dramatic alloy, delicate and robust at once: This paint was from Raphaelson’s, a small ...

‘Turbot, sir,’ said the waiter

E.S. Turner, 4 April 1991

After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse 
by Richard Usborne.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £15.99, February 1991, 0 09 174712 0
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... surnames) was the Grand Old Man’s own choice as Wodehouse scholar. Back in the Fifties Herbert Jenkins wanted someone to write about the Wodehouse oeuvre. ‘It had not been Wodehouse’s idea that there should be a book assessing his place in English literature, but he had said, in effect: “If you must, try this chap Usborne.” It would have given me ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Admirer

Ian Aitken, 21 November 1991

Time to declare 
by David Owen.
Joseph, 822 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 7181 3514 8
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... to Britain using force against the Egyptians my workmates went wild ... Soon they saw even Hugh Gaitskell, Labour’s leader, as a backslider. The Gyppos had hit us, so we should hit them.’ Dr Owen concedes, in passing, that he disagreed with them about the Egyptian nationalisation of the Suez Canal. But he adds: ‘Suez taught me one vital political ...

Seeing it all

Peter Clarke, 12 October 1989

The Time of My life 
by Denis Healey.
Joseph, 512 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 7181 3114 2
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... recruited through provincial grammar schools. When Denis Healey encountered Edward Heath and Roy Jenkins at Balliol just before the Second World War, such was their tryst with destiny. This was in Healey’s Communist phase, which lasted until the fall of France. When the Marxist-dominated Labour Club split in 1940, he opposed ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: 1920s v. 1980s, 17 March 1988

... First Reform Bill or the Charge of the Light Brigade. I have started by reading in parallel Peter Jenkins’s Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution and the two concluding volumes of Halévy’s magisterial History of the English People in the 19th Century, which between them take the story from 1895 to 1914. The contrast is not so much between an era of greatness and ...

Maximum Embarrassment

David Marquand, 7 May 1987

Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism 
by John Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £15.95, March 1987, 0 297 78998 8
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The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton: 1918-40, 1945-60 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape, 752 pp., £40, January 1987, 0 224 01912 0
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... stumbled and prevaricated as they did partly because their followers were haunted by the ghosts of Hugh Gaitskell and Aneurin Bevan. To be sure, the Labour Party was an unruly and fissiparous coalition, with an extraordinary propensity to shoot itself in the foot, when Aneurin Bevan was still an unknown backbencher and Gaitskell a university lecturer. As the ...

Digging up the Ancestors

R.W. Johnson, 14 November 1996

Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... no doubt, from a desperate endeavour to find a leader of note somewhere. Hence this book. ‘Hugh Gaitskell was the grandfather of Tony Blair’s revolution, the original Labour moderniser,’ the blurb begins. With Labour under Blair mobilising for a climactic campaign after 18 years of Tory rule, there is a need to invoke tradition, a legitimate ...

I Will Tell You Everything

Rosemary Hill: Iris Murdoch, 22 April 2010

Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War – Letters and Diaries 1939-45 
edited by Peter Conradi.
Short Books, 303 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 1 906021 22 1
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With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch 
by David Morgan.
Kingston, 143 pp., £13.99, March 2010, 978 1 899999 42 2
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... situation raised uncomfortable questions. She was more at home debating ideological niceties with Hugh James, who ‘took up the orthodox Bolshevik position … that I should not think in analogies as it was dangerous … he is excellent fun to argue with.’ Non-Oxford people were less satisfactory. The ‘hearty old couple’ the troupe stayed with near ...

Europe could damage her health

William Rodgers, 6 July 1989

The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79608 9
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... The split in the Labour Party over Europe was to be decisive. It led to the resignation of Roy Jenkins as Deputy Leader and to the breakdown of the old, controlling alliance on the centre-right of the party. The SDP, when it emerged ten years later, was the lineal descendant of the Labour rebellion. But dissent in the Conservative Party presented no ...

Harold, row the boat aground

Paul Foot, 20 November 1986

Memoirs 1916-1964: The Making of a Prime Minister 
by Harold Wilson.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 214 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2775 7
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... leader, Harold Wilson. The ‘warm-up’ was a brilliant speech by the MP for Stechford, Roy Jenkins, who described his leader as ‘the greatest Parliamentarian of his generation’. The acclamation for Wilson as he rose to speak, diminutive behind a huge lectern, was deafening. I noticed that he had few notes – perhaps one sheet of paper with a few ...

Diary

Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... Party’s relations with the Soviet Union: ‘Left can speak to Left.’ 4. Nye Bevan called Hugh Gaitskell ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. 5. Rab Butler said: ‘Sir Anthony Eden is the best prime minister we have.’ 6. Harold Macmillan campaigned in the 1959 Election on the slogan: ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ 7. Edward Heath gave his ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

Acrimony 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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Idols 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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Opia 
by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... it too is about an overbearing writer-father and adopts a laconic, confessional voice. But Hugh Williams (1904-69) is not around to complain about the fairness or otherwise of the portrayal. Michael Hofmann runs greater risks, aesthetic as well as familial. That his sequence succeeds triumphantly, its acrimony leaving no bad taste in the mouth, is due ...

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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... only on one politician or party, and least of all on the Civil Service and the executive. Peter Jenkins of the Guardian was the first to get it right, when he told a protest rally: ‘This is Parliament’s war!’ The end of the Falklands affair was not difficult to condemn either. The problem of the islands had been rendered far more intractable, lives ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Wilson was seen as the beneficiary of, and a possible participant in, the assassination of Hugh Gaitskell; lists were drawn up of such notorious Communists or Communist sympathisers as Brian Walden, David Owen, Robert Mellish, John Stonehouse, Roy Hattersley and Reg Prentice; and even a bogus pamphlet on ‘revolutionary strategy’ for the ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: You had better look out, 10 December 1998

... Ltd by Blair & Co. Nor did I expect to be reproved, however gently, for indiscretion by Simon Jenkins on the op-ed page of the Times – as if I hadn’t cleared what I proposed to print with anyone quoted directly who might have suffered in consequence, or would have dreamed of disclosing to LRB readers without Simon’s express permission what he had ...

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