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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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... is: who reads these books and what purpose do they serve? I can imagine looking up a name in James Hart’s fifth edition of The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Updated to include ‘authors not yet born when this book was first begun’, it offers abbreviated commentaries on such newly arrived figures on the scene as Diane Wakoski ...

Educating the Blimps

Geoffrey Best: Military history, 10 June 1999

Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart 
by Alex Danchev.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 297 81621 7
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Studies in British Military Thought: Debates with Fuller and Liddell Hart 
by Brian Holden Reid.
Nebraska, 287 pp., £30, October 1998, 0 8032 3927 0
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... Basil Liddell Hart was ‘the captain who taught generals’. His active participation in fighting was limited to three brief bursts during the First World War, the last and by far the worst ending with a nightmarish experience of panic and gas in Mametz Wood, on the Somme, which left him unfit for further front-line service ...

Awful but Cheerful

Gillian White: The Tentativeness of Elizabeth Bishop, 25 May 2006

Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments 
by Elizabeth Bishop, edited by Alice Quinn.
Farrar, Straus, 367 pp., £22.50, March 2006, 0 374 14645 4
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... Human Abstract’. The Vassar archives hold references to many other writers and critics – Henry James, Hart Crane, as well as notes on modern art and scattered thoughts on narrative – that don’t make it into Quinn’s edition, and it would have been good to know more about her selection criteria. Small quarrels ...

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell, 4 June 1981

The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... Among those who appeared there from time to time with a guest evidently not his wife was Rupert Hart-Davis. He was unique among those couples, with their faintly clandestine air, in boldly underlining his presence within the pub by parking outside the entrance a publisher’s van on the side of which was inscribed in large letters: RUPERT ...

Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim, 16 December 2010

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... collaborators) that he declared he was giving up theatre to write mystery novels. He rallied after James Lapine, a new collaborator, suggested doing something about Seurat and his painting of a Sunday afternoon at la Grande Jatte. That show ran for 604 performances, yet its ten Tony nominations led only to design prizes – there really is a Broadway faction ...

Self-Extinction

Russell Davies, 18 June 1981

Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... silently exacted by the rest or us who have no gift to exercise. Be the protagonist Van Gogh or James Dean, the message from the public is the same. We love you for your talent, but we will love you doubly for dying of it. The proof that we are better off without it is a comfort. It helps to make the complacency of an unrisked life that much more ...

Supermax

John Bayley, 8 December 1988

The Letters of Max Beerbohm 1892-1956 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 244 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7195 4537 4
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The Faber Book of Letters 
edited by Felix Pryor.
Faber, 319 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 571 15269 4
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... for pen to write or paper to record.’ Yet pen wrote it and paper recorded it, even so. Rupert Hart-Davis does not reprint much of the correspondence about Wilde, rightly thinking it available elsewhere, but he does publish the touching letter Max wrote to Robert Ross, Oscar’s premier initiator, when he was in New York with his half-brother, the famous ...

Funnelweb

Clive James, 5 April 1984

... sun Fill up his tinted visor like white wine. Few poets get the face that they deserve Or, like Hart Crane, can travel in a tear. Of course Villeneuve was handsome anyway – The Rimbaud of the wheel just oozed romance – But where his class showed was in how that beast Ferrari drew sweet curves at his behest Instead of leading him St Vitus’ dance. He ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... no such misgivings. Does this mean ceasing to discriminate between literature and yarns? Professor James Naremore, in Professor Bernard Benstock’s symposium, seems to imply that it does. Dashiell Hammett, he writes, ‘challenges the easy distinctions between popular and high art, and the critical language that normally sustains those ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Equality Legislation, 7 February 2019

... to Foundations of Indirect Discrimination Law (edited by Hugh Collins and Tarunabh Khaitan, Hart, £65), the US courts, employing the ‘because of’ formula, have always demanded proof of discriminatory intent, something easily denied and not always easily proved. UK law, though it builds (like EU law) on the American concept, has gone beyond intent ...

Persons Aggrieved

Stephen Sedley, 22 May 1997

... it effect. Within a year Granville Sharp had returned to Lord Mansfield’s court with the case of James Somersett, another runaway slave who had been taken by force to a vessel moored in the Thames and bound for Jamaica. Mansfield this time grasped the nettle: ‘The state of slavery,’ he held, ‘is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced ...

More democracy?

James Fishkin, 17 June 1982

... to perfecting the process of political competition and representation – see, for example, John Hart Ely’s Democracy and Distrust. Judicial activism in the interest of protecting substantive rights not required (or previously decided) by the political process itself would, on this view, be undemocratic. It would be undemocratic because it would involve ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: ‘Inside the Dream Palace’, 6 February 2014

... the great Ellington protégé, was living there – presumably composing – in the 1990s. James Schuyler arrived in 1979 and wrote out his last years there. The Chelsea’s presiding spirit in the 19th century was Philip Gengembre Hubert, the son of a French Fourierist who took him to America as the New World phalansteries were breaking up. Hubert, a ...

Loving Dracula

Michael Wood, 25 February 1993

Bram Stoker’s Dracula 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
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Suckers: Bleeding London Dry 
by Anne Billson.
Pan, 315 pp., £4.99, January 1993, 0 330 32806 9
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... swears to live for ever as God’s enemy. In interviews Coppola and the author of the screenplay, James V. Hart, have insisted on the gripping irony of this situation and on their sense of Dracula as a fallen angel. Great love in its bafflement turns to great hatred; even evil may have its origins in strangled or thwarted ...

Bull

Bernard Wasserstein, 23 September 1993

Imperial Warrior: The Life and Times of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby 1861-1936 
by Lawrence James.
Weidenfeld, 279 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 297 81152 5
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... performance in France and Belgium in the First World War has received mixed reviews. General Sir James Edmonds, editor of the official history of the war, declared Allenby’s record on the Western Front ‘one of gross stupidity from first to last’. On the other hand, Colonel Repington, the influential military correspondent of the Times, pronounced him ...

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