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Addicted to Unpredictability

James Wood: Knut Hamsun, 26 November 1998

Knut Hamsun. Selected Letters. Vol. II: 1898-1952 
edited by Harald Næss and James McFarlane.
Norvik, 351 pp., £14.95, April 1998, 1 870041 13 5
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by Knut Hamsun, translated by Sverre Lyngstad.
Rebel Inc, 193 pp., £6.99, October 1996, 0 86241 625 6
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... and Hitler. This new edition of his letters, finely selected and edited by Harald Næss and James McFarlane, allows us to judge Hamsun’s entire life and work. He was born in 1859 and grew up in Hamarøy, in the far north of Norway, about two hundred miles north of the Polar Circle. This was a sharp landscape, of mountains, valleys and brief ...


James McConica, 21 January 1982

by I.D. McFarlane.
Duckworth, 575 pp., £45, June 1981, 0 7156 0971 8
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... of Latin at Bordeaux, and in Portugal at Coimbra. He was tutor to Montaigne and, most famously, to James VI and I, whose political views he can have engendered only by opposition. He was a friend to Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay and many of the Pléiade company; to Nicholas de Grouchy, the editor of Aristotle, Elie Vinet the mathematician and ...
... K.B. McFarlane was one of the most influential medieval historians of postwar Britain, but his name is unknown outside academic circles. This would have pleased him. He grew up in Dulwich, the son of a civil servant in the Admiralty. A day boy at Dulwich College, he won an open scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford and then a senior demyship at Magdalen where in 1928 he became a fellow and spent the rest of his life ...

Death (and Life) of the Author

Peter Wollen: Kathy Acker, 5 February 1998

... a necessary phase of experimentalism which, in the carefully chosen words of Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, ‘made its way by spectacle, establishing its practices and its norms, asserting its distinctive significance for the times’, before its achievements were absorbed into a wider current, ‘the Modernist impulse transcending, often, the ...
... to the Iranians from 1985 onwards, of the ludicrously misconceived mission to Tehran by Robert McFarlane in May 1986, and of the use to which the profits of the sales were put, have been the subject of inquiries by the combined Senate and House Select Committee. The major questions were whether the President knew of the diversion of funds from the Iranian ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... been that son of Yorkshire Jimmy Savile who seemed made from marzipan. But not now. No cake for James.7 August, Oxford. To Oxford and the Holywell Music Room where Bodley’s librarian emeritus David Vaisey and I have a conversation about our time at Oxford in the 1950s. David and I were first aware of each other at the scholarship examination in Exeter ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... characters got a tick if they were on the side of liberty (Cromwell, Chatham), a cross (Charles I, James II) if they held up the march of progress. Because he went in for active royalty and made some attempt to govern on his own account rather than leaving it to the Whig aristocracy, George III had been written up as a villain and a clumsy tyrant. This view ...

Dynamite for Cologne

Michael Wood: James Meek, 21 July 2005

The People’s Act of Love 
by James Meek.
Canongate, 391 pp., £12.99, July 2005, 1 84195 654 6
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... James Meek’s early fiction is alert, acrid and funny, and only slightly too insistent on its own quirkiness – as if it were hoping reviewers would call it surreal (they did) and confident that this would be a good thing. These qualities make for many sudden pleasures of reading, but I could find nothing in the two novels and the two collections of stories – McFarlane Boils the Sea (1989), Drivetime (1995), Last Orders (1992), The Museum of Doubt (2000) – that prepared me for the eloquent sobriety of the new book, The People’s Act of Love, and its entirely different sense of what is strange ...


Edward Said, 7 May 1987

The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey 
by Salman Rushdie.
Picador, 171 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 330 29990 5
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Turning the Tide: US Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace 
by Noam Chomsky.
Pluto, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1986, 0 7453 0184 3
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... The argument given in defence of what was done has been, from the start, that sending Robert McFarlane to Teheran was an attempt to exploit a ‘geopolitical opening’. Both versions of the same series of events have been criticised as an affront to the stated US policy of not dealing with terrorists or terrorist states. According to the categories ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... Clanvowe, ‘the Castor and Pollux of the Lollard movement’, as the medieval historian Bruce McFarlane called them. Neville died just four days after Clanvowe, the inscription records, in October 1391. The Westminster Chronicle fills in the details. Following the death of Clanvowe, ‘for whom his love was no less than for himself’, Neville starved ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson, 18 December 1986

L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... with editions in every major language. This ambition suffered a setback when the paper’s editor, James Whelan, parted on bitter terms, alleging that all power on the paper was still concentrated among a handful of ex-KCIA Moonies. His replacement as editor was Arnaud de Borchgrave, a journalist long known for his extreme right-wing views and his sympathetic ...

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