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Evil Days

Ian Hamilton, 23 July 1992

The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia 
by John Carey.
Faber, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1992, 0 571 16273 8
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... Lord Northcliffe and the editor of Tit-Bits at its head. There had rapidly come into being what John Carey describes as ‘an alternative culture which bypassed the intellectual and made him redundant’. It was a culture that used itself up as it went along, but its audience could be numbered in millions and the delights it provided were not all that ...

Yearning for the ‘Utile’

Frank Kermode: Snobbery and John Carey, 23 June 2005

What Good Are the Arts? 
by John Carey.
Faber, 286 pp., £12.99, June 2005, 0 571 22602 7
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... John Carey, former Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford, an authority on Milton and Donne and Dickens and others, the very model of a Merton Professor, has also been, for decades, the chief reviewer of the Sunday Times, a BBC sage, a sought-after chairman of panels, a man well known for his strong opinions on all matters to do with literature and the other arts ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers and editors do the work he wants to help with – they keep going some intelligent conversation about ...

Donne’s Will to Power

Christopher Ricks, 18 June 1981

John Donne: Life, Mind and Art 
by John Carey.
Faber, 303 pp., £9.50, May 1981, 0 571 11636 1
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... Donne’s powers are, for John Carey, a matter of power, the poems being ‘the most enduring exhibition of the will to power the English Renaissance produced’. The praises of Donne in this critical work of amazing flair and obduracy are single-minded: Donne is here valued, supremely, for the power and tenacity of his ego, for his imaginative energy, for his desire to dominate or his rage for supremacy, and for the obsession with which he registered the contrarieties and contradictions of life ‘in all their urgent discord ...

Donne’s Reputation

Sarah Wintle, 20 November 1980

English Renaissance Studies 
edited by John Carey.
Oxford, 320 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 19 812093 1
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... preface to this celebratory volume of essays presented to Dame Helen Gardner on her 70th birthday, John Carey apologises for the fact that the topics discussed are restricted to 16th and 17th-century English literature. Dame Helen’s latest book, after all, was The Composition of ‘The Four Quartets’. Eliot’s presence, though, still hovers over ...

Structuralism Domesticated

Frank Kermode, 20 August 1981

Working with Structuralism 
by David Lodge.
Routledge, 207 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 7100 0658 6
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... thought to be in the same class as oneself. Reviewers solved their problem in various ways. John Carey, in the Sunday Times, explained first that whoever thinks there is anything in structuralism except one or two points that are already obvious is in need of ‘sedation and devoted nursing’. Lodge, however, is not your wilder type of ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... years. Soloists with the chorus of praise have been distinguished and influential: Peter Porter, John Carey, John Bayley – and Raine himself has by no means been indisposed with laryngitis. His position in literary journalism and his access to the popularising media have played their part in his promotion. And the ...

Cold-Shouldered

James Wood: John Carey, 8 March 2001

Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books 
by John Carey.
Faber, 173 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 571 20448 1
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... John Carey’s new book, like his last one, The Intellectuals and the Masses, is a little swizzle-stick perfectly designed for flattening airy literary bubbles. Surprisingly, it is likable, wise and often right, the more so in tending to contradict The Intellectuals and the Masses, which had none of these qualities ...

The Trouble with Nowhere

Martin Jay, 1 June 2000

The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy 
by Russell Jacoby.
Basic Books, 256 pp., £17.95, April 1999, 0 465 02000 3
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Utopias: Russian Modernist Texts 1905-40 
edited by Catriona Kelly.
Penguin, 378 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 14 118081 1
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The Faber Book of Utopias 
edited by John Carey.
Faber, 560 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780571197859
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The Nazi War on Cancer 
by Robert Proctor.
Princeton, 390 pp., £18.95, May 1999, 0 691 00196 0
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... a different future, there is no dearth of attempts to do so in the recent anthologies edited by John Carey and Catriona Kelly. Like all such collections of snippets from a wide variety of sources, they inevitably reflect their editors’ predilections rather than a canonical list of candidates for inclusion. The Kelly anthology, in fact, is more a ...

Theophany

Frank Kermode: William Golding, 5 November 2009

William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... John Carey has had access to voluminous archives stored in the Faber basement or in the keeping of William Golding’s family. No one else may see them; he alone can quote from unpublished novels, journals, memoirs, correspondence and conversations. He has made excellent use of these privileges, and the result is a full, friendly, and on proper occasions candid, account of a remarkable man, who took a long time to achieve an understanding of how truly remarkable he was, and then did so only fitfully ...

Anglo-Irish Occasions

Seamus Heaney, 5 May 1988

... a devastating sort as well. It is not so long ago, indeed, that I experienced a sharp regret that John Carey’s unstinted praise of work that I had done had also provided the occasion for his fierce underestimation of work by a friend and countryman of mine. Still, it is inevitable that this kind of complication enter into the relations between poets ...

Puffed Wheat

James Wood: How serious is John Bayley?, 20 October 2005

The Power of Delight: A Lifetime in Literature: Essays 1962-2002 
by John Bayley, selected by Leo Carey.
Duckworth, 677 pp., £25, March 2005, 0 7156 3312 0
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... three most prominent Oxford professors of English since the war have all been populist pretenders. John Carey, scourge of Modernist ‘intellectuals’ and reliable dribbler of cold water on all forms of overheated aestheticism, comes across as the last defender of sensible English decency. Terry Eagleton, with his blokeish binarisms and comic’s ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley, 11 July 2002

Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... signals the critical thrust of Murray’s book. He opposes the ‘new orthodoxy’ expounded by John Carey in his 1992 polemic, The Intellectuals and the Masses. This biography aims to vindicate Huxley as a humane thinker and artist rather than the crypto-fascist, eugenicist, public-school snob, or (in later life) the ‘fully fledged, fuzzy-brained ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray, 20 January 2000

Thackeray 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... And, one mutters, reviewers carp. For all this, Taylor has a critical parti pris. Like John Carey, whom he admires, he subscribes to the simplifying (and Ray-reversing) view that Thackeray is a one-book author. Or, as Carey brutally puts it: ‘Thackeray’s career as a leading novelist began and ended with ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor, 18 February 2016

The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... irritated by talk of class conflict, and is not exactly in congratulatory mood when he calls John Carey the most class-conscious critic of the modern age. (The literary hackles raised by Carey’s recent memoir, The Unexpected Professor, which puts the petty-bourgeois boot into patrician dons, revealed just what ...

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