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She’s not scared

Thomas Jones: Niccolò Ammaniti, 6 September 2017

Anna 
by Niccolò Ammaniti, translated by Jonathan Hunt.
Canongate, 261 pp., £12.99, August 2017, 978 1 78211 834 3
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... Ammaniti internationally famous, his fourth, Io non ho paura (2001, translated into English by Jonathan Hunt as I’m Not Scared), is set in the long hot summer of 1978, in an isolated hamlet surrounded by cornfields in an unspecified part of southern Italy. The narrator, nine-year-old Michele Amitrano, is quick-witted, observant, brave and good ...

Flower Power

P.N. Furbank: Jocelyn Brooke, 8 May 2003

'The Military Orchid’ and Other Novels 
by Jocelyn Brooke.
Penguin, 437 pp., £10.99, August 2002, 0 14 118713 1
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... which happiness could spring into sudden unexpected bloom, like a flower from the bare rock’. Jonathan Hunt, who is at work on a biography of Brooke, argues in his percipient preface to the Penguin edition that, for Brooke’s narrator as a child, the Orchis militaris ‘seems to embody all the desirable qualities of masculinity, which he feels he ...

Don’t laugh

Amit Chaudhuri: Hari Kunzru, 8 August 2002

The Impressionist 
by Hari Kunzru.
Hamish Hamilton, 435 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 241 14169 9
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... set piece in the book, the best evidence of Kunzru’s talent and vast organisational skills. A hunt has been arranged in honour of a visitor, Sir Wyndham Braddock, ‘His Majesty’s Resident in the Combined Punjab States’, and his wife, Lady Aurelia. ‘Had it been at all possible, Sir Wyndham would have cancelled’ – the ‘situation in the Punjab ...
Literature and Popular Culture in 18th-Century England 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 215 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0981 6
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Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Studies in Literature and Society in the Age of Walpole 
by Pat Rogers.
Harvester, 173 pp., £22.50, April 1985, 0 7108 0986 7
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Order from Confusion Sprung: Studies in 18th-Century Literature from Swift to Cowper 
by Claude Rawson.
Allen and Unwin, 431 pp., £30, August 1985, 0 04 800019 1
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Jonathan Swift 
edited by Angus Ross and David Woolley.
Oxford, 722 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 19 281337 4
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... Darnton described a night in Paris in the late 1730s when two apprentice printers went on the hunt for cats and staged a mock-trial before hanging them, to the raucous delight of their apprentice colleagues: the episode, as Darnton tells it, was an instance of elaborately vengeful symbolism in which workers taunted their bourgeois masters, mocked ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don Quixote with eagle nose and jaw, who had persuaded the burly Yorkshireman as they set out for the crease together not to wear batting gloves, which were ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud, 21 June 2001

Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... These biographies of John Gielgud by Jonathan Croall and Sheridan Morley are quite hard to tell apart. They are of much the same size, bear handsome pictures of the actor in old age on the front of their dust-jackets, and are, inevitably, affectionate and indulgent towards their subject. As Dirk Bogarde remarked when Croall consulted him about the work in hand, ‘everybody adored him, so the book might make rather flat reading ...

Vases, Tea Sets, Cigars, His Own Watercolours

Christopher Clark: Nazi Toffs, 9 April 2009

High Society in the Third Reich 
by Fabrice d’Almeida.
Polity, 294 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 0 7456 4312 0
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... half of the eligible members of German princely families joined the party. As the American scholar Jonathan Petropoulos observed in his study of the princes of Hessen, if princes had constituted a profession, ‘they would have rivalled physicians as the most Nazified in the Third Reich (doctors’ membership peaked in 1937 at 43 per ...

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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... from Bram Stoker’s Dracula) begins with a canny bit of Orientalism. The English solicitor Jonathan Harker is travelling to the Carpathians to meet his client Count Dracula. ‘The impression I had,’ Harker says of crossing the Danube at Budapest, ‘was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most Western of splendid bridges ...

Players, please

Jonathan Bate, 6 December 1984

The Oxford Book of War Poetry 
edited by Jon Stallworthy.
Oxford, 358 pp., £9.50, September 1984, 0 19 214125 2
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Secret Destinations 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 69 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 333 38268 4
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Fast Forward 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211967 2
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Dark Glasses 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 71 pp., £3.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2875 5
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... what better name? – ‘killed in Tunisia, Enfidaville, Feb. 1943, left £3000 to the Beaufort hunt, and directed that the incumbent of the living in his gift should be “a man who approves of hunting, shooting, and all manly sports, which are the backbone of the nation”.’ To judge from this Oxford Book, ‘Aristocrats’ is the best English poem of ...

After-Meditation

Thomas Keymer: The Girondin Wordsworth, 18 June 2020

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet who Changed the World 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 608 pp., £25, April, 978 0 00 816742 4
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William Wordsworth: A Life 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, new edition, 688 pp., £25, April, 978 0 19 881711 6
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... in the craw. The Lakers were all ‘violent and intolerant against their old opinions’, Leigh Hunt wrote during his celebrated stint in prison for seditious libel, but Wordsworth was the genius among them, and for that reason his apostasy was the most distressing. It’s hard to imagine Percy Shelley taking the trouble to write a poem to fluent, facile ...

Diary

A. Craig Copetas: Yaaaggghhhh, 25 June 1992

... that you were ‘indisputably a hugely important literary phenomenon’ and not taking any calls. Jonathan Cape’s posture is completely understandable given the current funeral atmosphere in England, but the psychic ramifications of Black Dogs are global in reach, and people we know are calling with questions. This is the reason the London Review has made ...

Flat Feet, Clever Hands

Alison Jolly: Eastern ground apes, 7 October 2004

Lowly Origin: Where, When and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up 
by Jonathan Kingdon.
Princeton, 396 pp., £22.95, May 2003, 0 691 05086 4
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... better things to do with our hands than walk on them. You and I are the eastern ground apes of Jonathan Kingdon’s Lowly Origin: suggested occupants of one of the last great blank spaces on the map of human evolution. Kingdon is a defiant eccentric in the world of anthropology. He is a wonderful artist: his illustrations in the Atlas of Evolution in ...

Planes, Trains and SUVs

Jonathan Raban: James Meek, 7 February 2008

We Are Now Beginning Our Descent 
by James Meek.
Canongate, 295 pp., £16.99, February 2008, 978 1 84195 988 7
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... own hounds, thereby becoming an early victim of, as it were, friendly fire. It’s not quite The Hunt for Red October, but the quest for Astrid/Artemis in a warring world has enough suspenseful twists and turns, set against many thousand miles of continuously changing geography, to keep the novel racing. Kellas’s travels, by ...

Trouble at the Fees Office

Jonathan Raban: Alice in Expenses Land, 11 June 2009

... cheeses indeed: glamorously remote figures who showed up late and left early when they attended hunt balls, civic receptions, Remembrance Day ceremonies and the occasional Rotary Club dinner. One could easily go for years without spotting one in the wild. But all that’s changed. Now that MPs hold weekly surgeries back in their constituencies and, like ...

History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... well, at least in the later period: Darwin but not Newton, for instance, W.T. Stead but not Jonathan Swift. The system of cross-reference goes a long way in both remedying and explaining some disparities of treatment. It means that the reader whose thirst for knowledge is not slaked by the entry first consulted can be led on a treasure ...

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