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The Fame Game

Alan Brien, 6 September 1984

by Steven Aronson.
Hutchinson, 198 pp., £5.95, May 1984, 0 09 156251 1
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Automatic Vaudeville 
by John Lahr.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 434 40188 9
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Broadway Babies: The People who made the American Musical 
by Ethan Mordden.
Oxford, 244 pp., £19, August 1984, 0 19 503345 0
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... Brits still call the Yank. For a century, in boys’ comics, thrillers, magazine humour, music-hall sketches and pre-war films, the American was a loud-mouthed, boastful vulgarian who always claimed that whatever he had must be the biggest, the rarest or the most expensive in the world. The Yank was never satisfied with a fair share, we thought, and I well ...

North Korea’s Bomb

Norman Dombey, 2 February 2017

... of nuclear reactors were declassified, to copy the British Magnox reactor design used at Calder Hall in Cumbria. The public perception of Calder Hall was that it was a civil reactor used to generate electricity. In fact it was designed to produce plutonium for Britain’s nuclear weapons programme. North Korea intended ...

The Henry James Show

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 7 January 1988

Henry James: A Life 
by Leon Edel.
Collins, 740 pp., £25, July 1987, 0 00 217870 2
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The Complete Notebooks of Henry James 
edited by Leon Edel and Lyall Powers.
Oxford, 662 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 19 503782 0
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... by a touch of incestuous and homo-erotic feeling. Writing in the New Republic in 1979, Richard Hall faulted the five-volume biography for manifesting ‘a peculiar timidity at the centre of the work’. What was missing from Edel’s account, according to Hall, was not so much James’s ‘homo-erotic bent’ – Edel ...

Received Accents

Peter Robinson, 20 February 1986

Collected Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 351 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 19 211974 5
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Selected and New Poems: 1939-84 
by J.C. Hall.
Secker, 87 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 436 19052 4
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Burning the knife: New and Selected Poems 
by Robin Magowan.
Scarecrow Press, 114 pp., £13.50, September 1985, 0 8108 1777 2
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Englishmen: A Poem 
by Christopher Hope.
Heinemann, 41 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 434 34661 6
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Selected Poems: 1954-1982 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 175 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 436 16754 9
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Writing Home 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 19 211970 2
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... This voice, when it says, ‘One is ignored,’ turns itself away from the door of its own self. Kenneth Allott admitted to feeling put off by the fineness of ‘Tramontana at Lerici’ when anthologising the poem in 1962. Understandably, though mistakenly, he wrote that ‘human beings and their awkwardnesses have been squeezed out.’ Yet there is a world ...

Gravity’s Python

Raymond Williams, 4 December 1980

From Fringe to Flying Circus 
by Roger Wilmut.
Eyre Methuen, 264 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 413 46950 6
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... to have even this broadly adulatory record of the last twenty years of – what? It seems that Kenneth Tynan first called it satire. Others have called ‘it’ almost everything, but the only reasonably constant factor, of any importance, is a specific conjunction of university revue with popular television. Yet that can then override the obvious ...


David Craig, 6 July 1989

A Search for Scotland 
by R.F. Mackenzie.
Collins, 280 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 00 215185 5
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A Claim of Right for Scotland 
edited by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 202 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6022 4
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The Eclipse of Scottish Culture 
by Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull.
Polygon, 121 pp., £6.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6000 3
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The Bird Path: Collected Longer Poems 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 239 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 245 2
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Travels in the Drifting Dawn 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 160 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 240 1
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... the end of his life, gauging morale and wondering what system could help young folk to flourish. Kenneth White, a Glaswegian based in Brittany and professor at the Sorbonne, is for ever wondering, as he walks the beaches of Western Europe, which place is home for him. Beveridge and Turnbull, young academics (I presume), undertake what they call a ...
Rembrandt by Himself 
edited by Christopher White and Quentin Buvelot.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781857092523
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Rembrandt: The Painter at Work 
by Ernst van de Wetering.
Amsterdam University Press, 340 pp., £52.50, November 1997, 90 5356 239 7
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... Gallery basement, seventy-odd likenesses of the artist have been brought together. Its central hall, holding more than a dozen of the late self-portraits, compactly presents the case to be made for Rembrandt. The appeal of these paintings stems from our capacity to empathise with the subject. As we turn to the portraits, the subject’s eyes draw ours into ...

Squealing to Survive

John Lahr: Clancy was here, 19 July 2018

Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos 
by Clancy Sigal.
Icon, 352 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 1 78578 439 2
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The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years 
by Clancy Sigal.
Bloomsbury, 274 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 4088 8580 2
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... becoming part of the talentocracy he was drawn to. Laurence Olivier commissioned him (along with Kenneth Tynan) to write a musical on nuclear war; the Spectator appointed him film critic, and his friend David Astor got him permanent residence and made him a regular reporter on the Observer. Lessing and Sigal inspired and tormented each other in equal ...

London Lefties

Paul Foot, 17 September 1987

If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it 
by Ken Livingstone.
Collins, 367 pp., £12, August 1987, 0 00 217770 6
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A Taste of Power: The Politics of Local Economics 
edited by Maureen Mackintosh and Hilary Wainwright.
Verso, 441 pp., £22.95, July 1987, 0 86091 174 8
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... in the crown’. All sorts of ambitious Tories showed an interest in and support for the GLC. Kenneth Baker wrote a pamphlet demanding that the GLC become more of a ‘strategic authority for London’. Patrick Jenkin wrote in favour of the new Tory creation, and its expansion. Then, in 1981, Labour regained the GLC. It became clear at once that the new ...

Bypass Variegated

Rosemary Hill: Osbert Lancaster, 21 January 2016

Osbert Lancaster’s Cartoons, Columns and Curlicues: ‘Pillar to Post’, ‘Homes Sweet Homes’, ‘Drayneflete Revealed’ 
by Osbert Lancaster.
Pimpernel, 304 pp., £40, October 2015, 978 1 910258 37 8
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... there is no attempt at fairness, which is fatal to humour. Like his friend and contemporary Kenneth Clark, Lancaster felt the Edwardians’ horrified fascination with the Victorians in general and the Gothic Revival in particular, that ‘crazy antiquarianism’ which began with Ruskin, ‘whose distinction it was to express in prose of incomparable ...

What did he think he was?

Tom Shippey: Ælfred the Great, 10 May 2018

Ælfred’s Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age 
by Max Adams.
Head of Zeus, 509 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78408 031 0
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... a Q-Celtic language, but although the issue has long been disputed, the great Celtic philologist Kenneth Jackson was quite sure – on the evidence of names like Pittenweem and Pitlochry – that it was P-Celtic, though he thought it was more like Gaulish than Welsh or Cornish or Cumbric. The point is important historically, because it indicates that there ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... and his other interests, he became a spokesman on the tribulations of the Ovalteens. At the Albert Hall in 1949, he followed the Duke of Edinburgh and Clement Attlee in speaking at the Daily Mail Youth Forum – an audience of six thousand young people from around the world. He described himself as ‘a middle-aged old fogey’ (he was 46). ‘If Britain’s ...

Early Hillhead Man

Paul Addison, 6 May 1982

Churchill’s Political Philosophy 
by Martin Gilbert.
Oxford, 119 pp., £8, November 1981, 0 19 726005 5
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Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years 
by Martin Gilbert.
Macmillan, 279 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32564 8
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Churchill and de Gaulle 
by François Kersaudy.
Collins, 476 pp., £12.95, September 1981, 0 00 216328 4
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The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart 
edited by Kenneth Young.
Macmillan, 800 pp., £30, October 1981, 0 333 18480 7
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Churchill’s Indian Summer 
by Anthony Seldon.
Hodder, 667 pp., £14.95, October 1981, 0 340 25456 4
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... top civil servants like Maud at the Ministry of Health, Newsam at the Home Office, or Plowden and Hall at the Treasury. Immersed in the question of who was who at Agriculture and Fisheries, one begins to wonder where Churchill fits in, and why Mr Seldon feels he was such an admirable prime minister. True, he set the tone by his initial appointments, but time ...

Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton, 24 April 1997

... scorn. Thus, when the headless chicken stuff was going on, or when the Tories wrapped the Albert Hall in a blue ribbon, it was hard not to hope that our disdainful visitor was spending the day somewhere else. But where? On every side, there seems to be some Toytown farce in progress. What, for instance, would Gore make of Christine Hamilton? What would he ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... and executive suites dreamed up by Rayne and financed by the Church Commissioners. The Rev. Kenneth Bartlett, who became vicar of St James’s Church in Sussex Gardens in 1963, infuriated the Commissioners by likening them to the slum landlord, Peter Rachman. Rachman, Bartlett said, had made life difficult for a few hundred people, the Church ...

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