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Diners-out

E.S. Turner, 3 July 1986

Augustus Hare: Victorian Gentleman 
by Malcolm Barnes.
Allen and Unwin, 240 pp., £20, May 1986, 9780049201002
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Midway on the Waves 
by James Lees-Milne.
Faber, 248 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 571 13723 7
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... of an all-seeing eye, Augustus seems to have sensed that God was a gentleman, for according to Malcolm Barnes’s biography, he asked: ‘Does God look through the keyhole?’ It has to be said that as an author and gentleman Hare would certainly have relished some fulsome adulation: instead of which he was accused, on the strength of his six-volume ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... Not long after Ezra Pound, the precocious Djuna Barnes arrived in Paris already equipped with a style derived from the Jacobean dramatists and French post-symbolist poets, and so with as good a claim as any to be counted among the founders of Modernism. In 1936 T. S. Eliot warmly sponsored Nightwood, and one has heard since that her vision of Hell can be traced as an influence in Nathanael West and Malcolm Lowry, and her sort of Gothic fantasy in John Hawkes ...
Cross Channel 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 211 pp., £13.99, January 1996, 0 224 04301 3
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... did interpretation have to end just there, what was to stop it going on indefinitely? On Julian Barnes, who is so addicted to the business or game of interpretations, the question does not seem to weigh so heavily. We perhaps misunderstand Barnes if we take him to be profoundly worried by hermeneutic doubts: by the ...

Sausages and Higher Things

Patrick Parrinder, 11 February 1993

The Porcupine 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 138 pp., £9.99, November 1992, 0 224 03618 1
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... source for this epigraph to the best-known British novel of the Eighties set in Eastern Europe, Malcolm Bradbury’s Rates of Exchange. The Soviet Empire in those distant days was scarcely conceivable to English novelists except as a setting for a comedy or a thriller – two genres which tend to lionise the Englishman abroad, and to subtly belittle the ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

Metroland 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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Creator 
by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... work (Setting the World on Fire) the narrative hinges on the crucial Suez-Hungary year, 1956-57. Malcolm Bradbury – though he as yet has written no novel on the theme – has expounded at length his agreement that 1956 is the year in which Trillingesque liberal humanism went under to the new barbarism. A.S. Byatt (The Virgin in the Garden) found a slightly ...

Turns of the Screw

Hugh Barnes, 7 August 1986

Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... and to be distinguished from the campus novels (more academic, not so upper-class) of, say, Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge. Miles Tattershall lectures, with moderate success, in 17th-century literature at Cambridge. He, too, is conventional, in so far as conventions exist for fictional men of letters. Like Nick Jenkins in Anthony Powell’s sequence ...
The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James Goldsmith: The Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... John Wells twice, once in Harper’s and once in the Times; Christopher Booker in the Spectator; Malcolm Muggeridge in the Daily Telegraph; Candida Lycett-Green (who was in love with Ingrams at Oxford, speaks adoringly of him in this book, and once worked for the Eye) in the Standard. Nor are the paper’s smallest private squabbles denied space in the ...

Wounds

Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

Hemingway 
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... which, as Kenneth Lynn cogently expresses it, is not ‘a haunted Nick Adams, or a crippled Jake Barnes, or a hollowed-out Frederic Henry, but an overbearing know-it-all named Ernest Hemingway’. Max Eastman said Hemingway had false hair on his chest. Gertrude Stein, in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, called his courage into question. Of course, there ...

Not Not To Be

Malcolm Schofield: Aristotle’s legacy, 17 February 2005

A New History of Western Philosophy. Vol. I: Ancient Philosophy 
by Anthony Kenny.
Oxford, 341 pp., £17.99, June 2005, 0 19 875273 3
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... work on its uses in the metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle. On a broader canvas, Jonathan Barnes’s The Pre-Socratic Philosophers (1979) painted a virtuoso picture of the whole development of early Greek philosophy that took Owen’s Parmenides as its fulcrum. Nobody has yet produced a more convincing rival story shifting the focus elsewhere. Kenny ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my contemporaries’), George Herbert, Vaughan, Crabbe, Hopkins, Whitman, Campion, Morris, Christina Rossetti, John Crowe Ransom, Wyndham Lewis, Louis ...

A History

Allan Massie, 19 February 1981

The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... but not, I think, ambiguous relationship – a Hemingway friendship again, like that of Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton in Fiesta. Kennaway discovered the affair while he and his family were living in a gloomy Alpine villa. Though he had been by no means faithful to Susan, and had indeed insisted on telling her of his various affairs (which he justified as ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... supermarket’ in which an ‘astonishing variety of styles’ are on offer, and links this with Malcolm Bradbury’s similar picture of ‘a great shopping mall world of pluri-culture’. This sanctions Stevenson’s dragnet; but of course such images allow him to produce the very supermarket he claims to be merely finding. His lack of selectivity only ...

Poet at the Automat

Eliot Weinberger: Charles Reznikoff, 22 January 2015

... his second called the poems ‘sordid, with an emphasis on the sore’. The third, by Malcolm Cowley, said that he was ‘astigmatic’, ‘an ecstatic with a defect in his voice, who stammers at the moment of greatest feeling’. A line in Cowley’s review – ‘He is unable to focus, and lines of splendid verse are lost to sight among low ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... young mind might well see any writer over the age of thirty as indistinguishable from a bag lady. Malcolm Bradbury is now a veteran novelist, something that makes his deft handling of thirty-years-younger Francis Jay the more remarkable. Ask who the leading young British novelists are and you may well be told Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, William Boyd, Julian ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... a beautiful man, smoked cigars, and was pursued from race to race by a gaggle of female fans. (Sir Malcolm Campbell of Bluebird fame called her – apparently without irony – ‘the greatest sportsman I know’.) Special ‘friends’ included the lesbian actresses Tallulah Bankhead and Gwen Farrar. Carstairs, the Evening News reported in 1925, could ...

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