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Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen, 14 January 2002

Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
by Damien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care 
by Lee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
by Christopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... At the height of Steve McQueen’s fame in 1968, after a run of huge box-office successes – The Sand Pebble, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt – it was Robert Mitchum, his elder by 13 years and a star for more than twenty, who was voted the screen’s ‘godfather of cool’ on America’s university campuses. Both men had got to where they were by doing or seeming to do nothing ...

No more alimony, tra la la

Miranda Carter: Somerset Maugham, 17 December 2009

The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham 
by Selina Hastings.
John Murray, 614 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6554 0
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... In his lifetime, Somerset Maugham was the most successful writer in the Anglophone world. By the time he was 90, 80 million copies of his books had been sold, he was a media celebrity and a very rich man. He had also lived, as Selina Hastings says, ‘much of his life under cover’. He went to great lengths to erase evidence of his private life, systematically destroying his personal papers, asking friends to burn his letters, and instructing his executors to discourage would-be biographers ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... appease the press and distance herself from soft establishment protectors and liberal apologists. Miranda Carter astutely observes that the sensational exposure deflected mounting demands to investigate MI5 and was therefore as politically convenient as the earlier immunity had been.For weeks after Thatcher’s announcement, Blunt was hunted by the press ...

Nicky, Willy and George

Christopher Clark: The Tsar, the Kaiser and the King, 22 October 2009

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One 
by Miranda Carter.
Fig Tree, 584 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 670 91556 9
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... of war in 1914 looks rather like the culmination of a family feud. As its subtitle suggests, Miranda Carter’s intelligent, entertaining and informative book folds dynastic and political narratives into a panoramic account of Europe’s road to war. The first and most successfully handled of her themes is the saga of the three cousins, Willy, Nicky ...

Pick the small ones

Marina Warner: Girls Are Rubbish, 17 February 2005

Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World 
by Mineke Schipper.
Yale, 422 pp., £35, April 2004, 0 300 10249 6
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... heroine, Dorinda, with Hippolito, a male juvenile lead of equal springtime guilelessness. While Miranda knows only Prospero and Caliban, and barely remembers her mother, neither Dorinda nor Hippolito has ever seen any other member of the opposite sex. Hippolito finds that Prospero left behind a single book, overlooked when he drowned his library. It’s a ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... Stach. Proust, expiring at 51, got just under a thousand apiece from Jean-Yves Tadié and William Carter; Joyce, at 59, eight hundred from Richard Ellmann. Moving down the scale to medium or lightweights, there is little reduction in size. If we confine ourselves to Britain, Martin Stannard produced a thousand pages on Evelyn Waugh, who died when he was ...

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