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Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... Reveille with Beverly is a now largely forgotten 1943 film starring Ann Miller and the great Franklin Pangborn. Worked up from an equally forgotten US radio series it’s a corny but percipient tale about a spunky young DJ who’s hep to the vital Swing rhythm the kids all dig, and the stuffy station owner who wants no part of her indecorous jive ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 19 January 1989

The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... Though Woolson is equivocal at best about the talent of the woman – Ettie Macks, the Daisy Miller-like heroine of ‘The Street of the Hyacinth’ (1882), abandons her painting after the third male authority convinces her that it is ‘insufferably bad’ – she is consistent about the failings of the man, who has excellent taste, a quietly refined ...

At the Hydropathic

T.J. Binyon, 6 December 1984

Agatha Christie 
by Janet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... at the age of 15. Family relationships were complicated by the fact that their father, Frederick Miller, an American, had married his step-mother’s niece, Clara; Agatha’s step-grandmother was therefore also her great-aunt. They settled in a large villa on the outskirts of Torquay. In the morning Frederick would walk to the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, drink ...

Styling

John Lanchester, 21 October 1993

United States 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 1298 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 233 98832 7
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What Henry James Knew, and Other Essays on Writers 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Cape, 363 pp., £12.99, June 1993, 0 224 03329 8
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Sentimental Journeys 
by Joan Didion.
HarperCollins, 319 pp., £15, January 1993, 0 00 255146 2
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... Smith, Frederick Prokosch, Edith Wharton, Leonardo Sciascia, Thomas Love Peacock and Henry Miller: ‘If he often sounded like the village idiot, that was because, like Whitman, he was the rest of the village as well.’ But alongside the blessings, kicks and curses is a running lament for the novel, which Vidal sees as being in deep trouble. From 1956 ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2019, 2 January 2020

... regardless of social status. So I was still capable of being shocked in my twenties when I read in Nancy Mitford’s Pursuit of Love (a novel not I think mentioned by Laura Freeman) of the ration-dodging suppers available to the upper and middle classes, but also of delight when the Bolter’s lover turns out to be a Spanish chef capable and indeed only too ...

On Every Side a Jabbering

Clare Bucknell: Thomas Hammond’s Travels, 5 April 2018

Memoirs on the Life and Travels of Thomas Hammond, 1748-75 
edited by George E. Boulukos.
Virginia, 303 pp., £47.95, June 2017, 978 0 8139 3967 4
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... Wolton’s service at the end of June. Their route lay east and southwards, through Reims, Metz, Nancy and Dijon to Lyon. In each city they set up a riding space in the yard of an inn or on a patch of grass, publicised Wolton’s bareback tricks and tried to sell enough tickets to keep them going until the next performance. Breaking even was a ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... Here it must be that arresting phrase, the right to play. Like Beaton, the Sitwells, Cole Porter, Nancy Cunard, Noël Coward, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Lady Diana Cooper and countless other hedonistic Jazz Age types, Murphy, de Acosta and Garland took the right to play for granted, as well they might. Puritanism was an anachronism and in some renovated ...

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger, 25 October 2018

... these benefits even when they are entitled to them.(This ruling is the latest handiwork of Stephen Miller, the 33-year-old senior policy adviser who is the architect of the Muslim ban, the separation of children from their parents at the border and the drastic reduction in the number of refugees admitted into the country. He has created new regulations and ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett, 29 July 1999

Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... Kafka (the first English translation of ‘Metamorphosis’, again by Jolas), Michel Leiris, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Herbert Read, Soupault and Jolas himself. Glancing through its faded and disintegrating back issues or reading Dougald McMillan’s transition: The History of a Literary Era 1927-38 (1975), one finds an astonishing compendium of the most ...

Gielgud’s Achievements

Alan Bennett, 20 December 1979

An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... be decorated for gallantry. This book has been put together from conversations recorded by John Miller and John Powell for the BBC. They were delightful broadcasts: talking off the cuff, Gielgud rambled backwards and forwards over his life; he rarely paused and then needed only the gentlest nudge to set him off again, bowling down the years. Cut together ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... and was elected a fellow of All Souls. Thirty years later in December 1954, Evelyn Waugh wrote to Nancy Mitford: I went up to Oxford and visited my first homosexual love, Richard Pares, a don at All Souls. At 50 he is quite paralysed except his mind and voice, awaiting deterioration and death. A wife and four daughters, no private fortune. He would have been ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... Falconer, and the scrambled abolition of the office of lord chancellor. About the sport itself Nancy Mitford, no opponent of hunting, was both perceptive and unsentimental: The next day we all went out hunting. The Radletts loved animals, they loved foxes, they risked dreadful beating to unstop their earths, they read and cried over Reynard the Fox, in ...

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