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Unaccountables

Donald Davie, 7 March 1985

The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... brought up to show that the modernist impetus survived in the generation after Pound: David Jones, Anglo-Welshman; Basil Bunting, Northumbrian Englishman; and Hugh MacDiarmid, Lowland Scot. The claim for Jones seems the weakest: it is advanced by Jones’s admirers, not by the poet ...

Pure TNT

James Francken: Thom Jones, 18 February 1999

Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 312 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 9780571196562
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... of an underworld brawler. The former heavyweight champion is no less threatening in Thom Jones’s two previous collections of short stories; though kept in the wings, he is mentioned frequently by the centre-stage characters: a doctor who is ‘about to smirk’ when walking in on a couple having sex in the hospital ward is arrested by the ...

Howl

Adam Mars-Jones, 21 September 1995

Fullalove 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 231 pp., £14.99, August 1995, 0 436 20059 7
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... pieces, preferably with a direct link to violent crime, for a tabloid newspaper. His name is Norman Miller, but its similarity to Norman Mailer’s no longer gives him the pleasure it did when his pretensions, if not his values, were higher (an encounter with Mailer at the time of the Foreman-Ali fight in Zaire is one ...

On board the ‘Fiona’

Edward Said, 19 December 1991

In Search of Conrad 
by Gavin Young.
Hutchinson, 304 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 09 173524 6
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... whenever possible, actual books and ideas, that help explain the mysterious novels and stories. Norman Sherry famously does this in Conrad’s Eastern World and Conrad’s Western World, remarkable works of sleuthing rediscovery that respectively cover Conrad’s Indian and Pacific Ocean voyages, and his wanderings in Africa, Europe and Latin America. But ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones, 21 November 1985

The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... Lewis – who is told by Security: ‘Dr Lewis, I understand that you are the natural son of Sir Norman Braose.’ We meet Sir Norman kissing little Alex, who is Nan’s girl, and Sarah says: ‘Say hello to Aunt Emma, Alex.’ Emma tells little Alex she is going to stay at Nayles, ‘a marvellous house with an old family ...

Sheets

Robert Bernard Martin, 4 April 1985

The Collected Letters of William Morris. Vol. I: 1848-1880 
edited by Norman Kelvin.
Princeton, 626 pp., £50.30, April 1984, 0 691 06501 2
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... at Ely and St Albans, and St Mark’s in Venice. In September 1880 he told Georgiana Burne-Jones: ‘I have more than ever at my heart the importance for people of living in beautiful places; I mean the sort of beauty which would be attainable by all, if people could but begin to long for it. I do most earnestly desire that something more startling ...

Images of Displeasure

Nicholas Spice, 22 May 1986

If not now, when? 
by Primo Levi, translated by William Weaver.
Joseph, 331 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 7181 2668 8
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The Afternoon Sun 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 297 78822 1
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August in July 
by Carlo Gebler.
Hamish Hamilton, 188 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 241 11787 9
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... Norman Tebbit, Conservative Party Chairman, was displeased by television coverage of the American attack on Libya. British public opinion had swung so decisively against the raid, he said, because of the pictures people had seen on their television sets. Not pictures of bombed-out military installations, which would have been all right, but pictures of dead and wounded civilians ...

Termagant

Ian Gilmour: The Cliveden Set, 19 October 2000

The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 277 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 06093 7
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... Any doubts as to whether these people merit a book of their own are soon allayed by its author. Norman Rose, professor of international relations at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, is also a master of Britain’s internal relations. He has studied the archives and the memoirs, and apart from one or two very minor solecisms about Eton – he seems to think ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?, 21 August 2014

Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... last thirty years is to compare the introductions to the first and most recent editions of Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward’s Guide to the Architecture of London. In 1983, they wrote of a city in decline, its population down by about a sixth from its postwar height. ‘London is cleaner and uglier than it was at the beginning of the century; but it is ...

Complete Internal Collapse

Malcolm Vale: Agincourt, 19 May 2016

The Hundred Years War, Vol. IV: Cursed Kings 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 909 pp., £40, August 2015, 978 0 571 27454 3
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Agincourt 
by Anne Curry.
Oxford, 272 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 0 19 968101 3
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The Battle of Agincourt 
edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer.
Yale, 344 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 300 21430 7
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24 Hours at Agincourt: 25 October 1415 
by Michael Jones.
W.H. Allen, 352 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 7535 5545 3
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Agincourt: Henry V, the Man-at-Arms and the Archer 
by W.B. Bartlett.
Amberley, 447 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 1 4456 3949 9
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... in one of the blood-lettings to which Paris – described as the ‘homicidal city’ by the Norman poet Robert Blondel – was prone at this time, are shown to have been critical to the political polarisation of France into two mutually hostile zones. To speak, as Sumption does, of an ‘iron curtain’ partitioning France may be an exaggeration, but ...

Dumped

Zoë Heller: Girl Talk, 19 February 1998

Animal Husbandry 
by Laura Zigman.
Hutchinson, 304 pp., £10, January 1998, 0 09 180219 9
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Bridget Jones’ Diary 
by Helen Fielding.
Picador, 310 pp., £5.99, June 1997, 0 330 33277 5
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Does My Bum Look Big in This? 
by Arabella Weir.
Hodder, 246 pp., £5.99, March 1998, 9780340689486
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... men nervous. They produced feisty, aggressive prose. They were rude and polemical. They wrote, in Norman Mailer’s words, like ‘very tough faggots’. But somewhere in the aftermath of Seventies feminism, women’s writing lost its swagger: the cut and thrust of the Valkyrie was replaced by the flounce and preen of the ‘chick’. The pre-eminent female ...

I had to refrain

Andrew Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses, 1 December 2005

Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... along with furniture, household goods and ‘table glass of extreme beauty’, according to Burne-Jones’s son-in-law, J.W. Mackail, in his life of Morris. In other words, he was always a designer as well as an architect. Yet design was a term he hated, because it consecrated the divorce between the imagining of things and their making. So long as that ...

On the Sofa

Yohann Koshy: ‘Small Axe’, 7 January 2021

... forged a cross-generational political community. The British Black Panthers, notably Altheia Jones-LeCointe and Darcus Howe, organised a demonstration against police harassment at the Mangrove on 9 August 1970. More than a hundred protesters marched through the area chanting ‘Black power! People power!’ They met a phalanx of officers outside Notting ...

Illusionists

Norman Hampson, 20 August 1992

Diderot: A Critical Biography 
by P.N. Furbank.
Secker, 524 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 436 16853 7
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This is not a Story and Other Stories 
by Denis Diderot, translated by P.N. Furbank.
Missouri, 166 pp., £22, December 1991, 0 8262 0815 0
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Diderot: Political Writings 
edited by John Hope Mason and Robert Wokler.
Cambridge, 225 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 521 36044 7
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... neither of which had as yet imposed its predominance. The first of these, as exemplified by Tom Jones, he describes as ‘accepted illusion’. Fielding’s pretence that his story is history rather than romance takes in nobody. Everything is so crafted, with its suspense, changes of pace, ironies, coincidences and final convergences, that the reader ...

Popping

D.A.N. Jones, 2 June 1983

... with life-preservers. One asked me my name, calling me ‘sir’. When I told him, he called me ‘Norman’. Policemen always use one’s forename, once they have found it out. ‘Well, Norman,’ he said, ‘I’m afraid I’ve got to have your security card. Your security has been withdrawn ... Now, don’t get too ...

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