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Mummies

Ian Hamilton, 16 June 1983

Ancient Evenings 
by Norman Mailer.
Macmillan, 709 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 333 34025 6
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... His bushy hair is white and cropped more conservatively than in the past ... his eyes are clear and surprisingly blue. He moves with the grace of the boxer he has sometimes pretended to be ... his ample waist looks solid rather than soft ... He is remarkably fit for a man of 60, which is what he became last Jan 31 ...

Diary

Norman Buchan: Press Freedom v. the Home Office, 19 March 1987

... with government. Their case and the Government’s response would be published in the form of a White Paper and subject to an annual debate in the House of Commons. This would fulfil the Select Committee’s recommendation of an annual ‘State of the Arts’ White Paper and Debate. We have redefined and strengthened the ...

Po-210 as a Poison

Norman Dombey: Death by Polonium, 2 August 2007

Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB 
by Alex Goldfarb, with Marina Litvinenko.
Simon and Schuster, 369 pp., £18.99, June 2007, 978 1 84737 081 5
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... It was a poisoning without a poison. What we didn’t like from the start was the low level of white blood cells. It was as if his immune system was switched off.’ The patient was Roman Tsepov, who was, O’Halloran continued, in the security and bodyguard business. In the 1990s, he’d guarded the city’s powerful mayor and even the local man ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans, 3 June 2004

The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... counterpart. The ruling class of England, and much of the rest of Britain, was re-created by the Norman Conquest. Most of the nobly born have at one time or another sought to find progenitors among the Companions of the Conqueror, and the words ‘noble’, ‘gentle’ and ‘aristocrat’ themselves come from French. Within two decades, the Conquest had ...

Ejected Gentleman

Norman Page, 7 May 1987

John Galsworthy’s Life and Art: An Alien’s Fortress 
by James Gindin.
Macmillan, 616 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 333 40812 8
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... reflected that, while kind hearts and simple faith were excellent things in their way, a hint of Norman blood would do no harm. Like Joyce, writing obsessively about the Ireland he had quitted, he achieved fame as a chronicler of the family, the institution from which he fought a long campaign to escape. Slightly inconsistently, he married, after a long ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J. Michael Lennon’s ‘double life’ of Norman Mailer and offer that doubleness back as subjective criticism. Mailer, after all, gave us the non-fiction novel, Lennon gives us the pseudo-objective biography, so why can’t I offer the confessional review? On the afternoon of 10 April 2007 I was on a ...

Four Poems

Hugo Williams, 2 November 2006

... a window in its polished surface. I would set my foot on that slick of black ice, its luminous white line would lead me before long over the horizon of my father’s head. The Mouthful Flights of steel-tipped arrows pass across my father’s face as he looks around the table. His widow’s peak is pulled down like a ...

Arms and Saddam

Norman Dombey, 24 October 1991

... have been thoroughly damaged and will not be effective for quite some number of years,’ General Norman Schwarzkopf said on US television on 20 January, four days after the beginning of the air war in support of the liberation of Kuwait. Iraq’s ability to build nuclear weapons, he stressed, was at an end. The reactors in question were two small research ...

Hugging the cats

John Bayley, 14 June 1990

Poems 
by Gay Clifford.
188 pp., £14.99, May 1990, 0 241 12976 1
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Selected Poems 1940 – 1989 
by Allen Curnow.
Viking, 209 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 670 83007 0
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Collected Poems and Selected Translations 
by Norman Cameron, edited by Warren Hope and Jonathan Barker.
Anvil, 160 pp., £14.95, May 1990, 0 85646 202 0
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Collected Poems 
by Enoch Powell.
Bellew, 198 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 947792 36 8
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... saw her in terms of ‘belongings in apple-pie order, labelled, folded, scented and camphored’, white damask napkins and ‘the heavy white china plates she always got from Antinori in Rome’. Lovers may have noticed these things too, more than their owner perhaps, as is implied in the very svelte poem called ‘Notes on ...

Hellmouth

Michael André Bernstein: Norman Rush, 22 January 2004

Mortals 
by Norman Rush.
Cape, 715 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 224 03709 9
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... Norman Rush’s first novel, Mating (1991), is narrated by an unnamed 32-year-old female doctoral student in nutritional anthropology. It takes the cherished theme of a brilliant and independent woman’s search for a male partner worthy of her, and transplants it to a utopian matriarchal community in Botswana. For a man to recast Pride and Prejudice as a modern, feminist love affair, and then to set it in Africa, is a bold move, and neither the book’s reworking of the conventions of first-person narrative nor its relentlessly artificial language seem to owe anything to Rush’s immediate predecessors or contemporaries ...

ODQ

Richard Usborne, 24 January 1980

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 
Oxford, 908 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780192115607Show More
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... my non-location of which has now been irritating me for weeks. From a little blue book, about a Norman baron dying. I only remember bits, and probably misremember those: In his chamber, weak and dying, Was a Norman baron lying … I couldn’t find this in Scott (school prize), nor in Kipling’s Collected Verse. I have ...

Seeing Things

John Bayley, 18 July 1996

The World, the World 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 293 pp., £18.99, April 1996, 0 224 04234 3
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Omnibus: ‘A Dragon Apparent’, ‘Golden Earth’, ‘A Goddess in the Stones’ 
by Norman Lewis.
Picador, 834 pp., £9.99, January 1996, 0 330 33780 7
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... round their penises. He looks like a sales rep, come to show them a new line in tupperware. But Norman Lewis has always maintained a low profile when it comes to exploring. His admirable series of travel books and travel novels, informative, neatly written, and full of a dry detached humour, make Lawrence of Arabia or Bruce Chatwin, even Wilfred Thesiger ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... symposium ‘on the Negro’. (Symposia on the Negro were popular in the 1960s, helping to keep white liberal panellists occupied and furrowed until the ferocious later phase of Black Power made them all squirm.) Kazin had been unable to attend the symposium itself but, never one to miss a party, popped into the reception being thrown by Commentary’s ...

See the Sights!

Gillian Darley: Rediscovering Essex, 1 November 2007

The Buildings of England: Essex 
by James Bettley and Nikolaus Pevsner.
Yale, 939 pp., £29.95, May 2007, 978 0 300 11614 4
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... and Basildon to write inevitably self-congratulatory entries. No doubt he would have invited Norman Foster to provide one for Stansted. Pevsner’s own six or eight-week journey around the county was made slightly less uncomfortable than it might have been, and even more economical, by the use of a caravan, loaned by his eccentric editor at the ...

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