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It isn’t your home

Toril Moi: Sarraute gets her due, 10 September 2020

Nathalie Sarraute: A Life Between 
by Ann Jefferson.
Princeton, 425 pp., £34, August 2020, 978 0 691 19787 6
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... as Finnegans Wake), as well as early texts by Samuel Beckett, Kay Boyle, H.D., Laura Riding and Paul Bowles. Sarraute found a kindred spirit in Jolas, someone who shared her own aesthetic sensibilities. She would remain a lifelong friend, and later became Sarraute’s translator. Jolas and her friends must have inspired Sarraute, for although she wrote ...

Resistance Days

Derek Mahon, 25 April 2002

... Nous nous aimerons tous et nos enfants riront De la légende noire où pleure un solitaire. Paul Eluard The sort of snailmail that can take a week but suits my method, pre-informatique, I write this from the St Louis, rm 14 – or type it, rather, on the old machine, a portable, that I take when I migrate in ‘the run-up to Christmas’. Here I sit ...

Aviators and Movie Stars

Patricia Lockwood: Carson McCullers, 19 October 2017

Stories, Plays and Other Writings 
by Carson McCullers.
Library of America, 672 pp., £33.99, January 2017, 978 1 59853 511 2
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... while housed such diverse inhabitants as McCullers, W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Gypsy Rose Lee, Paul and Jane Bowles and Richard Wright. (Auden seems to have been an especially terrible housemate, complaining about excessive use of toilet paper and telling people their colds weren’t physical but mental.) Carson was one ...

I Could Sleep with All of Them

Colm Tóibín: The Mann Family, 6 November 2008

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story 
by Andrea Weiss.
Chicago, 302 pp., £14.50, May 2008, 978 0 226 88672 5
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... in Brooklyn with Carson McCullers, Gypsy Rose Lee, Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, Chester Kallman, Paul Bowles and Jane Bowles, among others, he wrote in his diary: ‘What an epic one could write about this!’ Soon Golo too moved in, having escaped from the Nazis by walking over the Pyrenees with his uncle ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... Red Indians and to jazz, which is the one original flower of American civilisation.’ The writer Paul Engle said of Ginsberg: ‘He succeeded in doing the heretofore utterly impossible – bringing dirt to India.’ Baker gives us a glimpse of Ginsberg as seen through the eyes of the founder of Krittibas, Sunil Gangopadhyay: They were astonished to see ...

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Andrew O’Hagan: If something happens to me…, 5 May 2005

... She looked away and crumpled up the paper and put it on the fire. I was ten years old when John Paul II came to power. My granny instantly adored him, loving his feudal side without reservation and simply ignoring the freedom-upholding aspect. The only thing she was truly agnostic about was politics: she never mentioned that, and her only concern when it ...

Perfect Light

Jenny Diski, 9 July 1992

Diana: Her True Story 
by Andrew Morton.
Michael O’Mara, 165 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85479 191 5
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 285 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 7475 1164 0
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Antonia White: Diaries 1958-1979 
edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 352 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 09 470660 3
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... as exciting as we were led to believe. I’m thinking here particularly of a recent interview with Paul McCartney where he explained that when he and Mick smoked what he described charmingly as ‘pot’ together (after dinner, with a nice glass of wine apparently) all that happened was that they ‘discussed art’. I remember ’68, and let me assure ...

What Is He Supposed To Do?

David Cannadine, 8 December 1994

The Prince of Wales 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 620 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 91016 3
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... the media. As their marriage deteriorated, and as Charles took up again with Camilla Parker-Bowles, it is as easy to understand why the Princess encouraged her friends to talk to Andrew Morton as it is to understand that the Prince was horrified and humiliated when Diana: Her True Story appeared. For someone as lonely, insecure and unhappy as ...


Iain Sinclair: Thatcher in Gravesend, 9 May 2013

... immaculately planned funerary procession, by limousine and gun-carriage, out of Westminster to St Paul’s Cathedral, had the appearance, on the news feeds streaming unwitnessed into the cafés and pubs of the Thames Gateway, of a triumphalist police outing, a reunion for veterans of the Battle of Orgreave. A reunion attended, in true British fashion, by a ...

On Needing to Be Looked After

Tim Parks: Beckett’s Letters, 1 December 2011

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-56 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 791 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 521 86794 8
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... there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, and another of birds,’ he quotes St Paul), these letters contain some extraordinary descriptions of birds and beasts. From 1949 on he and Suzanne rented rooms near Ussy-sur-Marne, then bought a patch of land, then in 1953 built a small house on it. Beckett’s pleasure in digging the ground to ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... in the recent RA exhibition is hard to understand. 17 January. The Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles come to The Lady in the Van. Normally royalty is guaranteed to put a frost on an audience but their presence peps things up and it’s a very good house. This is because, unlike most royal persons, the Prince of Wales actually laughs and loudly too and so ...

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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... in Kenneth Macpherson’s 1930 avant-garde masterpiece Borderline, starring H.D., Bryher and Paul Robeson. He plays the adulterous husband of H.D., who is likewise visually transfixing. Later, he would become a popular Bay Area psychic, a friend to Allen Ginsberg and the Beats and the experimental filmmaker James Broughton and a prominent gay political ...

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