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Clean Sweep

Philip Horne, 10 May 1990

Love and Garbage 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 217 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3362 7
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The Storyteller 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 246 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 15208 2
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The Chase 
by Alejo Carpentier, translated by Alfred Mac Adam.
Deutsch, 122 pp., £9.95, March 1990, 0 233 98550 6
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Aura 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp.
Deutsch, 88 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 233 98470 4
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... Klima’s fine, disconsolate novel is scarcely the cliché its blurb makes it out – ‘a moving account of the fate of the dissident artist under an oppressive regime’ – because Klima’s reason for joining a team of Prague street-sweepers is not exactly that he has been forced to do it by the state. ‘I needed to go somewhere in the morning, at least I’d now have a natural objective for a while: set out somewhere, perform whatever kind of activity and listen to whatever kind of talk, just so I don’t have to sit amidst the silence listening to the snapping of threads ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne, 21 November 1991

The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... Forty-one years after F.O. Matthiessen’s suicide, and 44 after his big book The James Family: A Group Biography, here is R.W.B. Lewis, Matthiessen’s pupil at Harvard, with one on the same subject, nearly as big. Its very title twists a touch awkwardly to avoid repeating that of its precursor, to which Lewis acknowledges a large debt. But The Jameses comes out into a different intellectual and cultural world from that which acclaimed The James Family ...

Tunnel Visions

Philip Horne, 4 August 1988

The Tunnel 
by Ernesto Sabato, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Cape, 138 pp., £10.95, June 1988, 0 224 02578 3
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Pilgrims Way 
by Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Cape, 232 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 224 02562 7
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States of Emergency 
by André Brink.
Faber, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 571 15118 3
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Moonrise, Moonset 
by Tadeusz Konwicki, translated by Richard Lourie.
Faber, 344 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 571 13609 5
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... writing my book after all’ – only for the real André Brink to go ahead and publish it. That Philip Malan should be a professor of literary theory allows Brink to develop his leading idea, which to many will seem a duff one, that there is a fruitful analogy between old-fashioned structuralism, which he sees as imposing a rigid barrier between the text ...

An Infinity of Novels

Philip Horne, 14 September 1989

A Short Guide to the World Novel: From Myth to Modernism 
by Gilbert Phelps.
Routledge, 397 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 415 00765 8
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The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Longman, 696 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 582 49040 5
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The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel 1875-1914 
by Peter Keating.
Secker, 533 pp., £30, September 1989, 0 436 23248 0
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... Anthony Trollope once proposed to write ‘a history of English prose fiction’, but ‘broke down in the task, because I could not endure the labour in addition to the other labours of my life’ – for ‘it would be necessary to read an infinity of novels.’ Such a wholesale reading of fiction takes on for many of us, as for Trollope, ‘a terrible aspect ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne, 8 December 1988

A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... As this summer wore on I became aware of wasps in my bathroom. There would be a remote drone, and then a wasp would be flying at me, at head-height, on its way to the window, there to cling, finding itself shut in. Entrants multiplied, but without stinging. They just clustered at the source of light. When not expelled or allowed issue, the wasps simply curled up and – unhurriedly, with twiddling of legs and little angry buzzings – died ...

Relations will stop at nothing

Philip Horne, 5 March 1987

The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William Dean Howells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... Henry James was a perfectionist, though not a humourless one, about his public appearance and appearances: hence the pleasure taken by certain anecdotalists in showing him out of control – of situations, conversations, himself, others. That he danced a cake-walk in 1899 and was photographed with a mouthful of doughnut intrigues us, as a treasurable departure from the magisterial dignity we mainly like to impute to him ...

Life and Work

Philip Horne, 8 May 1986

Falling apart 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 190 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 436 44087 3
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Memoirs of Many in One 
by Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray, edited by Patrick White.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 224 02371 3
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Free Agents 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 197 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13852 7
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... Life and work are in the happiest relation when the life comfortably includes the work; the relation becomes unhappy when the work threatens to preclude the life. Then we have a competition between the demands of work and the duties of the domestic life, or the impulses of the inner life. The competition may be a matter of man-hours or of values, or both: at any rate the division, once established, exposes the individual to stress ...

Train Loads of Ammunition

Philip Horne, 1 August 1985

Immoral Memories 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Herbert Marshall.
Peter Owen, 292 pp., £20, June 1985, 0 7206 0650 0
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A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema: 1930-1980 
by Robert Ray.
Princeton, 409 pp., £48.50, June 1985, 0 691 04727 8
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Suspects 
by David Thomson.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 52014 1
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Cahiers du Cinéma. Vol. I: The 1950s. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge with the British Film Institute, 312 pp., £16.95, March 1985, 0 7100 9620 8
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... In his own words ‘a queer fish’, Sergei Eisenstein declares at one point in this 1946 memoir that he worked amphibiously, by extremes. ‘I create an arbitrary and capricious flood in my films. Then I endeavour to divide this flood with the dry beats of a metronome, according to its conformity with certain principles.’ Eisenstein’s dialectic of riot and order can stand as a prime instance of the way in which others have struggled to discipline, exorcise or justify their passionate relations with films ...

Diary

Philip Horne and Danny Karlin: Million Dollar Bashers, 22 June 1989

... 5 November 1988. In the Madison suite of Sacha’s Hotel in Manchester (motto: ‘Sacha’s Only Looks Expensive’), Paul Williams recalls an unrewarding encounter with Bob Dylan: ‘But I shook his hand which was ... and this was at the beginning of the tour ... and things changed significantly during the tour ... he became more sociable, I’ve been talking to a number of people who did see him backstage later on in the tour, but, uh, his hand was very very soft, and it was ...

Taking it up again

Margaret Anne Doody, 21 March 1991

Henry James and Revision 
by Philip Horne.
Oxford, 373 pp., £40, December 1990, 0 19 812871 1
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... and by the autumn of 1908 he had to realise that his task was thankless, his art unappreciated. As Philip Horne convincingly shows us, however, James’s most powerful motives were far from mercenary. He was driven by the desire to perfect his work. The idea of the complete edition, the final perfected statement, was really his own, not his ...

‘I thirst for his blood’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James, 25 November 1999

Henry James: A Life in Letters 
edited by Philip Horne.
Penguin, 668 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7139 9126 7
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A Private Life of Henry James: Two Women and His Art 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 500 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6166 3
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... to Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea among them – nearly all the correspondence with writers that Philip Horne includes in his admirable new edition conforms to the pattern. Experienced recipients of such letters must have learned to watch for that ‘but’ and to steel themselves accordingly. Especially later in his career, James found it difficult to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Irishman’, 5 December 2019

... that is. The film is long (3 hours 29 minutes), and Scorsese, in a wonderful interview with Philip Horne (Sight and Sound, November) says how happy he and his great editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, were to be working for Netflix and not a movie studio. He was not, as Horne puts it, ‘under pressure to bring a film ...

Peaches d’antan

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James’s Autobiographies, 11 August 2016

Autobiographies: ‘A Small Boy and Others’; ‘Notes of a Son and Brother’; ‘The Middle Years’ and Other Writings 
by Henry James, edited by Philip Horne.
Library of America, 848 pp., £26.99, January 2016, 978 1 59853 471 9
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... Henry James​ liked to represent himself as hopelessly lagging behind his older brother, but he was also very good at turning childish inadequacy to imaginative account. A year after William’s death in 1910, he set out to edit a selection of William’s letters only to end up producing a remarkable self-portrait. Though he had intended to preface the letters with a short history of their family, recollection soon faltered ...

Stanley and the Activists

Philip Williamson, 13 October 1988

Baldwin and the Conservative Party: The Crisis of 1929-1931 
by Stuart Ball.
Yale, 266 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 300 03961 1
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... But there was no shortage of possible candidates. Rather, Neville Chamberlain, Hailsham, Horne and others felt inhibited or drew back from striking at Baldwin because they feared that allegations that the party leadership had been changed at the behest of newspaper proprietors might severely damage the Party and their own prospects. While not ...

Write to me

Danny Karlin, 11 January 1990

The Brownings’ Correspondence. Vol. VII: March-October 1843 
edited by Philip Kelley and Ronald Hudson.
Athlone, 429 pp., £60, December 1989, 0 485 30027 3
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... Brownings which can be found: and the task grows mountainous, vertiginous, seemingly impossible. Philip Kelley and Ronald Hudson have, nevertheless, undertaken it: an estimated twelve thousand letters in 40 volumes. It will take them at least until the end of the century. No university press is behind them: Wedgestone Press, the original publisher in the USA ...

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