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Injury Time

Robert Taubman, 2 July 1981

Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... Between the three corpses dug out of the snow in Gorky Park, Moscow and the sables let loose in the snow on Staten Island at the end – ‘black on white, black on white, and then gone’ – there are connections of cause and effect such as few crime novels have ever had to cope with. Gorky Park is a long novel because it tries to deal as fully with Moscow as Simenon’s novels with Paris or Chandler’s with Los Angeles ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul, 13 May 1999

Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... He seems touchingly, but crudely, pleased, to have clocked up Hugh Thomas, Hugh and Antonia Fraser, as well as some Soho poets, in his first week. And of course, he has managed to bed one of our girls before Christmas. He is never more whining than in his suggestion – which rises to a crescendo-wail in the final pages – that Naipaul has sold out to ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... of as normal classic names: Simon, Mark, Peter, Andrew, Paul, Martin, Michael, Stephen, Richard, Robert, David. Girls’ names remained more modish: some Sarahs, Anns and Elizabeths and even some residual Marys, but also plenty of Janets, Jackies, Lisas and Debbies, who soared and plummeted through the bestseller lists in the space of a couple of ...

Veni, vidi, video

D.A.N. Jones, 18 August 1983

Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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Monimbo 
by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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Heartburn 
by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... is gradually revealed as he tells us with disgust about an American marketing executive with a Robert Redford moustache who is ordering Pimm’s in an irritating manner, spoiling the atmosphere of a pub which Croucher favours. This bounder is called Tony (Croucher’s least favourite name) and kisses a British girl ‘full on the lips’. This is ‘not ...

An Abiding Sense of the Demonic

Stefan Collini: Arnold, 20 January 2000

The Letters of Matthew Arnold. Vol. I: 1829-59 
edited by Cecil Lang.
Virginia, 549 pp., £47.50, November 1998, 0 8139 1651 8
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The Letters of Matthew Arnold. Vol. II: 1860-65 
edited by Cecil Lang.
Virginia, 505 pp., £47.95, November 1998, 0 8139 1706 9
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The Letters of Matthew Arnold. Vol. III: 1866-70 
edited by Cecil Lang.
Virginia, 483 pp., £47.95, November 1998, 0 8139 1765 4
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... I shall put together either for a pamphlet or for Fraser, a sort of résumé of the present question, as the result of what I have thought, read, and observed here, about it. I am very well and only wish I was not so lazy, but hope and believe one is less so from 40 to 50, if one lives, than at any other time of life ...

Rigging and Bending

Simon Adams: James VI & I, 9 October 2003

The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 438 pp., £20, February 2003, 0 7011 6984 2
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... The basic narrative of his reigns was established by two 19th-century historians: Patrick Fraser Tytler for the Scottish and Samuel Rawson Gardiner for the English. Both were sections of works of larger compass – History of Scotland from the Accession of Alexander III to the Union and History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak ...

Michi and Meiji

Nobuko Albery, 24 July 1986

Principles of Classical Japanese Literature 
edited by Earl Miner.
Princeton, 281 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 691 06635 3
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The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature 
by Earl Miner, Hiroko Odagiri and Robert Morrell.
Princeton, 570 pp., £39.50, March 1986, 0 691 06599 3
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Mitford’s Japan: The Memoirs and Recollections, 1866-1906, of Algernon Bertram Mitford, the First Lord Redesdale 
edited by Hugh Cortazzi.
Athlone, 270 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 485 11275 2
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... Shortly before this, Sir Hugh had edited in English A Diplomat’s Wife in Japan by Mary Crawford Fraser, which, published in 1899, its two volumes boasting a formidable 905 pages, had long been out of print and forgotten. This is an enchanting book, which I could recommend as enthusiastically as I would Madame de la Tour du Pin’s Mémoires, venturing to ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... unionists. Nevertheless, some revisionist historians have recently shown that William Wallace and Robert Bruce, icons of Scotland’s War of Independence against England in the late 13th and early 14th century, became unionist heroes in 19th-century Scottish culture. Without Wallace and Bruce, so Victorian Scots argued, Scotland would have been conquered by ...

Montale’s Eastbourne

Michael Hofmann, 23 May 1991

The Coastguard’s House 
by Eugenio Montale, translated by Jeremy Reed.
Bloodaxe, 223 pp., £7.95, December 1990, 1 85224 100 4
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... Montale poem to make any impression on me was ‘Eastbourne’ in the harsh translation by G.S. Fraser in the New Directions Selected Poems: ‘God Save the King’ the trumpets moan and groan From a pavilion high on piles That gape to let the sea through when it comes To wash out wet Horse-hoofmarks on the sand Of this sea-shore. Coldly the wind claws ...
... Sun. (At least this was Rowland’s version of what was happening – Murdoch has denied it.) Robert Maxwell is trying to buy a 10 per cent share in Fleet Holdings from the, Australian tycoon Robert Holmes a Court for £15.4 million, while another bidder – it’s not clear whether or not he is a rival to Maxwell ...

Boys will be soldiers

Brian Harrison, 20 October 1983

Sure and Stedfast: A History of the Boys’ Brigade, 1883-1984 
edited by John Springhall.
Collins, 304 pp., £10, June 1983, 0 00 434280 1
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... no doubt partly because birth control was now making children more scarce. The 1880s also saw Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, not to mention the remarkable growth of the Boys’ Own Paper. And not only was literature being specially produced for children: children were at last being seen as ...

From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... embrasse, mal étreint. His tribute to the organisational genius of Lord Woolton and Sir Michael Fraser is diminished by the extravagant encomia for Anthony Barber and Cecil Parkinson. We cannot yet write the history of post-Thatcherite Britain, but perhaps it is not too soon to start summarising the characteristics of its prehistory (roughly 55 BC to ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Self-Exposure at the Football Terrace, 2 September 1982

... last night with Malcolm and Kitty. We took with us our enterprising and appealing grandson Benjie Fraser, aged 22, and his enchanting girlfriend, still at St Paul’s. She is the daughter of Caroline (née Blackwood) by her second husband, a Polish musician. Caroline was married earlier to Lucian [sic] Freud and by her third marriage to the illustrious ...

Her pen made the first move

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 7 July 1994

Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 418 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 9780701161378
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Vintage, 285 pp., £6.99, March 1994, 0 09 942461 4
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The Sickroom in Victorian Fiction: The Art of Being Ill 
by Miriam Bailin.
Cambridge, 169 pp., £30, April 1994, 0 521 44526 4
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... Brontë was not yet 21, she submitted a sample of her work to the reigning poet laureate, Robert Southey, together with a letter in which she apparently confided her ambition ‘to be for ever known’ as a poet. Three months later, Southey replied. Though he acknowledged her gift and encouraged her to continue writing ‘for its own sake’, he also ...

Modernisms

Frank Kermode, 22 May 1986

Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement 
by C.K. Stead.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 333 37457 6
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The Myth of Modernism and 20th-century Literature 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Harvester, 216 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7108 1002 4
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The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature and the Arts 
by Roger Shattuck.
Faber, 362 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 571 12071 7
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... The antiquity of this figure is the subject of a very learned and also very amusing book by Robert Merton; the received wisdom is that it goes at least as far back as the 12th century. So there is nothing very modern about worrying about what it means to be modern, and even if you think that being modern requires a total rejection of the past, like ...

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