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Dude, c’est moi

Edmund Gordon: Padgett Powell, 3 February 2011

The Interrogative Mood 
by Padgett Powell.
Profile, 164 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84668 366 4
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... to spend a life; the extent to which a country property would be devalued if the cartoonist Robert Crumb were to move into the vicinity; and the provenance of urban legends. These subjects, though only transiently present, are neither insubstantial nor incidental to the book’s success. And behind each of them lurks the character of the ...

Test Case

Robert Taubman, 3 September 1981

July’s People 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Cape, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 0 224 01932 5
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The Company of Women 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 291 pp., £6.50, July 1981, 0 224 01955 4
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Zuckerman Unbound 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 225 pp., £5.95, August 1981, 0 224 01974 0
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... in the novel. The scene has already been satirised as much as any in modern times, and Mary Gordon only adds some amusing lines. Father Cyprian and the trendy Columbia set are at least figures exaggerated to make a calculated effect. The effect of some other parts of the novel seems disturbingly miscalculated, or else just uncalculated, as when the ...

Mallarmé gets a life

Barbara Johnson, 18 August 1994

Mallarmé: A Throw of the Dice 
by Gordon Millan.
Secker, 389 pp., £16.99, March 1994, 9780436270963
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... and deconstruction. We have had analyses of his work by Charles Mauron, Jean-Pierre Richard, Robert Greer Cohn, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Leo Bersani, Malcolm Bowie and others. It might seem surprising, therefore, not to find a single full-length biography published between Henri Mondor’s 1941 Vie de Mallarmé and ...

Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 17 March 1988

... there is nothing Scottish about any of them. Percy Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music Like Robert Louis Stevenson living in Samoa, like George MacBeth living in Sheffield, like Ian Brady living in Greater Manchester, I am a Scotsman living in exile; my father was the first of the family to fly South – my grandfather stayed, a Professor in ...

Feast of St Thomas

Frank Kermode, 29 September 1988

Eliot’s New Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Oxford, 356 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 19 811727 2
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The Letters of T.S. Eliot 
edited by Valerie Eliot.
Faber, 618 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 571 13621 4
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The Poetics of Impersonality 
by Maud Ellmann.
Harvester, 207 pp., £32.50, January 1988, 0 7108 0463 6
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T.S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism 
by Richard Shusterman.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £19.95, February 1988, 0 7156 2187 4
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‘The Men of 1914’: T.S. Eliot and Early Modernism 
by Erik Svarny.
Open University, 268 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 335 09019 2
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Eliot, Joyce and Company 
by Stanley Sultan.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 504880 6
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The Savage and the City in the Work of T.S. Eliot 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 251 pp., £25, December 1987, 9780198128694
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T.S. Eliot: The Poems 
by Martin Scofield.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 30147 5
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... Eliot’s poetry was rooted in private aspects of his life has now been accepted,’ says Lyndall Gordon in the Foreword to her second volume of biographical rooting among these aspects. This acceptance, which she evidently approves, has undoubtedly occurred, as a root through the enormous heap of books about the poet, now augmented by the centenary of his ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... Mark Pearce, her second husband, and Alexander, the couple’s son, born in 1983. As Edmund Gordon says towards the beginning of his biography, Carter was never so widely acclaimed in life as she would be in the weeks and years after her death. The tributes were long, sometimes fulsome, always affectionate, and full of great table talk and funny stories ...

Down among the press lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

The Life and Death of the Press Barons 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 288 pp., £12.50, December 1982, 0 436 06811 7
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... Not while Rupert’s still around. And while Rupert’s still around (and Sir James, and Robert, and Tiny – and maybe even Victor: ‘I have the papers in which to give my views, but I think the House of Lords will be better’), reports of the ‘death of the press barons’ are somewhat exaggerated. The British certainly like to give the ...

Wallflower

Anthony Quinn, 29 August 1991

Varying Degrees of Hopelessness 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 0 241 13153 7
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Slide 
by James Buchan.
Heinemann, 135 pp., £12.99, June 1991, 0 434 07499 3
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Alma Cogan 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 210 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 436 20009 0
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... and into bed. Crushed, Isabel transfers her affections to the more diffident American lecturer, Robert, and dithers prissily around him until he succumbs – unfortunately to Pol, again. There is nothing rivalrous in any of this, merely a contrast of tactics. Pol is the brazen adventurer to Isabel’s cloistered romantic, and treats men with a disdain that ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... have a large collection of Monets (say) than that Buffalo University should have a collection of Robert Graves manuscripts (say). I view with unconcern the drift of British manuscripts to America, where our language is spoken and our literature studied. So one must travel to California to read, for example, Amis’s several unpublished novels: the ...

What a Woman!

J.L. Nelson: Joan of Arc, 19 October 2000

Joan of Arc 
by Mary Gordon.
Weidenfeld, 168 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 297 64568 4
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Joan of Arc: A Military Leader 
by Kelly DeVries.
Sutton, 242 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7509 1805 5
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The Interrogation of Joan of Arc 
by Karen Sullivan.
Minnesota, 208 pp., £30, November 1999, 0 8166 3267 7
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... necessary for her to come into France . . . to raise the siege of Orléans . . . and to go to Robert de Beaudricourt in the town of Vaucouleurs, the captain of that place, that he would give her people to go with her.’ DeVries assigns priority to Joan’s experience of the ‘voice’, and suggests that ‘Burgundian troops’ burned the church at ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... great-grandsons,’ Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe write without a trace of irony. One of these was Robert Hanson, the great James’s father, through whose veins the entrepreneurial spirit pulsed so fiercely that he stored other people’s furniture in a warehouse next to a garage packed with petrol. One day, the whole thing went up in smoke, which was ...

Cardinal’s Hat

Robert Blake, 23 January 1986

Cardinal Manning: A Biography 
by Robert Gray.
Weidenfeld, 366 pp., £16.95, August 1985, 0 297 78674 1
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... his opportunity. He cheated of course, as he usually did. He cheated about Dr Arnold and General Gordon, though not about Florence Nightingale. He cheated about Manning, and it is his portrait of Manning rather than Purcell’s which has coloured the Cardinal’s memory ever since. Why did Manning’s friends do nothing about his reputation after the ...

Arty Party

Hal Foster: From the ‘society of spectacle’ to the ‘society of extras’, 4 December 2003

Relational Aesthetics 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Matthew Copeland.
Les Presses du réel, 128 pp., €9, March 2002, 2 84066 060 1
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Postproduction 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Jeanine Herman.
Lukas and Sternberg, 88 pp., $19, October 2001, 0 9711193 0 9
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Interviews: Volume I 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Charta, 967 pp., $60, June 2003, 9788881584314
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... platforms, some dotted with information about a famous person from the past (Erasmus Darwin or Robert McNamara), as though a documentary script were in the making or a history seminar had just finished. Or, finally, a kiosk cobbled together from plastic and plywood, and filled, like a homemade study-shrine, with images and texts devoted to a particular ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... co-authored in 1968. Mr John Costello has produced Mask of Treachery, dealing with Blunt, while Mr Robert Cecil has written a biography of his former Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s study of the Soviet agents who have spied for – or defected ...

Exporting the Royals

Robert Tombs, 7 October 1993

Maximilian and Juárez 
by Jasper Ridley.
Constable, 353 pp., £16.95, March 1993, 0 09 472070 3
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Maximilian’s Lieutenant: A Personal History of the Mexican Campaign, 1864-7 
by Ernst Pitner, translated and edited by Gordon Etherington-Smith.
Tauris, 256 pp., £35, October 1993, 9781850435600
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... discovered, are now published for the first time with an excellent commentary by a descendant, Gordon Etherington-Smith, and a useful background note by Don Coerver. They give a realistic picture of the unenviable lot of a 19th-century soldier of fortune, and if not a major historical source, they contain much of interest and not a little unconscious ...

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