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Further Left

R.W. Johnson, 16 August 1990

Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Hogarth, 357 pp., £9.99, July 1990, 0 7012 0903 8
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Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 398 pp., £18, July 1990, 0 7011 3361 9
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... respectful of Henry Kissinger. Hitchens is at his best when on the attack. He can’t stand Cyril Connolly, whom he sees as a precious old reactionary: ‘another dose of the familiar compound ... some rackety travelling, a tincture of furtive sex (with much sniggering about lesbians), and the business of voyaging long distances the better to fret about some ...

Can I have my shilling back?

Peter Campbell, 19 November 1992

Epstein: Artist against the Establishment 
by Stephen Gardiner.
Joseph, 532 pp., £20, September 1992, 9780718129446
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... T.E. Lawrence and, later, his brother; Shaw (despite the differences over his portrait); and Cyril Connolly were more likely than sculptors or painters to be Epstein’s advocates. His commercial success depended on a few patrons, above all John Quinn, who bought much of his early carving, and on the demand for portraiture from a group very much more nearly ...

The Essential Orwell

Frank Kermode, 22 January 1981

George Orwell: A Life 
by Bernard Crick.
Secker, 473 pp., £10, November 1980, 9780436114502
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Class, Culture and Social Change: A New View of the 1930s 
edited by Frank Gloversmith.
Harvester, 285 pp., £20, July 1980, 0 85527 938 9
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Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties 
edited by Jon Clark, Margot Heinemann, David Margolies and Carole Snee.
Lawrence and Wishart, 279 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 0 85315 419 8
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... such were the joys’ is a fair account of the prep school Orwell attended with Cyril Connolly. No doubt Orwell would have said it was essentially true. He once praised Martin Chuzzlewit, with its mixture of travel book and fiction, as ‘a good example of Dickens’s habit of telling small lies in order to emphasise what he regards as a big ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... sorts of people turned up for the weekend; the guest list in the interwar years included George Bernard Shaw, Sean O’Casey, H.G. Wells, Mary Pickford, Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin – even Gandhi. David’s prolonged exposure to celebrities in his childhood meant that they held no fear for him as an adult. Sometimes, when Nancy got ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... Madan? No one today would expect to find in a Times leader anything quotable, but in the heyday of Bernard Darwin’s fourth leaders, its staff were expected to turn phrases like fishcakes: ‘He liked what he considered to be the best conversation including his own,’ ‘The saying that there are two kinds of pedestrian, the quick and the dead, is well ...

Brooke’s Benefit

Anthony Powell, 16 April 1981

... in unhighbrow surroundings. In short, the facts of Brooke’s life are more than usually relevant. Bernard Jocelyn Brooke was born 30 November 1908, third child and second son of Henry Brooke and his wife Mary, née Turner, the youngest of the family by ten years or more. Both his grandfathers had been wine merchants, also his father, who had started life as a ...


John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... sense of accuracy without the mediation of the introspective mind. He is not created. No more than Bernard and Louis, and the characters in The Years and the rest of her novels, is Bogey Harris transformed into a work of art. That is his point, she might reply: that is what I am aiming at. ‘Of course this is external,’ she says, as she meditates the ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... up quite well. And the plays brought in a lot of money. ‘I had achieved what I wanted . . . Bernard Partridge drew a cartoon for Punch in which William Shakespeare was shown biting his fingers in front of the boards that advertised my plays.’ As a wit-about-town, Maugham had various dalliances with women. His lust for chaps was a fairly open secret in ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... to go into the GPO in O’Connell Street without a single thought for MacDonagh and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse, or without remembering for a second that Samuel Beckett once asked his friend Con Leventhal to betake himself ‘to the Dublin Post Office and measure the height of the ground to Cúchulainn’s arse’, as Neary in his novel Murphy wished to ...

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