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One Big Murder Mystery

Adam Shatz: The Algerian army’s leading novelist, 7 October 2004

The Swallows of Kabul 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by John Cullen.
Heinemann, 195 pp., £10.99, May 2004, 9780434011414
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Wolf Dreams 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by Linda Black.
Toby, 272 pp., $19.95, May 2003, 1 902881 75 3
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Morituri 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by David Herman.
Toby, 137 pp., £7.95, May 2004, 1 59264 035 4
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... Readers in the West, especially Americans, are eager to know ‘what went wrong with Islam’, as Bernard Lewis delicately puts it, particularly if it can be traced to cultural pathology and envy of ‘our freedom’. Carmen bin Ladin, the ex-wife of Osama’s brother Yeslam, and Farah Pahlavi, the Shah’s widow, have published memoirs to respectful ...

Slipper Protocol

Peter Campbell: The seclusion of women, 10 May 2001

Harems of the Mind: Passages of Western Art and Literature 
by Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
Yale, 314 pp., £22.50, October 2000, 0 300 08389 0
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... life in the East, do cast some light on the minds and societies which produced them. That is Ruth Bernard Yeazell’s subject. To find out how Western concerns and speculations were projected by the distorting lens of (often wishful) ignorance, she has trawled a substantial range of material – from the sparse documentary accounts of travellers to any number ...

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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... that made him seem a bit déclassé. Bergonzi discusses Bloomsbury or Bennett, Wells or Wyndham Lewis, Davie or Fredric Jameson, in the same informed, unassertive tone; the most memorable essay is actually an attack on Terry Eagleton, but the manner remains moderate even as the shafts go home. Bergonzi has obviously made a bourgeois submission to what is ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... Malraux to shame. Gary was probably better in the talk department than Isaiah Berlin: the Carl Lewis, one might say, of talkers. One can admire Carl Lewis as an athlete, however, without being overcome by any great desire to run against him. On the other side of Montparnasse, the 14th to be precise, I had a habit of ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Poets Laureate, 7 January 1999

... When Cecil Day Lewis was appointed Poet Laureate in 1968, he got – within days of the good news – a letter from his bank manager. ‘The whole Midland,’ it said, ‘rejoices with you.’ And this, it might be felt, comes close to summing up what’s wrong with being Poet Laureate. Since banks began, poets have received many letters from bank managers but few have been at all like Cecil’s ...

Messages from the 29th Floor

David Trotter: Lifts, 3 July 2014

Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator 
by Andreas Bernard, translated by David Dollenmayer.
NYU, 309 pp., £21.99, April 2014, 978 0 8147 8716 8
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... coiling and uncoiling in the shaft stand in for the root of Roquentin’s chestnut tree. Andreas Bernard is properly sceptical of myths of origin. It didn’t all begin in 1854, in fact. From Archimedes and Vitruvius onwards, descriptions survive of devices for the vertical transport of goods, primarily, but also of people. The English diplomat Charles ...

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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... 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 ...

Rise of the Rest

Pankaj Mishra: After America, 6 November 2008

The Post-American World 
by Fareed Zakaria.
Allen Lane, 292 pp., £20, July 2008, 978 1 84614 153 9
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The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order 
by Parag Khanna.
Allen Lane, 466 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 7139 9937 2
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... The administration had its own intellectual cheerleaders and experts on the Middle East: Bernard Lewis, for instance, whose pet conviction that ‘in that part of the world, nothing matters more than resolute will and force’ was validated by the swift capitulation of the Taliban. Iraq was logically the next target. As the columnist Thomas ...

Cyber-Jihad

Charles Glass: What Osama Said, 9 March 2006

The Secret History of al-Qaida 
by Abdel Bari Atwan.
Saqi, 256 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 0 86356 760 6
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Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror 
by Michael Scheuer.
Potomac, 307 pp., £11.95, July 2005, 1 57488 862 5
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Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden 
edited by Bruce Lawrence, translated by James Howarth.
Verso, 292 pp., £10.99, November 2005, 1 84467 045 7
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Osama: The Making of a Terrorist 
by Jonathan Randal.
Tauris, 346 pp., £9.99, October 2005, 1 84511 117 6
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... as “irrational in the extreme”.’ Scheuer criticises pundits – from the elderly Orientalist Bernard Lewis to the neocons on Fox – for consistently dismissing bin Laden as insane. ‘Bin Laden is described,’ Scheuer writes, ‘alternately as a “stateless psychopath”, a man of “mad ambitions”, the leader of “a new breed of savage and ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... pursuit of her subject; and the story of a biographer’s treatment of his researcher. In R.W.B. Lewis’s acclaimed and prize-winning biography of Edith Wharton, published in 1975, he describes having first heard the name Morton Fullerton when he started work on his book in 1967, and being told that this Fullerton, an American journalist in Paris, had ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... The ‘misunderstandings’ over Westlands were attributed to those civil servants such as Mr Bernard Ingham and Mr Charles Powell whom Mrs Thatcher sees many times each day. Isn’t this something we should be concerned about? Three decades after Crichel Down, however, all the House of Commons and the country seem to do is to shrug its collective ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard Crick, 7 October 1982

... mean a memorial or a panegyric, it can mean a hatchet job, it can simply mean a good read (Wyndham Lewis once said that good biographies are like novels); or it can mean something scholarly, academic, definitive: a dull attempt to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – as far as that is possible. I have no wish to say that popular ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... such fervent advocates of the Israeli cause as Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, I. Lewis (‘Scooter’) Libby, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and David Wurmser. As we shall see, these officials have consistently pushed for policies favoured by Israel and backed by organisations in the Lobby. The Lobby doesn’t want an open debate, of ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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Striker 
by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... which was rapidly becoming disillusioned. Nevertheless, in the course of that novel Snow has Lewis Eliot observe usefully: ‘Countries, when their power is slipping away, are always liable to do idiotic things. So are social classes.’ Redhill Rococo and Striker offer something in the way of light relief. Idiocy has filtered down and its symptoms are ...

Strange, Sublime, Uncanny, Anxious

Frank Kermode, 22 December 1994

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages 
by Harold Bloom.
Harcourt Brace, 578 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 15 195747 9
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... As one thinks of Harold Bloom, Auden’s description of Wyndham Lewis as a lonely old volcano comes to mind. Though not, like Lewis, ‘of the Right’, or indeed claiming any political alignment, Bloom erupts with comparable regularity and force. He prefers to be a one-man cultural opposition, waving only the banner of aesthetics; he says there are no Bloomians, but everybody knows him and all wonder, usually with exasperated affection, what he will do next ...

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