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Cooking it up

Rupert Christiansen, 19 January 1989

Maria: Callas Remembered 
by Nadia Stancioff.
Sidgwick, 264 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 283 99645 5
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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes 
by John Ardoin.
Robson, 300 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 86051 504 4
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Callas as they saw her 
edited by David Lowe.
Robson, 264 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 9780860514961
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The Great Caruso 
by Michael Scott.
Hamish Hamilton, 322 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 241 11954 5
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Chaliapin 
by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... itself, or on its musical realisation, or even on the performers, but on what Ruth Berghaus or David Alden or Andrei Serban is saying about it. Or rather what images they are inflicting upon it – for the production of opera is primarily a matter of what something is made to look like. Singers rarely have any authentic acting ability and the wiser ...

Diary

James MacGibbon: Fashionable Radicals, 22 January 1987

... Police – Ulysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were but two of the kind of thing he was after. David Low portrayed him as a funeral mute with thick crêpe on his hat. Even that little classic The Specialist was a cause of some anxiety at Putnam, and a sigh of relief went up when the Times Literary Supplement dubbed it ‘innocently Rabelaisian’. We may ...

Diary

Fintan O’Toole: The Case of Darren Graham, 6 September 2007

... buses, working on building sites or sitting in their own kitchens or living-rooms. Many, like David McQuillan, Winston McCaughey, Ritchie Latimer, Albert Beacom, Robert Bennett, Thomas Loughran and James McFall were with their children when they were attacked. William Gordon’s 10-year-old-daughter, Lesley, and seven-year-old son, Richard, were beside ...

Sunday Mornings

Frank Kermode, 19 July 1984

Desmond MacCarthy: The Man and his Writings 
by David Cecil.
Constable, 313 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 9780094656109
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... miscellaneous essays by MacCarthy, all of which have been collected before, and a memoir by Lord David Cecil, of which a portion appeared as preface to an earlier selection. Desmond MacCarthy was probably the best-known London literary journalist of his time, and it is clearly the view of publisher and editor that his influence can be extended into our ...

Juiced

David Runciman: Winners Do Drugs, 3 August 2006

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports 
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Gotham, 332 pp., $26, March 2006, 1 59240 199 6
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... interspersed with routine denials that anything was amiss, had it not been for one man. This was Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (or Balco for short), who masterminded the supply of steroids to some of the top performers in baseball and athletics for over a decade, and whose inability to keep his mouth shut has brought ...

Rallying Points

Shlomo Avineri, 1 October 1987

Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land 
by David Shipler.
Bloomsbury, 596 pp., £17.95, June 1987, 0 7475 0017 7
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... He is interested in the human story, in the wounded sensibilities of occupier and occupied, of victor and vanquished. He finds a country devastated by Allied saturation bombing, its cities razed to the ground, most of its urban population homeless, hungry and cold. Millions of civilians, many of them women and children, wander aimlessly across the ...

The Fug o’Fame

David Goldie: Hugh MacDiarmid’s letters, 6 June 2002

New Selected Letters 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Dorian Grieve.
Carcanet, 572 pp., £39.95, August 2001, 1 85754 273 8
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... tried to seem like Baudelaire or Nietzsche in his splenetic grandeur the more he came to resemble Victor Meldrew. When he was sacked for drunkenness by the editor of the Carlisle Journal in 1947, he responded that ‘a man of my national and international reputation cannot be dismissed as you dismissed me yesterday without repercussions,’ claiming that he ...

Tomboy Grudge

Claire Harman, 27 February 1992

Rose Macaulay: A Writer’s Life 
by Jane Emery.
Murray, 381 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7195 4768 7
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... bible, my staff, my entertainer, my help in work and my recreation in leisure,’ she wrote to Victor and Ruth Gollancz in a rare display of feeling, after they had replaced the copy destroyed with the rest of Macaulay’s flat during the Blitz. Macaulay was the author of 41 books, and an early ‘media intellectual’ whose university education and ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... now I have taken the view that my ‘Desert Island’ book, if I were asked, would have to be David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema. First published in 1970, it has just re-appeared as A Biographical Dictionary of Film in a third edition that is revised and considerably enlarged. Despite its titles it is indeed a work of ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland, 16 August 1990

Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... at the Hyde Park Regis with three (fictional) storytellers from earlier segments: Sergei Rozanov, Victor Surkov and Masha Barash. The conference they are attending is an appalling affair. Stuffed shirts like ‘Kington Aimes, the humorous novelist’ rub shoulders with monstrous feminists and Third World demagogues. Thomas’s quartet – true artists that ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Brussels, 29 July 1999

... Adjustment, no matter how comfortable it appears to be, is never freedom.’ David Reisman said that in The Lonely Crowd, a work of academic/pop sociology, published in the US in the late Forties; much read and remarked on at the time, and now forgotten. I looked it up the other day when I was due to say something at the South Bank Centre in connection with the Cities on the Move exhibition at the Hayward ...

Uses for Horsehair

David Blackbourn, 9 February 1995

Duelling: The Cult of Honour in Fin-de-Siècle Germany 
by Kevin McAleer.
Princeton, 268 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 691 03462 1
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... talking about fighting duels. The subject has recently attracted some fine historians. In 1988, Victor Kiernan published The Duel in European History, a thoughtful account that drew mainly on British and French evidence from the Early Modern period and presented the modern duel as an aristocratic residue. Five years later, Friedhelm Guttandin offered a ...

Violets in Their Lapels

David A. Bell: Bonapartism, 23 June 2005

The Legend of Napoleon 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Granta, 336 pp., £20, August 2004, 1 86207 667 7
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The Retreat 
by Patrick Rambaud, translated by William Hobson.
Picador, 320 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 330 48901 1
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Napoleon: The Eternal Man of St Helena 
by Max Gallo, translated by William Hobson.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £10.99, April 2005, 0 333 90798 1
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The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in 19th-Century France 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Harvard, 307 pp., £32.95, May 2004, 0 674 01341 7
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Napoleon and the British 
by Stuart Semmel.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 09001 3
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... of the unbelievable cold. The French title of the second volume, Il neigeait, is taken from Victor Hugo’s great poem about Napoleon, ‘L’Expiation’, which has much the same place in French culture that ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ holds in British. But Rambaud, unlike Hugo, sketches a war – and a Napoleon – scoured of glory or ...

The Mothering of Montgomery

John Keegan, 2 July 1981

Monty: The Making of a General, 1887-1942 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 871 pp., £12, June 1981, 0 241 10583 8
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The War between the Generals: Inside the Allied High Command 
by David Irving.
Allen Lane, 446 pp., £9.95, June 1981, 0 7139 1344 4
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... War campaigns. Among the latter was Alamein and it became an annual Alamein Company event for the victor himself to visit, dine with the cadets and afterwards address them in their ante-room. I didn’t belong to Alamein and so had no right to attend, but one year was invited to do so by the company commander. I accepted with little enthusiasm. The ...

Hurricane Brooke

Brian Bond, 2 September 1982

Alanbrooke 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 604 pp., £12.95, April 1982, 0 00 216360 8
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... anger would be softened by memories of military service with two of Alan’s brothers, Ronnie and Victor. Alan was born (in 1883) at Bagnères-de-Bigore in the French Pyrenees, where his parents habitually wintered both for its agreeable climate and its hunting – the fashionable area around Pau was known as ‘the Leicestershire of France’. He spoke ...

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