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Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 20 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... like those to Strachey or Noel Olivier, or from under time-seals, like those to Phyllis Gardner, but these ones seem to show a man who was ‘jealous, moody, ill-balanced’, as Woolf had said, and who renounced the unconventionality of his youth to revert to philistine type: ‘the Rugby ethos’, as Paul Delany calls it, ‘that not only was ...
Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 240 pp., £25, February 1990, 0 19 812852 5
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Professing Literature: An Institutional History 
by Gerald Graff.
Chicago, 315 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 226 30604 6
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... system of English literature’. Unlike those of his contemporaries whom he most envies (John Wain, Kingsley Amis), Bergonzi never managed to break out of the institution. As he admits, it was too comfortable. In the last thirty years he has taught at Manchester, then Warwick University, where he is now professor. True to his Morleyish ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy, 4 March 1999

Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... work or even to lead his readers through a particular poem. Valéry, Allen Tate, William Empson, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren and Robert Lowell were instructive in that way. But it is rare for a poet to lead readers through a poem, draft by draft, or explain how he settled for one word rather than another. Yeats did not offer to explain how he got ...

Berenson’s Elixir

Simon Schama, 1 May 1980

Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... is as much an expression of his taste and enthusiasm as of those of its doyenne, Isabella Stewart Gardner. He was not exaggerating when he told his 50th Harvard class reunion that most of the Italian pictures of any merit that had come to America between 1895 and 1940 had had his ‘visa stamped on their passport’. His protégés and epigones remain ...

Really fantastic

A.D. Nuttall, 18 November 1982

A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in Narrative and Structure, especially of the Fantastic 
by Christine Brooke-Rose.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £25, October 1981, 0 521 22561 2
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... had stayed in Oxford, instead of migrating to France, she might have been rather like Helen Gardner. Her new book is written with a crispness and a briskness which at once evokes a certain atmosphere: a highly intelligent unresponsiveness to theory, a fear of subjectivity (she even recalls, with obvious relish, her Oxford tutor’s phrase for mere ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland, 17 July 1997

Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... 250 million copies, which puts him in the stratosphere with Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. What can be precisely reckoned is that more films – 108 – have been made of Zane Grey’s 58 stories than of any other novelist’s work. As the disparity implies, many of Grey’s stories were filmed two and three times over in the Twenties and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Servant’, 9 May 2013

The Servant 
directed by Joseph Losey.
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... its own right. The house is a major player in the film. It’s on Royal Avenue in Chelsea, Colin Gardner tells us in Joseph Losey (2004); the film opens with a view of Wren’s Royal Hospital at the end of the perspective, tracks down the promenade of dust that separates the two sides of the street, pauses over the almost bare trees, takes a deep interest in ...

Poor Harold

C.H. Sisson, 3 December 1981

Harold Nicolson: A Biography. Vo. II: 1930-1968 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 403 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 7011 2602 7
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... Virginia Woolf, and I believe James Joyce, though I learn from the volume before me that Sir John Reith, reigning at the BBC, forbade Nicolson to mention Ulysses, then banned. Little encounters of that kind were to be expected in those days, and Nicolson seems not to have attempted to reason with the great man on this occasion. Such high matters were ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... and the author was encouraged by its success to complete a Shakespearean trilogy. Since, as Helen Gardner says, ‘the facts that are clearly established’ about Shakespeare’s life ‘could be written by a neat writer on two sides of a postcard’ (LRB, Vol. 6, No 6), this represents a considerable feat of expansion – but no other kind of feat. At its ...

Attercliffe

Nicholas Spice, 17 May 1984

Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... the Northern Post. After the match, in the Buckingham Bar, Fredericks introduces Frank to Phyllis Gardner – eyes ‘long-lashed’, teeth ‘pearl-buttoned’ between ‘brightly-fashioned lips’. Phyllis is an actress, and Fredericks’s idea is that Attercliffe should interview her for the Northern Post. Maybe it’ll help him get interested in writing ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior, 12 March 2009

The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... will take its place alongside Gladstone’s diaries, the letters of Carlyle and Disraeli, and John Stuart Mill’s collected works as an indispensable resource for understanding the Victorians. With the possible exception of Adam Smith, there can be few economic gurus who have been so vulnerable to sustained political hijacking by left and right. From the ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... of US-Soviet relations, complete with a speech by Olivia de Havilland … The next day, John Wayne learns that the Selective Service board has extended his 3-A deferment. Hot dog! The star celebrates Thanksgiving Day by carving turkeys at the canteen, even as Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet in Tehran to plan the US invasion of Europe. The ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams Made it Work, 19 December 2019

The Man who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’ and the Writing Life 
by Charles Shields.
Texas, 305 pp., £23.99, October 2018, 978 1 4773 1736 5
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Nothing but the Night 
by John Williams.
NYRB, 144 pp., $14.95, February 2019, 978 1 68137 307 2
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... between the appearance of Thomas Pynchon’s first book and the Beatles’ second long-player, John Williams, a professor at the University of Denver, sent his agent in New York a draft of his latest novel, which detailed the unhappy marriage, undistinguished career and early death from cancer of an imagined professor at the University of Missouri a ...

Goings-On at Eagle Lake

Christopher Tayler: Barry Hannah, 29 November 2001

Yonder Stands Your Orphan 
by Barry Hannah.
Atlantic, 336 pp., £9.99, September 2001, 1 903809 16 9
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... crime prevention. Various interested parties – including Egan, the saxophonist Max Raymond and John Roman, a Vietnam veteran who is also the only black character in the book – eventually decide to take action against Mortimer, but their plans seem worryingly ineffectual. Nor are these the only goings-on around Eagle Lake: indeed, Mortimer’s reign of ...

Lachrymatics

Ferdinand Mount: British Weeping, 17 December 2015

Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears 
by Thomas Dixon.
Oxford, 438 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 19 967605 7
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... At bedtime, tears would gather in his blue-bloodshot eyes as he read his favourite poems to us. John Dowland’s ‘Weep you no more, sad fountains’ was a favourite. Another was Christina Rossetti’s ‘When I am dead, my dearest, sing no sad songs for me’. Both injunctions not to cry made us cry too, as such injunctions do, the admonishment of the ...

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