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‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... W.H. Auden mentioned the moments of unanticipated connection: Or blessed encounter, full of joy Unscheduled on the Giesen Plan, With, here, an addict of Tolkien, There, a Charles Williams fan.If Auden were on the circuit now, he’d still find plenty of Tolkien addicts, but he’d go a long way before stumbling on a Charles Williams fan. Charles ...

Halfway to Siberia

Ruth Franklin: Theodor Fontane, 13 December 2001

Theodor Fontane: Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 232 pp., £26, November 2000, 0 19 512837 0
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... to complain in this way: ‘The more berlinisch one is, the more one rails or jeers at Berlin.’ Gordon Craig’s Theodor Fontane: Literature and History in the Bismarck Reich is a collection of eight essays, each on a different aspect of Fontane’s work, which included journalism, ballads, poems, travel writing, military history, theatre criticism, novels ...

Diary

Mary Hawthorne: Remembering Joseph Mitchell, 1 August 1996

... had written in the magazine or in one of his papers, and these comments filled me with a childish joy. He died on 24 May, of cancer, at the age of 87. Mitchell was born on 27 July 1908, in Fairmont, North Carolina, a small farming community interspersed with swamps and woods, fifty miles or so inland from the Atlantic Ocean. His father was a farmer and a ...

No snarling

Fatema Ahmed: P.G. Wodehouse, 3 November 2005

Wodehouse 
by Joseph Connolly.
Haus, 192 pp., £9.99, September 2004, 1 904341 68 3
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Wodehouse: A Life 
by Robert McCrum.
Penguin, 542 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 14 100048 1
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... 17 years in the Army (Bodmin, India, Burmah, India, Burmah, Malta, Gibraltar, Soudan – relief of Gordon – and Transvaal): says that a bus driver could write a “reel ’istory” of the things he sees from his box seat.’ Of a waitress in 1904: ‘Hours 3 to 6.30, but has to stop late if people come: wears dress that cost £6, belongs to proprietor, but ...

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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... the battle of Waterloo bringing the Iron Duke news of the death of his favourite ADC, Alexander Gordon: ‘He was much affected. I felt his tears dropping fast upon my hands, and looking towards him, saw them chasing one another in furrows over his dusty cheeks.’ The cult of sensibility faded almost as quickly as it had begun. The French Revolution and ...

Edgar and Emma

John Sutherland, 20 February 1986

World’s Fair 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 275 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2685 8
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The Adventures of Robina 
edited by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 571 13796 2
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... girl called Meg, of whose unrespectable mother Rose strongly disapproves. He devours more Flash Gordon, Zorro, the Green Hornet and Lamont Cranston the Shadow than is good for him. There are a few high points. Edgar gets on the Babe Ruth radio programme. There is a day at the beach and a day in the country. Various fringe members of the family drift in and ...

Scrapbook

Edward Pearce, 26 July 1990

A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... suitcases with the familiar scents, little Mini, the Jack Russell bitch, nearly went mad with joy and had almost forcibly to be removed from the room.’ Hailsham the private man, son, husband, even father of the egregious Douglas, is very lovable, so much so that the Hogg of the two peerages, scholar, gentleman, showboat, public pronouncer and ...

Diary

A. Craig Copetas: Yaaaggghhhh, 25 June 1992

... holding forth on writers, his body freezing in mid-sentence to drive home a point. There was Gordon Wasson on mushrooms, William Emboden on narcotic plants, D.H. Lawrence on meeting interesting women, and Marcel Proust babbling about French society in a most peculiar syntax. I’d never heard of any of these writers; the slow-rising central horror of ...

Your Inner Salmon

Nick Richardson: Mohsin Hamid, 20 June 2013

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 
by Mohsin Hamid.
Hamish Hamilton, 228 pp., £14.99, March 2013, 978 0 241 14466 4
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... some reviewers from praising or damning the book for doing things it carefully avoids. Edmund Gordon, in the Telegraph, wrote that Hamid’s use of the second person allows him ‘to implicitly pair the trajectory of his hero’s life with the trajectories of millions of other lives’ when what it really does is make you conscious of how different your ...

The Politics of Good Intentions

David Runciman: Blair’s Masochism, 8 May 2003

... during this period by ‘neurotic temperaments to whom self-inflicted tortures are a source of joy’. For some, peace without honour was too good an opportunity to pass by. ‘These Germans,’ Bonn wrote, ‘went at it, as flagellantes.’ ‘Sterile excitement’ is how Weber characterises the temptations of conviction politics. He contrasts them with ...

Horrors and Hidden Money

D.A.N. Jones, 6 February 1986

Jackdaw Cake: ‘An Autobiography’ 
by Norman Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 214 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 241 11689 9
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... Philippeville,’ we wonder if there was any in Enfield. Lewis moves in with a Sicilian family in Gordon Street, Bloomsbury, where he marries a daughter called Ernestina. Her father, Ernesto, tells him of the old days in Palermo. The in-laws enjoy meeting Lewis’s family and one of them secretly adopts spiritualism after hearing Lewis’s father go into a ...

Diary

David Craig: In the Barra Isles, 30 October 1997

... for ‘cliffs against which the waves forever lift their white hands, not in despair, not in joy. Paths lined with flowers that sing their identifications like birds, leading through an infinity of fields, in each of which is an old man remembering its name.’ And so, when Kev Howett, one of the leading rock-climbers based in the Highlands, mentioned a ...

Urban Messthetics

John Mullan: Black and Asian writers in London, 18 November 2004

London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City 
by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Harper Perennial, 498 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 00 653214 4
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... place of unpredictable pairings and joyful miscegenation. ‘It’s a place of excess. An oasis of joy and gratuitous debauchery.’ The characters in the ‘sexual triptych’ have different racial origins and social status. ‘Collectively, they cover a cultural range the breadth of which can only ever be found in cities like London.’ Out in the suburbs ...

A Winter Mind

John Burnside, 25 April 2013

... sees that his wife’s flowers have miraculously bloomed, and brings them to her, laughing with joy, the apartment filling with light, the sense of release, of new life, almost overwhelming. The film could have ended here and scored a fairly obvious political point: the poor and powerless in America are oppressed by runaway capitalism in much the same ...

Heimat

David Craig, 6 July 1989

A Search for Scotland 
by R.F. Mackenzie.
Collins, 280 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 00 215185 5
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A Claim of Right for Scotland 
edited by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 202 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6022 4
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The Eclipse of Scottish Culture 
by Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull.
Polygon, 121 pp., £6.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6000 3
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The Bird Path: Collected Longer Poems 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 239 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 245 2
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Travels in the Drifting Dawn 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 160 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 240 1
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... the piece on ‘The Radical Literary Tradition’) – a fling at the Establishment which Gordon Brown, as a student at Edinburgh, had defied in the most practical way by getting elected as University Rector, then setting up the Special Publications Board which published the Red Paper and has recently evolved into the pioneering publisher Polygon. But ...

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