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Leah Price: Ectoplasm, 6 July 2000

Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle 
by Daniel Stashower.
Penguin, 472 pp., £18.99, February 2000, 0 7139 9373 1
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... had survived a miraculous crawl up the ravine of the Reichenbach Falls, wending his way back to Baker Street via Lhasa, Mecca and a laboratory in Montpellier devoted to the study of coal-tar derivatives. ‘So the old dog returns to his vomit,’ Conan Doyle later commented. Yet, despite his resolve that ‘this must cease’ and Holmes ‘must go the way ...

Down with DWEMs

John Sutherland, 15 August 1991

ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education 
by Charles Sykes.
St Martin’s, 304 pp., $9.95, December 1989, 0 312 03916 6
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Tenured Redicals: How politics has corrupted our Higher Education 
by Roger Kimball.
HarperCollins, 222 pp., $9.95, April 1991, 0 06 092049 1
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... is a professor of theological ethics at Duke. Also cited as symptomatic of the times was Houston Baker’s cryptic remark that choosing between authors like Virginia Woolf and Pearl Buck ‘is like choosing between a hoagy and a pizza. I am one whose career is dedicated to the day when we have a disappearance of those standards.’ ...

Various Woman

Penelope Fitzgerald, 2 April 1987

A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley 
by Katherine Frank.
Hamish Hamilton, 333 pp., £14.95, February 1987, 0 241 12074 8
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by Gloria Steinem and George Barris.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1987, 0 575 03945 0
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Joe and Marilyn: A Memory of Love 
by Roger Kahn.
Sidgwick, 268 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 283 99427 4
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I leap over the wall 
by Monica Baldwin and Karen Armstrong.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 9780241119747
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Diary of a Zen Nun: A Moving Chronicle of Living Zen 
by Nan Shin (Nancy Amphoux).
Rider, 228 pp., £5.95, January 1987, 9780712614320
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... all have our areas, but who ever admits it?’ She, too, was self-created, out of Norma Jeane Baker, proud that she had never been kept, never been discovered and had earned every cent she possessed. But she was imprisoned by her ‘magic friend’, her beauty, and saw no way of surviving without it. Whose fault was this? Gloria Steinem’s Marilyn ...

Quite Nice

Diana Souhami: Fernande Olivier, 13 December 2001

Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier 
edited by Marilyn McCully, translated by Christine Baker.
Abrams, 296 pp., £24, May 2001, 0 8109 4251 8
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... hid from her when she pursued him. She drifted to new affairs – a poet, Jean Pellerin, the actor Roger Karl, who drank and was a philanderer. She tried countless jobs: French lessons, a cashier in a butcher’s shop, running a cabaret, looking after children. And then as time passed and Picasso became so successful without her, she turned to her diary notes ...

A Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch

Christopher Hitchens, 6 June 1996

... own destiny with a high seriousness and purity, they found themselves sharing a ship with Bobby Baker. Mr Baker, who was Lyndon Johnson’s bag-man and fixer within the Democratic Party and throughout the capital city, had been convicted in a sensational trial of tax fraud and conspiracy. His attorney, the no less ...

Stanley and the Women

Tony Gould, 25 July 1991

Stanley: The Making of an African Explorer 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 411 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 09 462420 8
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Stanley: Sorcerer’s Apprentice 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 499 pp., £25, January 1991, 0 09 470220 9
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Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley 
by John Bierman.
Hodder, 401 pp., £17.95, January 1991, 0 340 50977 5
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... exploitation of his private domain were only beginning to emerge, through the effort of men like Roger Casement and E.D. Morel, at the time of Stanley’s death. Stanley’s last expedition, to relieve Emin Pasha in 1888, brought out the best and the worst in him. Politically, he was playing a deep game, serving at least two masters, the Belgian Leopold and ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reader 
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... Oxford Companion to English Literature, and the names most ubiquitous in The Book History Reader, Roger Chartier and D.F. McKenzie, can be found on none of the new Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism’s several thousand pages. Perhaps this is as it should be; to call book history a theory would be to read it against the grain. For many literary critics ...

Uncle Max

Patricia Craig, 20 December 1984

The man who was M: The Life of Maxwell Knight 
by Anthony Masters.
Blackwell, 205 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 631 13392 5
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Unreliable Witness: Espionage Myths of the Second World War 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 166 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 297 78481 1
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The Great Betrayal: The Untold Story of Kim Philby’s Biggest Coup 
by Nicholas Bethell.
Hodder, 214 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 340 35701 0
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... of all the tape-recorded interviews he was lucky enough to secure. You could call it the butcher-baker-candlestick-maker method, with many peripheral figures – such as the Exmoor visitor who remembered Gwladys affectionately – being brought in to deliver their comment, and then bowing out of the story. It’s a piecemeal way of going about things, and ...

From Lying to Leering

Rebecca Solnit: Penis Power, 19 January 2017

... about his decades-long sexual harassment, degradation and exploitation of his female employees, Roger Ailes became Trump’s debate coach, though they soon fell out – some reports said Ailes was frustrated by Trump’s inability to concentrate. The Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros claimed that under Ailes, Fox was ‘a sex-fuelled, Playboy Mansion-like ...

Big Man Walking

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev’s Dispensation, 14 December 2017

Gorbachev: His Life and Times 
by William Taubman.
Simon and Schuster, 880 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4711 4796 8
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... Great Stavropol Canal’. Privately, he was reading books of heretical Marxism: the works of Roger Garaudy and Gramsci, among others. In public he was ‘mouthing the party line while inwardly recoiling from much of it’. The decisive turn in his career came in the late 1970s, when he became the protégé of Yuri Andropov, the elderly head of the ...


John Mullan: Fanny Burney, 23 August 2001

Fanny Burney: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Flamingo, 464 pp., £8.99, October 2001, 0 00 655036 3
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Fanny Burney: Her Life 
by Kate Chisholm.
Vintage, 347 pp., £7.99, June 1999, 0 09 959021 2
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Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III 
by Hester Davenport.
Sutton, 224 pp., £25, June 2000, 0 7509 1881 0
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... a canonisation of him and a celebration of her own literary career. (‘Fanny’s last novel’, Roger Lonsdale called it in his biography of Charles Burney.) Yet she recovered and left to us a hoard of paper that makes Burney a biographer’s dream: the letters and journals that she lugged back and forth across the Channel, and which at present constitute ...

Who does that for anyone?

Adam Shatz: Jean-Pierre Melville, 20 June 2019

Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Solitaire 
by Bertrand Teissier.
Fayard, 272 pp., €22, October 2017, 978 2 213 70573 6
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Jean-Pierre Melville, une vie 
by Antoine de Baecque.
Seuil, 244 pp., €32, October 2017, 978 2 02 137107 9
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... was his uncle Arthur, an antiques dealer friendly with Maurice Chevalier and Josephine Baker. Arthur introduced him to the circus, then to nightclubs and music halls. As de Baecque points out, Melville’s gangster films invariably include a ‘fetish’ scene in a cabaret, a place set deep in ‘the heart of Jean-Pierre Grumbach’s native ...

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