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The Wrong Stuff

Christopher Hitchens, 1 April 1983

The Purple Decades 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 396 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 224 02944 4
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... literal. What those three paragraphs have in common are the three things that go to make up the Tom Wolfe effect. One, a glibness that is designed for speed-reading. Two, a facility with rapidly cross-cut images and references: a show of learning. Three, a strongly marked conservatism. It is the third of these features, Wolfe’s subliminal advertising for ...

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne, 21 May 2020

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot: The Great Mistake of Scottish Independence 
by John Lloyd.
Polity, 224 pp., £20, April, 978 1 5095 4266 6
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The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation 
by Scott Hames.
Edinburgh, 352 pp., £24.99, November 2019, 978 1 4744 1814 0
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... from the Scottish literary community for heresy. His book begins by quoting a letter the poet Tom Leonard wrote to an ‘inquiring editor’: ‘The one area I couldn’t touch would be contemporary Scottish writers, or the recent past. The place is too small, and I like to relax when I go for a walk.’Hames is challenging the belief that the ...

At the NPG

Jean McNicol: ‘Virginia Woolf’, 11 September 2014

... my heart’. Her feelings for the city were, Woolf claimed, her ‘only patriotism’.Leonard and Virginia Woolf had moved back to central London from Richmond early in 1924 after a concerted campaign from Virginia to convince her husband that her health was robust enough to cope with its excitements. Her pleasure in the city is evident throughout ...

Timo of Corinth

Julian Symons, 6 August 1992

A Choice of Murder 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0832 5
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Portrait of the Artist’s Wife 
by Barbara Anderson.
Secker, 309 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 9780436200977
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Turtle Moon 
by Alice Hoffman.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 333 57867 8
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Double Down 
by Tom Kakonis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 333 57492 3
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... intentions Double Down is the most successful of these books. This is the third story by Tom Kakonis on the theme of the hunted man which Graham Greene believed to be the staple of all good thrillers. In Michigan Roll and this one the central figure is Waverley, a gambler with the card-counting memory that makes other pro’s wary of him. That first ...

Burbocentrism

Tom Shippey, 23 May 1996

Beyond Uhura: ‘Star Trek’ and Other Memories 
by Nichelle Nichols.
Boxtree, 320 pp., £9.99, December 1995, 0 7522 0787 3
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I Am Spock 
by Leonard Nimoy.
Century, 342 pp., £16.99, November 1995, 0 7126 7691 0
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Science Fiction Audiences: Watching ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Trek’ 
by Henry Jenkins and John Tulloch.
Routledge, 294 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 415 06140 7
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‘Star Trek’: Deep Space Nine 
by Mark Altman, Rob Davis and Tony Pallot.
Boxtree, 64 pp., £8.99, May 1995, 0 7522 0898 5
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... in on their fictional characters’ popularity – Nichelle Nichols’s Beyond Uhura and Leonard Nimoy’s I Am Spock – but they are not very convincing. Nichols claims that her character is a testimony to the series’ ‘multiculturalism’ and that multiculturalism is what made the series a hit. There is a sort of a point here, but it ...

In a Bookshop

Peter Campbell: Penguin by Illustrators, 10 September 2009

... Barnett Freedman’s lithographs are memorable, as are the pen drawings of Edward Ardizzone and Leonard Baskin. In general it is strength, not subtlety, that marks Faber’s covers up to 1975, when Wolpe retired. Later the design group Pentagram took on the job of branding Faber (it was they who introduced the ff logo) and cool, neat inventiveness took ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... records at this time. In 1945, Chatto (founded in 1855) had absorbed the Hogarth Press (begun by Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1917). In 1969, Chatto and Cape (founded 1921) merged, aiming, as they hoped, to maintain separate identities within their coalition. The union was enlarged by Bodley Head in 1973. In 1975, CBC formed an alliance with the paperback ...

Sweetly Terminal

Edward Pearce, 5 August 1993

Diaries 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 421 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 297 81352 8
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... made didn’t they? We should put them in a trade fair.’ Splendid fellow. On our return, I saw Tom alert and bristling, hackles up, at something in the corner of the peppercorn field where the fence crosses the dyke. Fearing a dead or wounded fox ... I walked over with a sinking heart. It was a badger with still some life in it ... ‘Get some sacks.’ I ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

Heroines 
by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... a definitive, ringing declaration. Here, any sentence could be the last: After her breakdown, Tom placed his wife in a sanatorium, sent euphemistically ‘to the country’. It would become a rhythm of confinement. He would jaunt to the French Riv and hang out with all the sexy Ballet Russes dancers. While in the asylum she scribbled out an SOS to Ezra ...

Superchild

John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... enough. Always hurry. I am now going in, to see L. and say stay this moment. Her going in to see Leonard, and murmur to him her version of the line from Faust, moves us more than the idea itself. Ever since the Romantics the notion of being a passive recorder, a chameleon, a Proteus of the fire and flood, a vessel of negative capability, had not ceased to ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... talked about ‘The Significance of Bloomsbury as a Social and Cultural Group’. He accepted Leonard Woolf’s characterisation of Bloomsbury as consisting ‘of the upper levels of the professional middle class and county families, interpenetrated to a certain extent by the aristocracy’ with ‘an intricate tangle of ancient roots and tendrils ...

Jangling Monarchy

Tom Paulin: Milton and the Regicides, 8 August 2002

A Companion to Milton 
by Thomas N. Corns.
Blackwell, 528 pp., £80, June 2001, 0 631 21408 9
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The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography 
by Barbara K. Lewalski.
Blackwell, 816 pp., £25, December 2000, 0 631 17665 9
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... in a triumphant parade led by three hundred cavalry in cloth of silver. This royal triumph, John Leonard notes in a clever essay on ‘self-contradicting puns’ in Paradise Lost, is evoked in Book Five: Meanwhile our primitive great sire, to meet His godlike guest, walks forth, without more train Accompanied than with his own complete Perfections, in ...

Everybody knows

Christina Gombar: Kate Jennings, 22 August 2002

Moral Hazard 
by Kate Jennings.
Fourth Estate, 180 pp., £10, April 2002, 1 84115 737 6
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... Mike tells her that derivatives are ‘freakish’ – straightforward gambling contracts. The Leonard Cohen song ‘Everybody Knows’ is his theme tune: everybody knows that what they’re doing is sleazy, risky and untenable; everybody knows that someday it’s going to implode. Getting the world of work right in fiction is difficult. Get bogged down in ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Spengler

Tom Nairn, 24 January 1980

An Unfinished History of the World 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 700 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 241 10282 0
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... reference or their footnote helplessly adrift from its moorings. Priests of the cause like Leonard Schapiro, Hayek and Carlos Rangel are caught and mangled like everybody else. The author’s lengthy meditations at II Trebbio (responsible for much of the book’s message, we learn in the Preface) did not leave him time to learn the correct Tuscan for ...

One Night in Maidenhead

Jean McNicol, 30 October 1997

Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits 
by Terry Castle.
Columbia, 150 pp., £15.95, November 1996, 0 231 10596 7
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Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall 
edited by Joanne Glasgow.
New York, 273 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 8147 3092 2
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Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 434 pp., £25, June 1997, 9780719554087
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... kind and so wise’. After Batten’s death the two women made frequent visits to a medium, Gladys Leonard, seeking forgiveness for Ladye’s death and a blessing for their own relationship (seeking in the supernatural a means of legitimation, just as Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain had done). In 1919 they published an account of their experiences in the ...

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