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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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... until the Forties. They were aided by films (and in the Forties and Fifties a TV series) starring William Boyd – a star who in the geriatric last stages of his career had barely a hop left in him. At the crucial stage of Zane Grey’s career, 1905-8, Lina took charge as her husband’s literary agent, editor and financial patron. Using his wife’s ...

Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen, 14 January 2002

Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
by Damien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care 
by Lee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
by Christopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... shoot a gun and look comfortable in front of the camera. There was no direction to speak of. William Boyd, who played Hopalong Cassidy, was, as Lee Server notes in his extremely long but enjoyable Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care, ‘a scrupulous underplayer’, who made everything he did look natural and never upstaged or demanded ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... of Stars and Bars, in the defeated land of Robert E. Lee, where Sherman marched so ruthlessly. William Boyd’s title will suggest Hollywood to some – but a Virginian, seeing me carrying it about, sighed ‘Ah, the old flag’ and became unusually pensive. He began telling me about the Civil War, beginning: ‘The first thing you have to understand ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... literally – is so various. The battlefields just aren’t recognisable. A few writers, such as William Boyd in An Ice-Cream War, have remembered that the First World War, too, was geographically far-flung, but its locus classicus will always be the grim zigzag of trenches crawling from Belgium to Switzerland, a kind of negative image of the great ...


Rob Nixon, 4 April 1996

A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary 
by Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Penguin, 256 pp., £6.99, December 1995, 9780140258684
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... ambitions high. In one of his final letters from detention, he assured his friend, the novelist William Boyd: There’s no doubt that my idea will succeed in time, but I’ll have to bear the pain of the moment ... the most important thing for me is that I’ve used my talents as a writer to enable the Ogoni people to confront their tormentors. I was ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... Ask who the leading young British novelists are and you may well be told Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, William Boyd, Julian Barnes. Given that writers typically have long careers and get better with age, ‘young’ is not entirely a misnomer applied here. Like politicians, novelists can be youthful long after the point at which the careers of athletes or ...

Soul Bellow

Craig Raine, 12 November 1987

More die of heartbreak 
by Saul Bellow.
Alison Press/Secker, 335 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 436 03962 1
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... now was flavoured with the essences belonging to, for example, Peter Ackroyd, Anita Brookner, William Boyd, Anthony Burgess and Peter Hall. This is typical, alas. First repetition: Kenneth has left Paris, even though his father has promised to introduce him to the ‘agent who had forced Tsvetaeva’s husband to work for the GPU’. Kenneth prefers ...

Cloche Hats and Perms

Bee Wilson: Bonnie and Clyde, 10 September 2009

Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde 
by Jeff Guinn.
Simon and Schuster, 467 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84737 134 8
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... One day that April, after a shoot-out, Bonnie and Clyde kidnapped a police officer called Percy Boyd. They became fond of him – Bonnie bandaged his head wound in the back seat and gave him a clean shirt to replace one that was spattered with blood. Even though he was one of the ‘laws’, Bonnie trusted Boyd enough to ...


Susan Pedersen, 6 October 2011

Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... am an American, one of those interlopers whose contribution to British history has been, in Boyd Hilton’s words, ‘respectable at best’) – I stand at a slight distance from them. The three men honoured in these books seem cast in a common mould. All were born in the early 1940s and did DPhils at Oxford, although McKibbin arrived there from ...

Abishag’s Revenge

Steven Shapin: Who wants to live for ever?, 26 March 2009

Mortal Coil: A Short History of Living Longer 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Yale, 308 pp., £18.99, June 2008, 978 0 300 11778 3
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... at 122. The old man was famous enough to be presented to the king, who ordered the royal physician William Harvey to perform an autopsy on him when he died in 1635. He was buried at Westminster Abbey and a poem was written about him by a forerunner of William McGonagall: He is a Wonder, worthy Admiration, He’s (in these ...

Black Art

Robin Kinross, 31 March 1988

Twentieth-Century Type Designers 
by Sebastian Carter.
Trefoil, 168 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 86294 076 1
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Letters of Credit: A View of Type Design 
by Walter Tracy.
Gordon Fraser, 224 pp., £16.50, July 1986, 0 86092 085 2
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... to have been squeezed out by the rise of mechanised processes and of merely economic calculation. William Morris’s Kelmscott Press represented this new impulse most forcefully. Its immediate legacy was the diversion (not at all wished for by Morris) of private press printing: unwanted texts, preciously dressed for the investor’s market. But the more ...

The Politics of Translation

Marina Warner: Translate this!, 11 October 2018

This Little Art 
by Kate Briggs.
Fitzcarraldo, 365 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 910695 45 6
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Translation as Transhumance 
by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz.
Les Fugitives, 150 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 0 9930093 3 4
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Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto 
by Mark Polizzotti.
MIT, 168 pp., £17.99, May 2018, 978 0 262 03799 0
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The 100 Best Novels in Translation 
by Boyd Tonkin.
Galileo, 304 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 903385 67 8
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The Work of Literary Translation 
by Clive Scott.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £75, June 2018, 978 1 108 42682 4
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... points out that in his version of Calvino’s short story collection Cosmicomics, William Weaver translates tagliatelle as ‘noodles’, which would hardly be felt necessary today). Julian Barnes, in a tough and very thorough review of Lydia Davis’s translation of Flaubert, summed up the issue: ‘If you want the book in ...

A Place for Hype

Edward Tenner: Old Technology, 10 May 2007

The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 
by David Edgerton.
Profile, 270 pp., £18.99, January 2007, 978 1 86197 296 5
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... to 2000. Treatments improve, but no cure is in sight. Bacteria remain just as alarming. In 1969, William Stewart, the US surgeon general, believed we could soon ‘close the book on infectious diseases’. But overuse of antibacterial agents helped to promote resistance to antibiotics, leading to today’s multiresistant bacteria, the superbugs of newspaper ...

The Sage of Polygon Road

Claire Tomalin, 28 September 1989

The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Vols I-VII 
edited by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler.
Pickering & Chatto, 2530 pp., £245, August 1989, 1 85196 006 6
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... about the same time a mural appeared in Somers Town, in which she figures, as well as her husband William Godwin, their daughter Mary Shelley, and a crowd of later locals which includes Dickens, who lived there as a child, though sadly not Hazlitt, whose Liber Amoris is set in Somers Town. The mural is the work of the artist Karen Gregory. It’s on the side ...

A Plumless Pudding

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

... in 1942. The NLS has been similarly conscientious in its stewardship of the Constable, Oliver and Boyd, and Smith, Elder records. The library’s long-term aim is to create a coherent historical archive of Scottish publishing. Last year, John Murray came to it suggesting a sale of his firm’s archive by private treaty. Founded in 1768, and presided over ever ...

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