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The Vulgarity of Success

Murray Sayle: Everest and Empire, 7 May 1998

Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond 
by Peter Steele.
Constable, 290 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 09 478300 4
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... India 1830-43, has caught on. At least we have been spared the name of Sir George’s successor, Andrew Waugh, who calculated that Everest, at 29,028 feet and still putting on an inch or so a year, is by a good margin the world’s highest mountain. On that rainy night in New York, however, something snapped. It was late, Mallory was tired. ‘I could see ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... men who were Apostles, which of them were homosexuals and so on, Cornish dodgily assuming, as did Andrew Boyle and John Costello before him, that homosexuality is itself a bond and that if two men can be shown to be homosexual the likelihood is that they’re sleeping together. So we trail down that road looking for cliques and coteries with even ...

Think Tiny

Mark Ford: Nancification, 17 July 2008

The Nancy Book 
by Joe Brainard.
Siglio, 144 pp., $39.50, April 2008, 978 0 9799562 0 1
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... of a house (that of Brainard’s partner Kenward Elmslie in Calais, Vermont) in a mock allusion to Andrew Wyeth’s poster-friendly Christina’s World. Brilliant as these are, the process of oil painting appears to have made Brainard aware that he lacked a certain self-belief, or egotism, a quality which painters determined at all costs to be great seemed to ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan, 16 February 1984

The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... deliberately excluded from consideration.’ It’s a well-timed question, with Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion’s advocacy of narrative in The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry being so widely and respectfully read, and well-directed too, since it clarifies what’s confused in the Penguin introduction by the editors’ simultaneous recommendation ...

Empty Cookie Jar

Donald MacKenzie: Ethnoaccountancy, 22 May 2003

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron 
by Robert Bryce.
PublicAffairs, 394 pp., £9.99, November 2002, 1 903985 54 4
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Enron: The Rise and Fall 
by Loren Fox.
Wiley, 384 pp., £18.50, October 2002, 0 471 23760 4
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... turns to ‘trust in numbers’ (the title of an important book on these questions by Theodore Porter). Numbers are pervasive in finance and beyond: share prices; price-earnings ratios (a key criterion for professional investors); bond ratings (which are not literally numbers, but have a quasi-numeric ‘hard fact’ quality); school and hospital league ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... and the libel laws to avoid prosecution, and Waugh felt the press had been craven. In 1977 Andrew Newton, the comically incompetent hit man who had missed Scott but killed his dog, Rinka, was released from prison and started hawking his story round the papers. Thorpe, as anxious to deny his homosexuality as the charge of attempted murder, set out to ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... purely private mission of exploration it might be right for the Englishman to execute a bad native porter to encourage the others.’ In his last novel, Sick Heart River (1941), described by his secretary as ‘so unlike him, so introspective’, the dying Sir Edward Leithen spends his last days saving indigenous Canadians in the name of ‘the brotherhood of ...

Violets in Their Lapels

David A. Bell: Bonapartism, 23 June 2005

The Legend of Napoleon 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Granta, 336 pp., £20, August 2004, 1 86207 667 7
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The Retreat 
by Patrick Rambaud, translated by William Hobson.
Picador, 320 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 330 48901 1
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Napoleon: The Eternal Man of St Helena 
by Max Gallo, translated by William Hobson.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £10.99, April 2005, 0 333 90798 1
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The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in 19th-Century France 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Harvard, 307 pp., £32.95, May 2004, 0 674 01341 7
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Napoleon and the British 
by Stuart Semmel.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 09001 3
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... mainstream French democracy than the American-style ‘populism’ practised by politicians from Andrew Jackson to George W. Bush. The word populiste is a deadly insult, most recently deployed by socialists and Chiraquiens alike against anyone who dares interpret the result of the referendum on the European Constitution as a vote of no confidence in the ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord, 24 June 2010

... au Magistrat’, though without saying where or when. I am grateful to the sharp eyes of Andrew Wilson, who spotted the Mountjoy reference by chance (or by alphabetical serendipity: he was researching a family ancestor called Merryweather) and kindly shared it with me. The story, such as it can be reconstructed, is contained in two sets of court ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... poems such as ‘The Song of the Honey Bee’, written for the short-lived marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, or ‘A Masque for Three Voices’, composed in honour of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. Yet even at his worst, as in these lines from the survey of 20th-century history he includes in his tribute to the Queen Mum, one can’t help ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... dad’s a doctor; he’s a nurse. A gardener.’ Yasin’s father, Abdulaziz, 52, was actually a porter at University College Hospital. His mother, Faouzia, was involved in the sewing group at the Westway Trust. ‘She sat by the window,’ a colleague said, ‘dropping a stitch when she saw something funny outside.’ R.D.’s family were from Casablanca ...

Open in a Scream

Colm Tóibín, 4 March 2021

Francis Bacon: Revelations 
by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.
William Collins, 869 pp., £30, January, 978 0 00 729841 9
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... and moved to a cottage in Hampshire, in a village called Steep, where he lived for two years. Andrew Sinclair, in Francis Bacon: His Life and Violent Times (1993), includes a few sentences on his stay. Daniel Farson, in The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon (also 1993), gives it a passing reference. Michael Peppiatt, in Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an ...

What I heard about Iraq in 2005

Eliot Weinberger: Iraq, 5 January 2006

... clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.’ I heard Porter J. Goss, director of the CIA, say that the insurgents were ‘not quite in the last throes, but I think they are very close to it.’ I heard Dick Cheney later explain: ‘If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent ...

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