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Ancient Exploitation

Christopher Hill, 4 February 1982

The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: from the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests 
by G.E.M. de Ste Croix.
Duckworth, 732 pp., £38, December 1981, 0 7156 0738 3
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... and fall of the Roman Empire was accelerated by the social conflicts which he depicts? Let us hope that the young will read him, despite the length and the cumbrous organisation of his book, and despite its alarming price. An abbreviated paperback soon would seem to be the ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: Reagan and Rambo, 3 October 1985

... debate. It is a very rare night that does not feature some strong footage from the Cape of Good Hope, usually succeeded by some strenuous punditry. American networks easily make up in technological sweetness what they have abandoned by way of political depth, and some real feats have been accomplished. By satellite, and by the deft use of separate studios ...

It wasn’t a dream

Ned Beauman: Christopher Priest, 10 October 2013

The Adjacent 
by Christopher Priest.
Gollancz, 432 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 575 10536 2
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... of the shortlist for last year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel, Christopher Priest wrote on his blog that part of the award’s purpose is to prove to ‘the larger world’ that science fiction ‘is a progressive, modern literature, with diversity and ambition and ability, and not the pool of generic rehashing that the many ...

Diary

Christopher de Bellaigue: ‘Mummy est morte’, 19 March 2020

... of his stairs wearing the red leather slippers and grey cardigan that meant he was off duty. ‘Christopher,’ he greeted me in a kindly voice. ‘Hello, sir,’ I said, with a vague sense of relief that I wasn’t to be punished. He was holding the telephone receiver. ‘It’s your father on the telephone.’‘...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Hitchens Principle, 21 March 2019

... and sometimes dangerousness of religious belief. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens: over the previous few years each had published a bestselling book condemning religion, and they were all rather pleased with themselves. Dawkins’s The God Delusion alone, with its compelling argument that God is the Ultimate Boeing ...

Australia’s Nineties

Clive James, 15 July 1982

Christopher Brennan: A Critical Biography 
by Axel Clark.
Melbourne, 358 pp., £20, May 1980, 0 522 84182 1
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... No Australian poet before Christopher Brennan was fully conscious of the artistic problem posed by isolation from Europe, and no Australian poet since has been fully disabled by it. Brennan’s life and death dramatised the problem once and for all. It was and is a true problem, not just a difficulty. Brennan, whether he wanted to or not, lived the problem to the full, and thereby, on everybody else’s behalf, got it out into the open ...

Lyrics and Ironies

Christopher Ricks, 4 December 1986

The Alluring Problem: An Essay on Irony 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 178 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 19 212253 3
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Czeslaw Milosz and the Insufficiency of Lyric 
by Donald Davie.
Cambridge, 76 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 521 32264 2
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... themselves than as furnishing the perfect polemical points de repère; over the years the poems of Christopher Middleton, of J.H. Prynne, and of C.H. Sisson, have all found themselves not so much constituting the grounds of Davie’s argument as figuring in it. But Milosz is too stubborn and faceted to be functionalised, even in the most high-minded way, and ...

Here comes Amy

Christopher Reid, 17 April 1986

What the light was like 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 110 pp., £4, February 1986, 0 571 13814 4
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Facing Nature 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 110 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 233 97798 8
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Nero 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 128 pp., £4.95, November 1985, 0 224 02346 2
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V. 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, 36 pp., £8.95, December 1985, 0 906427 98 3
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Dramatic Verse: 1973-1985 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, 448 pp., £20, December 1985, 0 906427 81 9
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Sky Ray Lolly 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 7011 3046 6
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The Tower of Glass 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Mariscat, £3, September 1985, 0 946588 07 4
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Making cocoa for Kingsley Amis 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 65 pp., £7.95, March 1986, 0 571 13977 9
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... inexhaustible in its gathering of perceptions and engendering of conceits, might have led one to hope that his verse would display something of the same unstoppable vitality: yet his earlier volumes showed him to be, at best, a competent dabbler in the art, turning out trim little verses that appeared to perform, for him, a function equivalent to Ingres’s ...

Bandini to Hackmuth

Christopher Tayler: John Fante, 21 September 2000

Ask the Dust 
by John Fante.
Rebel Inc, 198 pp., £6.99, September 1999, 0 86241 987 5
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Full of Life: A Biography of John Fante 
by Stephen Cooper.
Rebel Inc, 406 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 9781841950228
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... I felt her hatred. I could smell it, even hear it coming out of her, but I sneered again. ‘I hope so,’ I said. ‘Because there must be something pretty fine about a guy who rates your hatred.’ Then she said a strange thing; I remember it clearly. ‘I hope you die of heart failure,’ she said. ‘Right there in ...

A Pound a Glimpse

Daniel Smith: Epilepsy, 16 November 2017

A Smell of Burning: The Story of Epilepsy 
by Colin Grant.
Cape, 242 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 0 224 10182 0
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The End of Epilepsy? A History of the Modern Era of Epilepsy, 1860-2010 
by Dieter Schmidt and Simon Shorvon.
Oxford, 208 pp., £39.99, September 2016, 978 0 19 872590 9
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... to the genre, it was born out of anguish. When Grant was in his twenties, his teenage brother, Christopher, the youngest, most loved member of the family, began to have seizures. At first, Christopher’s seizures took the form of fainting spells. One moment he would be upright, the next on the floor, unconscious. Grant ...

Tiff and Dither

Michael Wood, 2 January 1997

Diaries. Vol. I: 1939-60 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Methuen, 1048 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 413 69680 4
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... make art out of self-effacement. This at least is one of the suggestions of the first volume of Christopher Isherwood’s Diaries, a whingeing, inward-bound mammoth of a book, where the author laboriously chronicles and inspects his every moment for changes in the moral and spiritual weather. Well, it can’t be his every moment, but it feels like it. Here ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode, 6 June 1985

The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... wordage as Day-Lewis and a lot less than Maugham. From Australia we have Patrick White but not Christopher Brennan or A.D. Hope. Elsewhere one notes the ample presence of D. Lessing and the absence of D. Jacobson; his near-namesake Roman Jakobson is in, and said to be still alive, though alas he is not. Why Auerbach and ...

Unreal City

Michael Wood, 7 October 1993

Paris and the 19th Century 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Blackwell, 283 pp., £35, June 1993, 0 631 15788 3
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... advertisements. No one lives in this carefully edited place, but it is full of people. I think (I hope) upbeat enjoyments of the tourist city are still possible – more possible, and more permissible, than Christopher Prendergast suggests – and they are surely more appealing than the glum romanticising of awfulness by ...

Is it always my fault?

Denis Donoghue: T.S. Eliot, 25 January 2007

T.S. Eliot 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 202 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 19 530993 5
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... impure and apt to confuse issues: hence the justification of writing books about books, in the hope of straightening things out. Craig Raine has made several attempts, over more than thirty years, to straighten things out in favour of Eliot’s reputation. He has published six essays, by my count, towards that end, starting with an appreciation of The ...

The Stansgate Tapes

John Turner, 8 December 1994

Years of HopeDiaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... politicians to serve present purposes by rearranging light and shade on the historical picture. Christopher Addison, for example, published an edited version of his war diaries in 1934, just as he was trying to cut a figure as a Labour frontbencher. The originals had recorded the private thoughts of a man who expected to be on the winning side after the ...

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