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Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... adjoining table had been Don Bachardy, so I go back in and have a word, last having seen him with Christopher Isherwood 35 years ago. Then he was an olive-skinned doe-eyed boy who came round and did a drawing of me. Now he looks exactly as lsherwood did, even down to the little schoolboy sprout of hair at the back. A propos Pinochet, anybody brought up ...

Sounding Auden

Seamus Heaney, 4 June 1987

... here is his ambition to write a new kind of English poem with what he described in his poem to Christopher Isherwood as a ‘strict and adult pen’. Elaborating on this, in his introduction to The Auden Generation, Samuel Hynes characterises the sought-after new art as follows: ‘Auden was urging a kind of writing that would be ...

Admiring

Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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Loving 
by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... Green told his interviewer that ‘the writer must be disengaged’, and enjoyed pointing out that Christopher Isherwood, who called Living ‘the best proletarian novel ever written’, had never worked in a factory himself. Pontifex’s own employees, having rumbled the fact that Yorke and Green were the same, weren’t so impressed. ‘I read your ...

Madly Excited

John Bayley, 1 June 1989

The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. I: 1904-1939 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 783 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 224 02654 2
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... days his wedding (to which he had invited a great number of people, though he forgot his cousin Christopher Isherwood) and his career as critic and embryo publisher seemed more promising than his future as author. Early novels flopped. There was no sudden success like that of his fellow adventurer Evelyn Waugh. One suspects that before the formula was ...

In the Graveyard of Verse

William Wootten: Vernon Watkins, 9 August 2001

The Collected Poems of Vernon Watkins 
Golgonooza, 495 pp., £16.95, October 2000, 0 903880 73 3Show More
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... Thomas, he was an eager perpetrator of New Romanticism. Watkins was at Repton and Cambridge with Christopher Isherwood, and makes a cameo appearance as the gullible Percival in Lions and Shadows. Nevertheless, he had little in common with the Auden generation or with Cambridge. His last eighteen months at school were, in retrospect, an idyll, but the ...

The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... to premature autobiography.’ Precocious Beverley Nichols headed the field with Twenty-Five while Christopher Isherwood and Cyril Connolly wisely allowed another ten years of their lives to elapse before they wrote, respectively, Lions and Shadows and Enemies of Promise. Hillier publishes long sections of Summoned by Bells which were excised, including ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal, 10 May 2007

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... succeed? Suppressed love as the engine for Vidal’s enormous output? Fifty years ago, Vidal told Christopher Isherwood that he was an enemy of love. It involved too much entanglement; and entanglements of any kind, whether they are conducted by an individual or by the US government, were too European for this American, for whom everything personal has a ...

Bobby-Dazzling

Ian Sansom, 17 July 1997

W.H. Auden: Prose 1926-38, Essays and Reviews and Travel Books in Prose and Verse 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 836 pp., £40, March 1997, 0 571 17899 5
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... and during that time he published The Orators (1932), The Dance of Death (1933) and, with Christopher Isherwood, The Dog beneath the Skin (1935), as well as writing most of the poems which were to appear in Look, Stanger (1936). It was the period of the great outpouring of his talent, and, as this first volume of his collected Prose reveals, much ...

Dastardly Poltroons

Jonathan Fenby: Madame Chiang Kai-shek, 21 October 2010

The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China 
by Hannah Pakula.
Weidenfeld, 787 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 297 85975 8
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... Chiang and her husband when he and Auden were visiting China to report on the war with Japan, Christopher Isherwood wrote that she can become at will the cultivated, Westernised woman with a knowledge of literature and art; the technical expert, discussing aeroplane engines and machine-guns; the inspector of hospitals; the president of a ...

Triumph of the Poshocracy

Susan Pedersen: Britain between the Wars, 8 August 2013

The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-45 
by Helen McCarthy.
Manchester, 282 pp., £65, November 2011, 978 0 7190 8616 8
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A Lark for the Sake of Their Country: The 1926 General Strike Volunteers in Folklore and Memory 
by Rachelle Hope Saltzman.
Manchester, 262 pp., £65, April 2012, 978 0 7190 7977 1
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... job, the volunteers’ readiness to have a week’s fun driving trains had a nasty undertone. Christopher Isherwood, remembering the episode in Lions and Shadows two decades later, thought it revealed not the splendid sanity and patriotism of the British but how deeply entrenched the class system was. For ‘the Poshocracy had won, as it always did ...

Hug me till you drug me

Alex Harvey: Aldous Huxley, 5 May 2016

After Many a Summer 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 035 5
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Time Must Have a Stop 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 305 pp., £9.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 034 8
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The Genius and the Goddess 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 127 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 036 2
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... trousers and a battered hat with a brim that hid her face’; the visiting Bertrand Russell; Christopher Isherwood; and Huxley’s favourite mystic, Krishnamurti, accompanied by a retinue of Theosophists and vegetarian catering ladies in saris. While his guests looked like pixies ‘on a spree’, according to Loos, Huxley himself resembled a ...

Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift, 7 October 2010

The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... physical decline. In his diary entry for 24 September 1956, a few months after the accident, Christopher Isherwood lamented Clift’s lost looks, but blamed the ravages of self-indulgence. Indeed what with the booze, the chain-smoking, the prescription pills, the years, it’s a wonder he still looked so good. It seems crass to admit it, but despite ...

Mysteries of the City

Mark Ford: Baudelaire and Modernity, 21 February 2013

Baudelaire: The Complete Verse 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Anvil, 470 pp., £10.95, January 2012, 978 0 85646 427 0
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Baudelaire: Paris Blues/Le Spleen de Paris 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Anvil, 332 pp., £10.95, January 2012, 978 0 85646 429 4
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Seeing Double: Baudelaire’s Modernity 
by Françoise Meltzer.
Chicago, 264 pp., £29, May 2011, 978 0 226 51988 3
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... the double image that Baudelaire’s writings so often convey, a contradictoriness summed up by Christopher Isherwood in the 1946 preface to his translation of Baudelaire’s Journaux intimes: What kind of a man wrote this book? A deeply religious man, whose blasphemies horrified the orthodox. An ex-dandy, who dressed like a condemned convict. A ...

After-Time

Christopher Hitchens, 19 October 1995

Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... is set down in a terse, almost shorthand style, we learn that Forster had been cruel as a cat to Christopher Isherwood the night before, that he had sucked up to Williams in a queenly manner and that, in the opinion of ‘The Bird’ (Vidal’s usual term for Tennessee’s person of plumage and flutter), he was an old gentleman ‘with urinestained ...

Taking sides

Karl Miller, 17 April 1980

W.H. Auden: The Life of a Poet 
by Charles Osborne.
Eyre Methuen, 336 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 413 39670 3
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... plenty of items relating to the poet’s promiscuous sex life: at the same time, he observes what Christopher Ricks has identified as an honourable Victorian reticence as to the inner life and motives of his subject. In other words, his way with facts is such that reticence and candour meet, and that, apart from the details of publication and ...

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