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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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... about Paris but about other cities, and about the business of thinking about cities. It explores urban perspectives high and low, hills, towers, sewers, markets, parks, canals, boulevards, barricades, shops, taking as its witnesses chiefly poets and novelists but also painters and photographers, and the authors of ...

Give us a break

Rosemarie Bodenheimer: Gissing’s Life, 9 July 2009

George Gissing: A Life 
by Paul Delany.
Phoenix, 444 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 0 7538 2573 0
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... to become contagious.’ This confession comes at the end of Delany’s engaging new biography of George Gissing, and suggests the special difficulty of spending long periods in the company of the English novelist most known for the relentless pessimism of his novels and the self-destructive tendencies of his life. The dean of Gissing studies, Pierre ...

Hauteur

Ian Gilmour: Britain and Europe, 10 December 1998

This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 333 57992 5
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... the war. Had she joined the Forces, she might have escaped what one of her disenchanted courtiers, George Urban, called her ‘Alf Garnett’ view of Germany. As of Hitler, Margaret Thatcher knew exactly what she thought of the European Community. She did not like international organisations as such. She disliked the United Nations and the ...

At Tate Modern

Peter Campbell: Good plain painting and men in shirt-sleeves, 24 June 2004

... is high-contrast black and white, best set the scene for his paintings. The paintings of George Bellows, say, who earlier recorded the look of urban America, do not imply narratives in the way Hopper’s do. His magazine illustrations and the drawings he made for his paintings have much in common. Both make you ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’, 12 September 2013

... Drink was a stabiliser. It somewhat reduced the fatal intensity.’ But Bellow was a wizard of urban reality who never understood the reality of drink and Laing rightly calls him on it. ‘The poems weren’t killing Berryman,’ she writes. ‘They didn’t cause delirium tremens, or give him gynaecomastia, or make him fall down flights of stairs, vomit ...

In Letchworth

Gillian Darley: Pevsner's Hertfordshire, 2 January 2020

... business park.My half-brother, nearly a generation older than me and with a dislike of everything urban, lived in Tudoresque suburban Hertfordshire all his working life. Recently I learned that his near neighbours were two of the most socially committed architects of postwar Britain, David and Mary Medd, who lived in a house they designed and built for ...

Prodigals

John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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Ralph 
by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... of The Rainbow’s, tracing the historical mutations of a locality from its natural to its urban (here 1930s) condition. The theme of the novel has other evident similarities with Sons and Lovers. Both deal with the emergence of artistic talent from working-class fetters. But in the way that he has chosen to tell A Prodigal Child, Storey defies ...

What the Dickens

F.S. Schwarzbach, 5 April 1990

The Letters of Charles Dickens. Vol. VI: 1850-1852 
edited by Graham Storey, Kathleen Tillotson and Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 909 pp., £80, June 1988, 0 19 812617 4
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... for the gift of a set of knives; another attempted to patch up his lapsed friendship with George Cruikshank, who had probably been offended by Dickens’s attacks on his temperance pamphlets; another was a long, newsy report to a Swiss friend he hadn’t seen in years and one more thanked a Scottish author for sending a book of literary lectures. All ...

Signora Zabaggy

Michael Rose, 2 August 1984

All Visitors Ashore 
by C.K. Stead.
Harvill, 150 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 00 271009 9
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A Trick of the Light 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Bodley Head, 204 pp., £7.95, July 1984, 0 370 30589 2
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Dividing Lines 
by Victor Sage.
Chatto, 166 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 7011 2811 9
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... brave attempt at a taxing subject. The opening pages of A Trick of the Light give us Wyn Douglas, George Grillet, and London. Douglas, marginal urban man, a fixer, a reporter, an intriguer, scurries about the underside of the city with plans for the dispossessed. ...

Street Wise

Pat Rogers, 3 October 1985

Hawksmoor 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 241 11664 3
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Paradise Postponed 
by John Mortimer.
Viking, 374 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 670 80094 5
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High Ground 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 156 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13681 8
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... say ‘Hawksmoor’ churches. These are Christ Church, Spitalfields; St Anne’s, Limehouse; St George-in-the-East; St Mary Woolnoth; St Alfege’s, Greenwich; and St George’s, Bloomsbury. Here the six murders occur in each era: always a virgin male, as the murderer’s occult creed demands. But there is to be a seventh ...
George Macaulay Trevelyan: A Memoir 
by Mary Moorman.
Hamish Hamilton, 253 pp., £9.95, April 1980, 0 241 10358 4
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Public and Private 
by Humphrey Trevelyan.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 241 10357 6
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... on one side, Unitarian on the other. All three Trevelyan brothers were unbelievers, but with George it was much more than mere absence of belief, it was a creed in its own right. ‘Two terrible things have happened this week,’ he was heard to say, ‘my son has bought a motorbike and my daughter has become a Christian.’ As a young don, he was turned ...

Warhol’s Respectability

Nicholas Penny, 19 March 1987

The Revenge of the Philistines 
by Hilton Kramer.
Secker, 445 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 436 23687 7
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Gilbert and George 
by Carter Ratcliff.
Thames and Hudson, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 500 27443 6
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British Art in the 20th Century 
edited by Susan Compton.
Prestel-Verlag (Munich), 460 pp., £16.90, January 1987, 3 7913 0798 3
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... lying, or writhing about, in clay – a ‘telltale sign,’ observes Kramer, ‘of an immaculate, urban middle-class upbringing’. Simonds moved on to making models of primitive landscapes filled with the ‘habitations of an imaginary race of migratory little people’ which have proved popular both with museums and with private collectors. I haven’t seen ...
Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 320 pp., $24.95, May 1996, 0 520 20407 7
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... days of his success, his black-faced, mammy-singing disciples included not only Eddie Cantor, George Burns, George Jessel and Sophie Tucker, but the future movie mogul Harry Cohn, the young Walter Winchell and his own older brother. Signed by the Shubert Brothers in 1911, Jolson was the first product of the bastard ...

A World of Waste

Philip Horne, 1 September 1983

The Proprietor 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 300 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 333 35111 8
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Slouching towards Kalamazoo 
by Peter De Vries.
Gollancz, 241 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 575 03306 1
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Marcovaldo 
by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 121 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 436 08272 1
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The Loser 
by George Konard, translated by Ivan Sanders.
Allen Lane, 315 pp., £8.95, August 1983, 0 7139 1599 4
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... is not necessarily greatest in imagining freedom: or rather, as in Ann Schlee’s novel and George Konrad’s, it is where social and psychological pressures are most intense that we get from art our purest expressions of freedom. In 1981 Ann Schlee published her first adult novel, Rhine Journey, a closely researched account of a strait-laced English ...
... Middle East, or those of America, now in a deep recession, plagued by poverty, joblessness, and an urban, education and health crisis of gigantic proportions. A war like this could only have occurred in a part of the world beset with huge inequities of endowment and rule, bearing within itself a history of promises postponed and endlessly betrayed for justice ...

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