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Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... Adrian Room has garnered umpteen dedications, and some of them are of interest, but what is the point of unrolling them alphabetically as something purporting to be a dictionary? Abbott opens, and Zangwill closes, yet the book is not a work of reference. It is an anthology. A lazy piece of work, or of relaxation, and not just because its compiler has declined the effort of an imaginative ordering and has instead fallen back on A to zzzz ...
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 
edited by T.F. Hoad.
Oxford, 552 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780198611820
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Dictionary of Changes in Meaning 
by Adrian Room.
Routledge, 292 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7102 0341 1
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The Story of English 
by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert McNeil.
Faber/BBC, 384 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 563 20247 5
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Dictionary of American Regional English. Vol. I: Introduction and A-C 
edited by Frederic Cassidy.
Harvard, 903 pp., $60, July 1985, 0 674 20511 1
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... could bear the specific sense of ‘female infant’. This semantic shift is not mentioned in Adrian Room’s Dictionary of Changes in Meaning, but it seems to be one of the few things that have escaped his notice. There are books that please you greatly by telling you what you know already, and almost as much by telling you what you do not ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... James, the always reliable butler, deals with that, the illusion of a dedication to poetry. Adrian Wright, in this new biography, refers several times to Lehmann’s half-commitment (in spite of his energy) to the professional life he chose. Fieldhead was the magic enclosure to which, as an adult, he looked back, wishing that it might have been possible ...

Word-Processing

Stephen Wall, 12 September 1991

Hidden in the Heart 
by Dan Jacobson.
Bloomsbury, 182 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 0981 6
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A Landing on the Sun 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 670 83932 9
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... who think that once the erotic storm has passed everything will be as right as rain. The effect of Adrian Bested’s first meeting – or perhaps we had better say, in view of what happens on her living-room floor, his first encounter – with Diana is lasting, limiting and ultimately lethal. The wife of Rodney Foxborough, a ...
Prince Charming: A Memoir 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 340 pp., £20, September 1999, 9780571197682
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... There’s a moment in this book – some time in the 1960s – when Christopher Logue and Adrian Mitchell have been asked to Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk to do a poetry reading. They ring the doorbell and a liveried footman tells them that they should go to the servants’ entrance. ‘I said, let’s leave. “No,” Adrian said ...

At the Prado

Adrian West: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal, 22 February 2018

... compositions of ukiyo-e with his vibrant palette. In The Painter’s Children in the Japanese Room, he alternates between scrupulous modelling in the bent legs and fanning arm of his daughter, and abstraction in the blotches of fabric and the doll dropped on the floor. Flesh emerges enigmatically against the decorative surface. Especially enchanting are ...

Rhythm Method

Jenny Diski, 22 September 1994

R.D. Laing: A Biography 
by Adrian Laing.
Peter Owen, 248 pp., £25, August 1994, 0 7206 0934 8
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... me idle and useless when she found me reading. She objected to me spending too much time in my room, but if I walked into the living room she’d go silent and turn her back on me. She complained that I didn’t help out with the chores, but when, after that, I made a cup of tea after a meal, she poured it away and made ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Like a Prep School, 10 January 1991

... launching party for David Cannadine’s Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy in the Moses Room of the House of Lords on 22 October was the third occasion on which I had been inside that curious place since taking my seat as a hereditary member of it. The Moses Room is evidently so called because its walls depict, in ...

Dipper

Jason Harding: George Moore, 21 September 2000

George Moore, 1852-1933 
by Adrian Frazier.
Yale, 604 pp., £29.95, May 2000, 0 300 08245 2
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... more often than not as source material for whimsical and mildly defamatory character sketches. Adrian Frazier’s painstakingly researched new biography of Moore marks a considerable advance on Joseph Hone’s respectful but pedestrian 1936 standard biography and Tony Gray’s lively but unscholarly 1996 Life. Moore was born in 1852 into the West of ...

Fiction and Failure

Adrian Poole, 15 April 1982

Blind Understanding 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 159 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 0 09 146990 2
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Fifty Stories 
by Kay Boyle.
Penguin, 648 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 14 005922 9
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Unsolicited Gift 
by Jacqueline Simms.
Chatto, 151 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 7011 2616 7
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Nellie without Hugo 
by Janet Hobhouse.
Cape, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 01969 4
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Levitation: Five Fictions 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 436 25482 4
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... his wife. He is disappointed with it; the woman’s body is unradiant, ‘reduced, in this neat room, to a kind of propriety’. But he is pleased to be disappointed, we infer. The painting frames and reduces the prospect of grief, or guilt, or passion. It leaves him ‘bored rather than disturbed, but forced to shrug, to demonstrate to himself that these ...

Before Darwin

Harriet Ritvo, 24 May 1990

The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London 
by Adrian Desmond.
Chicago, 503 pp., £27.95, March 1990, 0 226 14346 5
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... in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. It is, however, a date that does not figure in Adrian Desmond’s masterful account of the initial rise and decline of evolutionary theory in Britain. While Darwin was still afloat on the Beagle, transmutation, as it was usually called in the 1820s and 1830s, had become a hot topic in some London scientific ...

Pretending to be the parlourmaid

John Bayley, 2 December 1993

Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell 
edited by Regina Marler, introduced by Quentin Bell.
Bloomsbury, 593 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 7475 1550 6
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... but she cautioned her lover against telling her sister anything. I found she had told Adrian [their younger brother], which means Duncan, all about the Ottoline affair. She hadn’t only given him a general sketch but had told him every detail. It doesn’t matter, I think, as Adrian tells me that Duncan is ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: ‘Hollywood Costume’, 20 December 2012

... photographers of haunting; Eugène Atget, who rarely shows the inhabitants of a Parisian street or room, dwells on the smiling mannequins in shop windows, wearing aprons and housemaids’ caps, or on an effigy of madame in a string of pearls and a tilted trilby. Fixed expressions and rigid bodies give the images an uncanny aura – something similar radiates ...

Ten Days that Shook Me

Alan Bennett, 15 September 1988

... writes for Boxing News), the poet Craig Raine (who doesn’t) and the playwright Sue Townsend of Adrian Mole fame. I had many misgivings about the trip, particularly in regard to creature comforts. I wondered, for instance, if the Russians had got round to mineral water. John Sturrock reassured me. ‘Haven’t you heard of Perrierstroika?’ The ...

The Whole Orang

Paul Smith, 12 March 1992

Darwin 
by Adrian Desmond and James Moore.
Joseph, 808 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 7181 3430 3
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... epoch in which any individual could singlehandedly precipitate a major shift in human thought. Adrian Desmond and James Moore place Darwin above Marx and Freud. It is hard to think of successors to that trinity of lone rangers in an age when research is financed by foundations and carried on by teams and generally mounted on the kind of scale where the ...

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