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Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bad Manners, 6 July 2000

... of the heart, but not one of the palate.’ Whoever s/he was can’t have read Fielding, In Tom Jones (1749), ‘what is commonly called love’ is defined as ‘the desire of satisfying a voracious appetite with a certain quantity of delicate white human flesh’. Not all of the ‘gems’ concern table manners; that’s just one of eleven chapters. Other ...

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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... and furiously defended the Liberal cause at the Punch table. John himself had been at Eton with Alan Pryce-Jones, Anthony Powell, Eric Blair and Cyril Connolly, who, we are told, stood at the door of his room in the Sixth Form Passage asking, ‘Well, Johnny Lehmann, how are you this afternoon?’ While he was at Trinity ...

Vous êtes belle

Penelope Fitzgerald, 8 January 1987

Alain-Fournier: A Brief Life 1886-1914 
by David Arkell.
Carcanet, 178 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 85635 484 8
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Henri Alain-Fournier: Towards the Lost Domain: Letters from London 1905 
translated by W.J. Strachan.
Carcanet, 222 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 85635 674 3
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The Lost Domain 
by Henri Alain-Fournier, translated by Frank Davison.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 212262 2
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... it is, is not a book for children. In 1959, in the World’s Classics, it had an introduction by Alan Pryce-Jones, who saw the book as ‘the last novel of idyllic love which is likely to have universal appeal’. He considered that nothing in it came up to the opening scenes, which established the ‘magic ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Who’s the arts minister?, 5 April 2001

... he presumably means Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, rather than Alan Howarth, the Arts Minister and ex-Tory, but you can hardly blame Lord Bragg for his confusion: when Smith took over the post from Virginia Bottomley in May 1997, he was officially in charge of National Heritage, a department which had subsumed the Arts after ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Is it just me?, 1 December 2005

... copy of Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit? The Encyclopedia of Modern Life by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur (Time Warner, £9.99). Some of the entries in Is It Just Me . . . ? that have also – or at any rate might well have – appeared on Spoons are: Tony Blair, chick-lit, city breaks, Sofia Coppola, Alain de Botton, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Tracey ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Ian Blair and the IPCC, 6 April 2006

... page: ‘Top police “clear” Met chief over Menezes.’ In a long interview with the paper, Alan Given, the former second-in-command of Scotland Yard’s Central Operations unit, insisted that Blair didn’t realise the police had killed an innocent man until the following day – and no one else in the Met did, either. Given, who retired a few days ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: TV Lit, 15 November 2001

... trickery. Maybe it would work better on TV; but Richard Fleming could never compete with Alan Partridge. What is so good about Partridge is not only that Knowing Me, Knowing You spoofed its targets so brilliantly – after it, radio and TV can never sound the same again; not that broadcasting has taken any notice – but that its host was so ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Ukip’s wrinkly glitz, 4 November 2004

... largely responsible for the party’s half-decent performance in the European elections in June. Alan Sked, the LSE lecturer who founded the party in 1993 and left it in despair in 1997, has described it in its current form as a bunch of ‘aged xenophobes’, ‘meaningless fuddy duddies with very little intelligence’. A freelance canvasser I encountered ...

Powerful People

D.A.N. Jones, 15 October 1987

Anthills of the Savannah 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 233 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 434 00604 1
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Familiar Wars 
by Julietta Harvey.
Joseph, 251 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 7181 2823 0
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Lenin: The Novel 
by Alan Brien.
Secker, 703 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 436 06840 0
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... touches, ripples, curves and smiles’. There are soft touches like that to lighten the load of Alan Brien’s enormous, fact-studded novel about Lenin’s life, from 1886 to 1923. Lenin describes a German carnival scene in 1901, choosing his words carefully, as if he were a theatre reviewer. In 1917 he swims in a Finnish lake and is ...


Thomas Jones: Alan Hollinghurst, 6 May 2004

The Line of Beauty 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 501 pp., £16.99, April 2004, 9780330483209
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... takes a lively movement in making it with pen or pencil. Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty (1753) Alan Hollinghurst’s first novel, The Swimming Pool Library (1988), is set during the summer of 1983. The narrator, William Beckwith, is a young aristocrat of leisure. He lives in Holland Park, swims at the Corinthian Club, a gay gym on Great Russell Street ...

Flitting About

Thomas Jones: Alan Furst, 14 December 2006

The Foreign Correspondent 
by Alan Furst.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £12.99, November 2006, 0 297 84829 1
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... Alan Furst’s much-admired thrillers are set in Continental Europe during the Second World War and the years leading up to it. His heroes are more likely to be journalists, film producers or novelists than professional spies or rugged military types, though the protagonist of Dark Voyage (2004) is a fairly rugged merchant seaman ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Statistics and reading, 21 September 2000

... is the million dollars.’ A million dollars is allegedly what Little, Brown in the States paid Alan Watt for his first novel, Diamond Dogs, out at the end of the month (Duckworth in the UK, £9.99). The story begins: ‘I was angry. We were all at Fred Billings’s house. He lived in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Carmen. His father raised ...

Instead of a Present

Alan Bennett, 15 April 1982

... not feel at home here he would not feel out of place among streets like Greene and Grand and Great Jones, the cast-iron district which I see from my window. I would give him, too, any work by Edward Hopper, whose paintings could often pass as illustrations to the poems of Larkin; and in particular People in the Sun (1960). Finally, something I saw scrawled up ...

Mixed Blood

D.A.N. Jones, 2 December 1982

Her Victory 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 590 pp., £8.95, September 1982, 0 246 11872 5
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This Earth of Mankind 
by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by Max Lane.
Penguin, 338 pp., £2.50, August 1982, 9780140063349
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... surprising to see the resemblances between Her Victory and This Earth of Mankind. Alan Sillitoe’s new novel is about 50-year-old Britons feeling rootless. Pramoedya Ananta Toer is concerned with young people of the Dutch East Indies in the 1890s, almost choked with different roots – religions, races, cultures, classes – all sprouting ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones, 4 April 1985

The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... her broomstick, and make the literary point that the Wharton Hall blague sounds rather like one of Alan Bennett’s fantasies. Michael Wharton is an admirer of Alan Bennett, as he made clear in the ‘Peter Simple’ column recently, while offering assistance to an Oxford phonetician on a visit to Leeds University to record ...

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