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15 May 1980
Tariff Reform in British Politics 
by Alan Sykes.
Oxford, 352 pp., £16, December 1979, 0 19 822483 4
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... of a providential right to govern, ‘in power or in opposition’, as Balfour once observed, it was a strange, anarchic, self-destructive phase. Much new light is shed on these mysteries by AlanSykes’s fascinating new book, which covers the 1903-13 period. He traces again the now familiar story of Joseph Chamberlain’s crusade for tariff reform, which captivated the party faithful and captured ...
4 March 1982
Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... we produce slight works that they think insubstantial and sloppy: they research minutely and accumulate so many tiny shrubs that, in our opinion, the outline of the forest is lost. Our Christopher Sykes set the tone in 1975 when he described the (American) Evelyn Waugh Newsletter as ‘overloaded with pedantic debate about trifles’. I have not seen the Newsletter’s review of his official ...

Country Life

David Cannadine

5 November 1981
The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... the international economy in agricultural products, and the impact which these developments had on the appearance of the landscape and on patterns of population growth and migration. R.J. Olney and Alan Gilbert investigate those two bastions of the English landed establishment, the county constituencies and the Church of England; and Messrs Howell, Gray and Cullen survey agriculture, tenurial ...

Diary

Alan​ Bennett: What I did in 2012

3 January 2013
... flag on each cheek and on her forehead and colours them in. This is done so unselfconsciously and without a smile R. feels that for this alone they deserve to win. Brian, Stewie, David Mamet, Alan Bennett and Yasmina Reza in Family Guy. 25 April. At five a car comes to take me down to Silk studios on Berwick Street to record a voiceover (of my own voice) for an episode of Family Guy, the ...
7 July 1988
Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... What’s wrong with you, Betjeman, is that you’ve no starl. No sense of starl.’ He was taken up by Maurice Bowra, and through him grew friendly with Kenneth Clark, John Sparrow, Henry Yorke, Alan Pryce-Jones, Osbert Lancaster, Robert Byron, Anthony Powell, Peter Quennell, Tom Driberg, Harold Acton, Christopher Sykes, Randolph Churchill, W.H. Auden, and lots of others, including Gaitskell once ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry

4 October 2001
Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... Safer and more plausible to blame the whole of his poetic condition on Blake. At Oxford in 1929 he had discovered and explored the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience with the musician John Sykes, who was setting them at the time; his single major contribution to Left Review in the 1930s was an essay on the prophetic books called ‘The Imputation of Madness’. He carried the considerable ...
17 October 1985
Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... think of the secret services as farce or fiction. What is one to make of an organisation whose leaders have names like Dummy Oliver, Blinker Hall, Biffy Dunderdale, Lousy Payne, Buster Milmo, Pay Sykes, Tar Robertson, Barmy Russel and Quex Sinclair (not to be confused with his successor but one, Sinbad Sinclair)? It’s no good reassuring the reader that in the transition from Victorian days, when ...
22 August 1996
The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... they pull in their horns, or flash their thighs? Will the veterans of Private Eye, Ingrams, Waugh and Wells, remember where they are? (They are no trouble at all, handling Muggeridge, Christopher Sykes and Douglas Cleverdon with tact and perspicacity.) Alan Bennett still smoulders over the tabloid oafs who pursued Russell Harty. He disdains to specify ‘the gravestone vulgarity’ from which Harty ...
20 June 1985
... To Waugh, theology, the liturgy, the four last things and the most terrible images of the Christian faith were constantly before his eyes: he refers to them time and again in his letters. Christopher Sykes teased Waugh once by suggesting that Hell must be his favourite dogma. ‘If,’ he replied, ‘we were allowed “favourite dogmas” it might be. If you mean I see nothing to doubt in it and no ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust

19 July 2018
Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... outstanding, are considerably longer than her Life of Powell. Would the difference be due to her relationship with the subject, a close friend whom for many years she knew and admired – Christopher Sykes on Waugh is the nearest parallel? In such cases, affection can shape the compass of a biography, personal knowledge lighting up but also limiting what can be said. Perhaps there are traces of that ...

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