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A History

Allan Massie, 19 February 1981

The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... James Kennaway’s last book, the novella Silence, begins like this:     The doctor thought: I wish I could believe her. I wish I could take her story at face value. I wish I could accept what the Sister had to say. I wish I could say I were a simple man, but none of us can say that any more ... The doctor is in a movie-house which he soon leaves to go to his son-in-law’s club:     On Sunday afternoons, in the wintertime, the club organised concerts ...

Cookson County

Rosalind Mitchison, 27 June 1991

The Hanging Tree 
by Allan Massie.
Heinemann, 346 pp., £13.99, November 1990, 0 434 45301 3
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Tiberius: The Memoirs of the Emperor 
by Allan Massie.
Hodder, 256 pp., £13.95, January 1991, 0 340 48788 7
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The Gillyflors 
by Catherine Cookson.
Bantam, 366 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 593 01726 9
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... slips in events and yet present us with personalities and relationships that are not believable. Allan Massie in The Hanging Tree, a sortie into the Borders in the Middle Ages, hinges a significant part of his plot on the issue of rape, in happy ignorance of the drastic limitations on the legal definition of rape in Medieval Scotland. Catherine Cookson ...

Bad Nights

D.A.N. Jones, 23 October 1986

The Casualty 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Chatto, 189 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780701129286
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Augustus 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 339 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 370 30757 7
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Gabriel’s Lament 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 331 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 224 02823 5
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The Mind and Body Shop 
by Frank Parkin.
Collins, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 217695 5
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... them deal with bed-wetting, a sad problem for sufferers and not much fun to read about. However, Allan Massie’s novel about Caesar Augustus may attract attention, if only for its grand ambition. The first Roman Emperor was only 18 when he began to take over the world and he was nearly eighty when he crowned his brilliant career by becoming a ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... all the view happens to include. What matters is the truthfulness of what it does show, and Allan Massie is strikingly detached and truthful, leaving it to the reader to observe and judge. Not that this means that in a literal sense he tells the truth about the Scottish landed classes. His subject is a way of life with very little sustenance in ...

Jean-Paul

Alan Hollinghurst, 19 November 1981

Gemini 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Anne Carter.
Collins, 452 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 00 221448 2
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The Death of Men 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 249 pp., £6.50, October 1981, 0 370 30339 3
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Tar Baby 
by Toni Morrison.
Chatto, 309 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7011 2596 9
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... anything, or is simply an overblown caprice, may depend on the susceptibilities of the reader. Allan Massie’s development as a novelist has been less ambitious, though with each novel he has become more solid, circumstantial and impressive. The Death of Men, his third, though it lacks the very individual mordant melancholy of The Last Peacock, is ...

MacDiarmid’s Sticks

C.H. Sisson, 5 April 1984

Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmid: The Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... A Scottish Poetry Book, compiled by Alan Bold, and Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse, edited by Allan Massie. Bold’s book, presumably intended for children, is illustrated in several styles, sometimes almost to the extinction of the poem. McGonagall gets three poems, about 170 lines in all, MacDiarmid five poems with about half that number. ...

Widowers on the Prowl

Tom Shippey: Britain after Rome, 17 March 2011

Britain after Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400-1070 
by Robin Fleming.
Allen Lane, 458 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 7139 9064 5
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... has stuck firmly in the work of popular novelists from Rosemary Sutcliff to Bernard Cornwell and Allan Massie, and (in this case with strident claims to historical accuracy) in movies like Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur (2004). Fleming ignores the phenomenon, and the scenario. It isn’t the only piece of historical tradition she rejects. Right at the ...

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