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The Egg-Head’s Egger-On

Christopher Hitchens: Saul Bellow keeps his word (sort of), 27 April 2000

Ravelstein 
by Saul Bellow.
Viking, 254 pp., £16.99, April 2000, 0 670 89131 2
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... to all but the meanest citizens of the republic of letters, the novel is an obelisk for the late Allan Bloom, author of the 1987 shocker, The Closing of the American Mind. This book, which was a late product or blooming of the University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought, argued that the American mind was closed because it had become so goddamned open ...

Awful but Cheerful

Gillian White: The Tentativeness of Elizabeth Bishop, 25 May 2006

Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments 
by Elizabeth Bishop, edited by Alice Quinn.
Farrar, Straus, 367 pp., £22.50, March 2006, 0 374 14645 4
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... for her Aunt Maud’s conversation and tries out the following: He was a man; he was a man; not a young man: along in years; well, like Uncle and me; along in years; well, along in years. He was a man; well, George, didn’t he say he was from Boston? Well, a nice man, you know; a nice type of man; I wish you could meet him; well there was something sort of ...

Walking among ghosts

Paul Fussell, 18 September 1980

The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... to go and read Wittgenstein and George Eliot have been spending delicious secret hours enjoying Allan Quatermain’s phlegmatic accounts of people crushed to death, impaled, dismembered and beheaded. (Anyone imagining that ‘violence’ in fiction and films is somehow modern or post-modern should re-read some Victorian male-romances of the Haggard ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: John Humphrys, 22 September 2005

... Cochrane’s Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English (Icon, £6.99), Humphrys says that a young man who used the phrase ‘proactively networking’ when applying for a job at the BBC ought to have been ‘publicly executed’. So what should be done with whoever wrote the following? ‘In response to this challenging scenario, the conference will ...

Diary

Hugh Pennington: Smallpox Scares, 5 September 2002

... Bedsonia. Henry Bedson had been trained as a virologist by the doyen of British smallpox experts, Allan Downie of Liverpool University. Downie was the eighth son of a fisherman from Rosehearty in North-East Scotland. He had an identical twin, Ricky. Together they won all the prizes and ended up with identical marks when they qualified simultaneously with ...

Swallowing goldfish

Alexander Nehamas, 10 December 1987

The Closing of the American Mind: How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students 
by Allan Bloom.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 671 47990 3
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... about their potential consequences, and mostly vague recommendations regarding their reform. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, described on the New York Times best-seller list as ‘a critique of liberal arts education during the past twenty-five years’, has been widely considered as a distinguished part of this broad critical ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg, 18 November 2004

The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... like, ‘Hoots, man – I dinna understand you sae weel now,’ and describes Theocritus as ‘the Allan Ramsay o’ Sicily’. One episode has the Shepherd galloping naked around Selkirkshire on an angry bull. When a new version of Hogg’s 1807 Memoir appeared in 1821, Blackwood’s carried a review so brutal (he is ‘the greatest boar on earth’; his ...

At the Grey Art Gallery

J. Hoberman: Inventing Downtown , 29 March 2017

... not yet gentrified as SoHo or rebranded as the East Village. ‘Blue Blue Blue’ (1956) by Allan Kaprow The gallery is packed with work, the most exciting of it raw, rude and abrasive. The sculptor George Segal made a career out of positioning life-size white plaster figures in furnished tableaux, so it’s a jolt to encounter one of his early works ...

Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín: Diane Arbus, 2 March 2017

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer 
by Arthur Lubow.
Cape, 734 pp., £35, October 2016, 978 0 224 09770 3
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Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov 
by Alexander Nemerov.
Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp., $30, March 2015, 978 1 881337 41 6
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... Just as​ their mother married a man who had a menial job in the family firm, Diane married Allan Arbus, who, having dropped out of college, was working doing paste-up in the Russeks advertising department. Diane was 13 when she met Allan and 18 when they married. Their daughter Doon was born in 1945, when Arbus was ...

Not Recommended Reading

Eliot Weinberger, 6 September 2017

... to the other world and bring the girl back. The Storm of London (1904) by F. Dickberry    Young Lord Somerville wakes to find all his clothes missing. In fact, all clothing has vanished from England. After the initial shock, life resumes in the nude. People learn they must take better care of their bodies and become healthier. Class distinctions, once ...

White Peril

E.S. Turner: H. Rider Haggard, 20 September 2001

Diary of an African Journey (1914) 
by H. Rider Haggard.
Hurst, 345 pp., £20, August 2001, 1 85065 468 9
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... illustrating what would later be defined as the craven fear of being great. Kipling was too young to be contemplating a poem called ‘Retrocessional’. In 1881 the Haggards had returned to Britain, leaving their fellow settlers to buy and sell the veldt for what it would fetch, or dig vast holes in search of gold and diamonds. Haggard had then ...

At the Smithsonian

August Kleinzahler: Richard Estes, 22 January 2015

... seems to have been ignited by the pictures he saw at the National Gallery during his travels as a young artist: small Turner watercolours ‘with distorted reflections in windows – or mirrors perhaps’, Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait, in which the mirror behind the couple reflects two figures at the door and The Rokeby Venus by Velásquez, in which ...

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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... of his father enabled him to abandon what had been the immediate plan to become a teacher, and the young man who was already a member of the ILP and the Fabian Society was pitched into no more proletarian a job than that of being on the staff of the Monmouthshire Labour News. He had become a journalist instead of amemberof that Scottish teaching profession for ...

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 his ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... expected the Government to stop Murdoch getting his hands on their team.) Campbell phoned Tim Allan, director of corporate communications at BSkyB, to find out what was happening. He didn’t have to introduce himself. Allan was Campbell’s deputy at the Downing Street press office until he took a well-padded chair in ...

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