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Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 22 October 2014

... idea of being a famous literary editor may seem oxymoronic. That, however, is exactly what Karl Miller was. As a result, it was possible to be well-briefed about Karl before meeting him for the first time. This was thanks to Clive James’s introduction to his collection Visions before Midnight. James said that Karl, who’d commissioned him to write about ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... to pretend they were moderates, and to give the biggest speaking slots to Republicans (and Zell Miller, a Democrat) who hold views quite opposite to those of George W. Bush on most matters to do with social policy, but not on matters to do with 11 September and the War on Terror. So we had the former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani presenting himself as a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Basingstoke’s Paisleyite, 21 April 2005

... been discounted it wouldn’t have made any difference: the new Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Andrew Hunter, would just have been elected with a majority of 12,451 rather than 12,450. Hunter won’t be seeking re-election in May, having seen his majority – which peaked in 1992 at 21,198, making Basingstoke an apparently unassailable Tory stronghold ...

Bullies

Jane Miller, 8 November 1979

Miss Herbert (The Suburban Wife) 
by Christina Stead.
Virago, 308 pp., £5.95
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... provide occasions for displays of making do, rising above, staying young, absorbing shock. When Andrew Hawkins, in For Love Alone, reminds his grown-up daughters that he has been loved by women for being ‘the good-looking, sincere young idealist’, Teresa responds sceptically and scornfully. An intransigent refusal to be gulled destroys Henny Pollitt in ...

Diary

Karl Miller: What is rugby for?, 5 December 1991

... no romantic fool, but no one would deny that he is a romantic player. The former Wallaby captain Andrew Slack has spoken of the ‘free-spirit driver’ associated with him, and he tells his readers a hundred times in his book about how free his spirit is. He is a loner and an owner, in a team game. The romantic runs with the ball. When push comes to ...

Khrush in America

Andrew O’Hagan: Khrushchev in America, 8 October 2009

K Blows Top 
by Peter Carlson.
Old Street, 327 pp., £9.99, July 2009, 978 1 905847 30 3
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... lunch in the Twentieth Century Fox commissary. She passed on greetings from her husband, Arthur Miller, and later said: ‘he looked at me the way a man looks on a woman.’ The studio head Spyros Skouras took Khrushchev on with an argument about capitalism. Judy Garland wanted more drinks. Elizabeth Taylor said she wouldn’t have missed it for ...

Valet of the Dolls

Andrew O’Hagan: Sinatra, 24 July 2003

Mr S.: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra 
by George Jacobs and William Stadiem.
Sidgwick, 261 pp., £16.99, June 2003, 0 283 07370 5
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... writes, took the peroxide bottle to her pubic hair and never washed her sheets; meanwhile, Arthur Miller hid away in his study pretending to write a play in order to avoid his wife’s demands for arguments, babies and pizza. Rough stuff, but not that rough when compared to some of the more recent semi-penitents who rush to take up the pen as soon as they lay ...

Triples

Michael Neve, 8 November 1990

The Double in 19th-Century Fiction 
by John Herdman.
Macmillan, 174 pp., £35, August 1990, 9780333490242
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Romanticism and the Sciences 
edited by Andrew Cunningham and Nicholas Jardine.
Cambridge, 345 pp., £40, June 1990, 0 521 35602 4
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Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? 
by Mary Boyle.
Routledge, 248 pp., £35, September 1990, 0 415 04096 5
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... questions about the mysteries of the Devil gets such good historical answers. From Tymms (1949) to Miller (1985) to the touchingly named Herdman (is he trying to keep us safe, inside the yard?) the literary study of doubles roots itself in Christian accounts of the world, describing how, by trick, by election or by sin, characters break open, split apart, see ...

What Works

Michael Friedman: The embarrassing cousin, 31 March 2005

The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity 
by Raymond Knapp.
Princeton, 361 pp., £22.95, December 2004, 0 691 11864 7
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... book seem like padding. Musicals that don’t manage this, like most of those by Jerome Kern or Andrew Lloyd Webber, end up as song cycles barely held together by text. When they do pull it off – Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man – they can make for extraordinarily powerful theatrical experiences. Knapp does an excellent job of tracing the ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... version of MacDiarmid’s pastures to work at the London Review of Books, the editor, Karl Miller, had a powerful sense of what connected literature to the land, and even the urban writers he liked – Kingsley Amis, for instance – were filled with a sense of hinterland, or winterland, of childhood places and beginnings. Many powerful writers, in ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... to her to have wanted more for themselves than they did for Monroe. She may be right about Arthur Miller and the Actors’ Studio guru Lee Strasberg. The former, in his memoir Timebends, describes a girl who was beyond reach, and who seemed impossible to help. Yet his After the Fall shows him at his most self-justifying: Maggie (the Monroe character) is ...

Sexual Nonconformism

Peter Laslett, 24 January 1980

Wanton Wenches and Wayward Wives: Peasants and Illicit Sex in Early 17th Century England 
by G.R. Quaife.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £11.50, July 1980, 0 7099 0062 7
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A History of Myddle 
by Richard Gough, edited by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 184 pp., £9, October 1980, 0 904573 14 1
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... third Sunday, the first of August, in the loveliest of all English cathedrals, ‘the church of St Andrew in Wells’, ‘wearing in his wand a piece of paper spread abroad containing in great text [very large letters] these words’:         CHARLTON THOMAS ODAM, FOR INCEST WITH   AUCHARETT WHITE HIS WIVES         DAUGHTER Odam had been ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... culture he eviscerated in his fiction, and his letters become a catalogue of tiny hurts. To Ruth Miller, a former student, apropos a piece in the New York Times by Louis Simpson occasioned by Humboldt’s Gift: It was cheap, mean, it did me dirt … I don’t ask myself why the Times prints such miserable stuff, why I must be called an ingrate, a mental ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... speaks to the butlers and the chauffeurs, the studio wives, the bit-part players, to the Arthur Miller, Dennis Hopper and Gore Vidal part of the universe, and none of them lets her down, or lets her off. It is a wild compendium of stories about what it is to be a child in a world of childish adults, and her book feels political, a meditation on the moral ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 16 July 2014

... a day. Coulson had Timothy Langdale, the plummy doyen of the Bar, at a cost of £7000 a day. Andrew Edis, whose crisp, untheatrical delivery made you feel he was telling the truth, acted for the Crown on £570 a day. Before the case began, the fifty randomly selected jurors crowding Court 12 were trimmed to a dozen. Anyone self-employed, with children, a ...

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