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6 July 1995
Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel 
by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle.
Macmillan, 208 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 333 60760 0
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... This and other pronouncements are effectively quoted in Phyllis Lassner’s excellent little book in Macmillan’s ‘Women Writers’ series (1990). It is written from a feminist angle, whereas Bennett and Royle are theorists who have found in Bowen, perhaps rather surprisingly, an opportunity for what they call a ‘new kind of literary critical writing’ in which the critics will take ‘her ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman: Power v. Power

8 April 2015
... Banner in the ‘Palliser’ novels. Instead we have deeply entitled TV and radio interviewers whose job is to put politicians on the spot and try to catch them out. They all have their own style. Andrew Marr’s Sunday show regularly ensnares the big beasts. Marr is courteous, intelligent and always sniffing out hypocrisy. How exactly are you any better, is the question behind most of his questions ...

Lukashenko’s Way

Jonathan Steele

27 September 2012
Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship 
by Andrew​ Wilson.
Yale, 304 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 300 13435 3
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The Last Dictatorship in Europe: Belarus under Lukashenko 
by Brian Bennett.
Hurst, 358 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 1 84904 167 6
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... and subsidising him and denouncing and putting an economic squeeze on him. The EU tried diplomatic isolation and travel sanctions, then moved to cautious engagement: neither strategy made an impact. Andrew Wilson is more dispassionate than Brian Bennett, who was the UK ambassador in Minsk between 2003 and 2007 and remains angry at what he saw. Wilson devotes the first half of his book to an analysis of ...

Wacky

Christopher Tayler: Multofiction

8 January 2004
Set This House in Order 
by Matt Ruff.
Flamingo, 496 pp., £12, October 2003, 0 00 716423 8
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... memories is no less faith-based than a belief in past-life regression. And, they might add, the views attributed to Dr Minor aren’t confined to a few West Coast fruitcakes, as Ruff implies. Bennett Braun, a leading figure from the early days of MPD, had his licence suspended when a patient claimed he’d convinced her she had 300 alters – one of them a busy cannibal, another a satanic ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey

4 March 2004
Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... cribs from everything he ever loved, from A Taste of Honey, from Elizabeth Smart, from Karel Reisz’s films, everything, including (especially) the Kitchen Sink, jokes nipped from Oscar Wilde, Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood. He loved to do versions of his favourite songs by Twinkle and Cilla Black and even by brand new bands (like the Manchester outfit James) who barely had any fans yet. He so yearned ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999

20 January 2000
... line of reasoning having much to do with Wittgenstein’s homosexuality. So we have lists of Trinity men who were Apostles, which of them were homosexuals and so on, Cornish dodgily assuming, as did Andrew Boyle and John Costello before him, that homosexuality is itself a bond and that if two men can be shown to be homosexual the likelihood is that they’re sleeping together. So we trail down that ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J. Evans: Michael Gove

12 September 2019
Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... an undergraduate cynic playing to the gallery in a Cambridge Footlights revue rather than a sober academic contributing to a proper historical debate.’ Actually – and Gove’s new biographer Owen Bennett might have pointed this out – all I’d said was that with tsarist Russia as Britain’s major ally, with 40 per cent of British adult males denied the vote until the Reform Act of 1918, and with a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese

16 November 2006
The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... his own voice on the soundtrack, speaking presumably at another time, announces: ‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.’ Then the music and titles come up, with Tony Bennett singing ‘From Rags to Riches’. Scorsese’s gangster myth is not different from anyone else’s, but his take on it is. There is no 1930s grandeur in his crime movies, and no family friendliness ...

Short Cuts

Amjad Iraqi: Anti-BDS Law

19 July 2018
... the anti-apartheid boycott in the 1980s – that are involved in boycotts of Israel. Maryland, Louisiana, Wisconsin and New York have already issued such orders. After signing his, in June 2016, Andrew Cuomo declared in the Washington Post: ‘If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.’ It isn’t just that those who participate in or help enable boycotts are boycotted themselves, or ...

Diary

Andrew​ O’Hagan: A City of Prose

4 August 2005
... dictatorially and without compunction’ and further predicted that ‘the 1990s will not see the continuing triumph of the market, but its failure.’ And it was into those same rooms that Ronan Bennett came with one of the longest pieces ever published in a single issue of this paper, a report on the civil and legal injustices perpetrated by the state in its desperate pursuit of those guilty of the ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’

7 October 2015
‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... years 1649 and 1670, I was never off horseback.’ The flipside of Aubrey being, in William Poole’s words, ‘politically tone-deaf’ is a ranging inclusivity in his social relations: John Dryden, Andrew Marvell, Edmund Waller, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, John Milton, Wenceslaus Hollar. As Kate Bennett writes in the introduction to her superb new edition of Brief Lives, ‘we may be able to hear ...

Troglodytes

Patrick Parrinder

25 October 1990
Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination 
by Rosalind Williams.
MIT, 265 pp., £22.50, March 1990, 9780262231459
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The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne 
by Andrew​ Martin.
Oxford, 222 pp., £27.50, May 1990, 0 19 815798 3
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... sweep rather than in any great subtlety of close textual reading. Verne’s texts, in any case, have recently been the subject of a whole series of influential and subtle reinterpretations. While Andrew Martin’s work marks an innovation in the English criticism of Verne, he is much indebted to such Parisian predecessors as Roland Barthes, Michel Butor and Michel Serres. Moreover, The Mask of the ...
22 May 1986
The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew​ Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... Andrew Motion’s book is intended to portray a family’s rich self-destructiveness. He begins with Larkin’s famous quatrain: Man hands on misery to man.   It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes

18 June 1998
Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew​ Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... fizzled out, and Eliot stayed on at the bank. Not everyone in the literary world shared Pound’s passionate conviction that artists ought to be protected from the need to make ends meet. Arnold Bennett, for example, did not believe ‘that this kind of appeal can be logically justified. According to my gospel, the first duty of a man is to earn his living; he must be an artist afterwards ...
18 October 2001
Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books 
by H.J. Jackson.
Yale, 324 pp., £19.95, April 2001, 0 300 08816 7
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... to the Lancet who campaigned for library books to be disinfected. But it’s difficult to make readers’ experience purely cerebral. In one of many suggestive footnotes, Jackson describes Alan Bennett reading a library book in which a paragraph has been marked with a crooked line: ‘I pay the passage special attention without finding it particularly rewarding. As I turn the page the line moves ...

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