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Downhill from Here

Ian Jack: The 1970s, 27 August 2009

When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies 
by Andy Beckett.
Faber, 576 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 571 22136 3
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... are of myself becoming richer, but it remains a popular view: Britain before the fun got going. As Andy Beckett writes in his introduction, the statement ‘Above all, we don’t want to go back to the 1970s’ has been a relentless theme in British political life almost since the day the decade ended. They are the bogeyman years, regularly invoked by ...

Diary

Jenny Turner: ‘T2 Trainspotting’, 16 February 2017

... 18th century, to its poorest ones poisoning themselves with heroin at the close of this one.’ As Andy Beckett observed in the LRB (10 May 2012), this sort of thing was new for Welsh, the beginning of a punt, maybe, at ‘the great Edinburgh novel’, though he doesn’t seem to have taken it further. And it sounds like a stretch, that ‘line from ...

The New Deal

Tom Crewe, 17 August 2017

... As recently as six weeks ago, the answer would have been yes, definitely. ‘British politics,’ Andy Beckett wrote in the Guardian last October, ‘feels relentlessly tabloid-dominated. From the daily obsession with immigrants to the rubbishing of human rights lawyers, from the march towards a “hard Brexit” to the smearing of liberal Britons as bad ...

Brexit and Myths of Englishness

James Meek: For England and St George, 11 October 2018

... that I’d found somebody whose personal history in that place reached back so deep? In 2005, Andy Beckett wrote in the Guardian about the then novel middle-class English fashion for Englishness – ‘the feverish popularity of beach huts, and of knobbly local potatoes at farmers’ markets, the rebranding of fish and chips and sausages and mash as ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett, 29 July 1999

Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... meum’; Joyce at a fancy-dress party where he managed to wangle first prize dressed as Handy Andy, Joyce reciting Yeats and saying, ‘No Surrealist poet can ever equal this for imagination’; Joyce commenting on a picture of the Christ-child, ‘Doesn’t he look as if he had just robbed the hen-house’; Joyce weeping over his beloved daughter ...

At the Hayward

Brian Dillon: ‘Invisible’, 2 August 2012

... concept of the ‘infra-thin’, like mist on glass, or the warmth of a seat just vacated. Samuel Beckett wrote in The Unnameable: ‘It is all very well to keep silence, but one has also to consider the kind of silence one keeps.’ They are all, it turns out, a little different, and none of them pure or (as Susan Sontag put it) raw. Among the artists in ...

Drowned in Eau de Vie

Modris Eksteins: New, Fast and Modern, 21 February 2008

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond 
by Peter Gay.
Heinemann, 610 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 434 01044 8
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... of the contradictory manifestations of Modernist effort – how does one reconcile Thomas Mann and Andy Warhol? – he can’t help but see the Modernist instinct as essentially an affirmative urge. Two-thirds of the way through his book, Gay states bluntly that ‘liberalism’ was the ‘fundamental principle of Modernism’. But whose liberalism is ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner, 26 September 2019

Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... replied. During this period Kenner published two books on T.S. Eliot, a critical study of Samuel Beckett and The Pound Era, his masterwork (to which Davenport provided considerable input, including the gnomic final sentence: ‘Thought is a labyrinth’), along with several other books, including The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy which had delightful ...

Diary

John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa, 11 July 2002

... Mark points out that ‘you’re not even Irish, you English cunt’ is like something out of Beckett. Andy wonders whether ‘you can stick it up your bollocks’ is an Irish expression or a stroke of inspiration on Keane’s part. Myself, I take a more Derridean/psychoanalytic view and think this is a classic example ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts, 9 May 2019

k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... the not yet of the futures that popular modernism trained us to expect.’Fisher was a big fan of Andy Beckett’s histories of the 1970s and 1980s, which noted that British households were at their most equal economically, as measured by the Gini coefficient, in 1977. Just as importantly for Fisher’s purposes, ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp, 11 August 2016

... his colleagues hadn’t voted for him in order to encourage ‘debate’ – one of them, Margaret Beckett, has described herself as a ‘moron’ for doing so.) His shadow cabinet, devastated by a series of staged resignations, is now a patchwork of very young MPs and very old ones, many of them doing more than one job. After 29 years in Parliament the ...

Issues of Truth and Invention

Colm Tóibín: Francis Stuart’s wartime broadcasts, 4 January 2001

The Wartime Broadcasts of Francis Stuart 
edited by Brendan Barrington.
Lilliput, 192 pp., £25, September 2000, 1 901866 54 8
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... to Belfast to see the UDA and had become friendly with one of the younger members and had met Andy Tyrie, the leader, and come to admire him in certain ways. Stuart would leave a silence at such moments and, if there were a rabbit or a cat close by, he would stroke it. I knew that he was also sending books to IRA prisoners and writing letters to them. I ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... picture cameras did it better justice. You can see it the moment she enters the Factory for her Andy Warhol Screen Test (1964), in the youthful footage of her in the documentary Regarding Susan Sontag (2014) and in the feminist fight club classic Town Bloody Hall (1979), where, from the audience, she takes Norman Mailer to task for his patronising ...

The Uncommon Reader

Alan Bennett: A Story, 8 March 2007

... Though this meant that the Queen came away with a disproportionate notion of the popularity of Andy McNab and the near universal affection for Joanna Trollope, no matter; at least embarrassment had been avoided. And once the answers had been supplied the audiences were back on track and finished on the dot as they used to do, the only hold-ups when, as ...

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