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All Woman

Michael Mason

23 May 1985
‘Men’: A Documentary 
by Anna Ford.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 297 78468 4
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Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure 
by John Cleland, edited by Peter Sabor.
Oxford, 256 pp., £1.95, February 1985, 0 19 281634 9
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... One may ask of Ms Ford’s book, rather as Alice asks of the White Knight’s poem: ‘What is it called?’ The title on the jacket is ‘Men’; the title on the title-page is Men. The jacket is the part of a book where publishers most candidly make known their views. Publishing contracts specifically reserve to the publisher the right to determine its appearance, unilaterally if necessary ...

Root Books

Julie Davidson

7 November 1985
Henry Root’s A-Z of Women 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £7.95, July 1985, 0 297 78593 1
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... awakening of Henry Root. In the course of his researches for Root on Women – ‘to balance Anna Ford on men’ – the barnstorming litterateur discovers the vice anglais. Talk about flogging a dead horse. From then on, it’s bondage all the way for the captive reviewer, with exchanges of this kind: ‘The upper classes, you say? Etonians? The ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities

11 September 2003
Searching for John FordA Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... are normal people, were questions that came up all the time in the film-making career of John Ford, a career that lasted fifty years, and which one way or another says as much about home and landscape, belonging and solitude, war and peace, history and memory, America and Europe, as that of any American storyteller in any medium. ...
6 December 1990
Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... Warm and vibrant. We lunched together a few times but, alas, remained only good friends’ – to Anna Ford (‘I had the feeling that her first love was men and work came second’), and ‘my friend and discovery Selina – gorgeous, delicious Selina Scott’. The old boy seems always to have been unduly fascinated by sexual speculation. He finds it ...
23 January 1986
... absence of naturalised Arabs from all the party lists, one wonders how these French variants on Anna Ford and Selena Scott manage to look so pertly relevant while posing such ludicrous questions.) Even ‘liberals’ such as ex-President Giscard make ponderous remarks about immigrants having to ‘remember that they may have rights, but they have ...

Priapus Knight

Marilyn Butler

18 March 1982
TheArrogant Connoisseur: Richard Payne Knight 1751-1824 
edited by Michael Clarke and Nicholas Penny.
Manchester, 189 pp., £30, February 1982, 0 7190 0871 9
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... something in common with that of men like Wedgwood and Watt. He sprang from a Shropshire and Herefordshire family of ironmasters, and kept the vitality, the eye for detail and the eclectic curiosity of his fathers. A brother was a horticulturist; Knight’s own journals include jottings about odd facts in natural history, such as the smell of elephants. The ...

In the Spirit of Mayhew

Frank Kermode: Rohinton Mistry

25 April 2002
Family Matters 
by Rohinton Mistry.
Faber, 487 pp., £16.99, April 2002, 0 571 19427 3
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... aware of the new techniques, new styles of ‘treatment’, currently being explored by Conrad and Ford Madox Ford, and aware also of the new rules of the game as promulgated by Henry James with his passion for ‘doing’. Bennett greatly admired Conrad, but decided against this kind of ‘doing’. The Old Wives’ Tale ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne

3 September 1981
David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... Was Selznick wary of greater challenges – Bleak House or Huckleberry Finn? When he tackled Anna Karenina, also in 1935, he turned it into a glossy vehicle for Garbo; and his very last film, A Farewell to Arms, was an over-reverent flop. The best picture he produced, Carol Reed’s The Third Man, was the one in which he interfered the least – although ...


Peter Campbell

31 August 1989
A Particular Place 
by Mary Hocking.
Chatto, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 7011 3454 2
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The House of Fear, Notes from Down Below 
by Leonora Carrington.
Virago, 216 pp., £10.99, July 1989, 1 85381 048 7
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Painted Lives 
by Max Egremont.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 241 12706 8
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The Ultimate Good Luck 
by Richard Ford.
Collins Harvill, 201 pp., £11.95, July 1989, 0 00 271853 7
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...  ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood

19 May 1983
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... it for you with my Dunhill.’ ‘May I have this dance, Lady Darlene? I am the Earl of Grant ford.’ ‘Indeed you may, Earl, honey. I am Lady Darlene.’ There are even touches of Gracie (or is it Woody?) Allen:   ‘Was your father weak, passive, absent from home a lot?’   ‘You mean before he died?’ There is also a glum, constant sense ...


Daniel Soar: John McGahern

21 February 2002
That They May Face the Rising Sun 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 298 pp., £16.99, January 2002, 0 571 21216 6
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... it. Carrick-on-Shannon is (perhaps) a short drive away; in the other direction you’ll get to Longford in a while. If you don’t try to make sense of it, the barely mentioned place-names can only remind you how lost you are. It appears to be a novel of place. The events are quiet and agricultural: a funeral, a wedding, a harvest. The central characters ...


Karl Miller

18 September 1980
The Oxford Chekov. Vol. IV: Stories 1888-1889 
edited by Ronald Hingley.
Oxford, 287 pp., £14, July 1980, 0 19 211389 5
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... Volume IV of the ‘Oxford Chekhov’ has all the fiction published between March 1888 and 1 January 1889, and it brings to an end Ronald Hingley’s nine-volume annotated translation of the plays and of a proportion, six volumes’ worth, of the stories. Mr Hingley has been taxed with the ‘layman’s’ question as to whether all the stories of this great writer were to be made available in English: he points out that most of the copious early fiction was written ‘for money’ and to suit the ‘numerous humorous magazines of the period’, and that the early work, from 1880, for all that it contains ‘not a few minor masterpieces’, has therefore been excluded ...

Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens

21 July 1994
Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... if the Mussolini question was Italy’s internal affair. Standing next to Reagan, Bush, Carter and Ford, Clinton reached as high as a cornball can reach. He began by recalling that Nixon’s father had ‘built’ his own house (actually sending off by mail-order to a pre-fabricator back East and putting up a featureless dwelling in the groves of ...

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