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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 ...

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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... might just find a metaphor for the self-punishing nature of Thatcher’s Britain in the new sexual awakening of Henry Root. In the course of his researches for Root on Women – ‘to balance AnnaFord 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 ...

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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... instead of a sheep. The extent to which cowboys are normal people, the extent to which normal people 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 ...
6 December 1990
Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... slavering after pretty women. These range from the tennis player Virginia Wade – ‘Quite a girl. Warm and vibrant. We lunched together a few times but, alas, remained only good friends’ – to AnnaFord (‘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 ...
23 January 1986
... of France one day?’ (As one looks round at the miserable Arab street-cleaners and reflects on the absence of naturalised Arabs from all the party lists, one wonders how these French variants on AnnaFord 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 ...

Matrioshki

Craig Raine

13 June 1991
Constance Garnett: A Heroic Life 
by Richard Garnett.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 402 pp., £20, March 1991, 1 85619 033 1
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... Lopakhins or students à la Trofimo.’ Undeterred by this, or by Matthew Arnold’s ironic example of Mdlle Rossignol for Florence Nightingale, Hingley boldly translates the untranslatable. Anna Sergeyevna is deprived of her atmospheric and irreplaceable patronymic and becomes ‘Anne’. In Garnett, Anna Sergeyevna isn’t sure ‘whether her husband has a post in a Crown Department or ...

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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... travelled to Italy and Greece, drawing, measuring, reporting home, and came back laden with spoils for their private collections. Compared with their modern counterparts, scholars funded by Mellon, Ford, Guggenheim and the British Academy, the Dilettanti had a striking characteristic: they were not so much specialists as universalists. By the time Knight joined it, the Society was absorbing 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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... most resembles seems to be Arnold Bennett. Bennett was a novelist of great skill and resource, well 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 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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... 1935), with W.C. Fields as Micawber; one of the worst, three years later, was a plodding Tom Sawyer. 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 ...

Anglicana

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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... what looks to be a better relationship. One strand of sub-plot involves Charles Venables, a rather desiccated schoolmaster, more interested in literature than life. His lecture to a local group on Anna Karenina is followed by a discussion in which Anna’s conduct is criticised: ‘What had she done, Charles wondered, to arouse dislike in these liberated women?’ His fastidiousness about the ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood

19 May 1983
Duluth 
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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... garbled realm of fiction in America. ‘Have a Lark cigarette from this Tiffany box. Here. I’ll light 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 ...

Alphabetical

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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... place it describes also feels like the only place on earth. It’s a clever trick, and it makes for good stories. Jamesie likes to tell the one about his brother Johnny, who went to England after Anna Mulvey, the girl he loved. Johnny is a mythical figure: ‘the best shot this part of the country has ever seen’, ‘the whole world at his feet’. He’s Synge’s Playboy – and, appropriately ...

Georgie

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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... voices, as it sometimes strikes one, rehearsing their dying fall, but with the solos, the solipsism, of individuals essential to the music they make. These talkers do not much converse, and soon Ford Madox Ford was to break the news that modern art should show how in conversations the speakers do not listen to one another. Of the art of Ford’s friend and collaborator, Conrad, Ian Watt writes in ...

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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... fascisti back into the democratic fold on the eve of the D-Day commemoration, for all the world as 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 ...

Don’t Die

Jenny Diski: Among the Handbags

1 November 2007
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre 
by Dana Thomas.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 7139 9823 8
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... us and them are buying this year to be certain of whether it’s right or terribly wrong. Luxury fashion in this sense is the very opposite of stylish. Luxury is not having ‘an eye’ but, as Tom Ford, formerly of YSL and Gucci, explains: ‘It’s like you’ve gotta have it or you’ll die.’ Sumptuary laws belong to a different age. Democracy demands that luxury is something everyone can have ...

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