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Must they twinkle?

John Sutherland

1 August 1985
British Literary Magazines. Vol. III: The Victorian and Edwardian Age 1837-1913 
edited by Alvin Sullivan.
Greenwood, 560 pp., £88.50, December 1984, 0 313 24335 2
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The Book Book 
by Anthony Blond.
Cape, 226 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 224 02074 9
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... are. I’ll return to the question of BLM’s adequacy as a reference work. For the moment, I want to consider its historical evidence against a provocative assertion by A.N. Wilson, quoted in AnthonyBlond’s Book Book. According to Wilson (don, novelist, Sunday Telegraph reviewer, Young Fogey and former literary editor of the Spectator), there is now no literary reviewing worth the name in ...
19 May 1988
The Monument 
by T. Behrens.
Cape, 258 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 224 02510 4
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The Passion of John Aspinall 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 360 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 224 02353 5
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... one view of the matter – and had made her courageous way across Europe, shot at and winged by border guards, to Vienna, and on to London, where she fell among art historians and was counselled by Anthony Blunt. Like the author of the book, who is a painter and who was then at the Slade, she discovered, he tells us, that ‘the people with the beautiful faces were also, mysteriously, the ones it was ...
22 November 2012
The Zenith 
by Duong Thu Huong, translated by Stephen Young and Hoa Pham Young.
Viking US, 509 pp., £25, August 2012, 978 0 670 02375 2
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... without their passengers. My answer to the publisher’s question, therefore, maintained a certain continuity: ‘A biography of Ho Chi Minh.’ Did I read French? No. Vietnamese? No. ‘Well,’ AnthonyBlond said thoughtfully, ‘you better start a crash course in French straight away and now let’s go back to my office and send Ho a telegram.’ We did. A month later there was an excited call ...


John Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry

5 May 2005
by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... by reviewers? His refusal to be invisible clearly irritated them. And, like many of the outstanding British publishers of the 20th century, Maschler is English but not quite English enough. Like AnthonyBlond, the publisher of Jean Genet and Harold Robbins, he is ‘A Jew Made in England’, as the title of Blond’s memoir had it. The outline of Maschler’s career also recalls that of John Calder ...


Anthony​ Quinn

29 August 1991
Varying Degrees of Hopelessness 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 0 241 13153 7
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by James Buchan.
Heinemann, 135 pp., £12.99, June 1991, 0 434 07499 3
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Alma Cogan 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 210 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 436 20009 0
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... only female lecturer, Angelica Lotus, thought (erroneously) to be past child-bearing age. Focus of Isabel’s attention, however, is the Splendid Young Man (a further Dickensian chime) whose blond curls and red socks send tremors of passion through his seminar students. Her fond hopes of being swept off her feet are scuppered when her flatmate Pol, a large and louche woman, sweeps the Splendid ...

Authors and Climbers

Anthony​ Grafton

5 October 1995
Impolite Learning: Conduct and Community in the Republic of Letters, 1680-1750 
by Anne Goldgar.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 300 05359 2
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... The sight that confronted the French Protestant d’Origny Delaloge when he left his London house at nine o’clock one morning in 1707 struck him as out of the ordinary. A fellow Huguenot, wearing a blond wig, a black suit with a damask vest and a hat with a rose on it, stood before the house and addressed him, first in English and then in French. He identified himself as Jean Le Clerc, the celebrated ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley

11 July 2002
Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... Huxley) is scornfully nihilistic: ‘There was no immortality, of course. After Darwin, after the Fox sisters, after John Beavis’s own father, the surgeon, how could there be?’ Beavis’s son Anthony – Aldous, as we apprehend – is overwhelmed by the enveloping gloom: ‘He walked as though at the bottom of a moving well. Its black walls rustled all around him. He began to cry.’ Two years ...

Yuk’s Last Laugh

Tim Parks: Flaubert

15 December 2016
by Michel Winock, translated by Nicholas Elliott.
Harvard, 528 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 674 73795 2
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... His two years at law school in Paris were spent oscillating between the penitential tedium of preparing for a profession he had no desire to practise and a busy social life where, with ‘his golden-blond beard, his enormous sea-green eyes … his voice resounding like a trumpet, his exaggerated gestures and ringing laugh’, as one friend described him, he was the soul of every party. A second means ...

Taking sides

Karl Miller

17 April 1980
W.H. Auden: The Life of a Poet 
by Charles Osborne.
Eyre Methuen, 336 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 413 39670 3
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... Ambassador. The fleshpots of Shanghai were then exchanged for the fleshpots of Manhattan: ‘Davis also offered to make sexual introductions for them, and, when Christopher requested “a beautiful blond boy, about eighteen, intelligent, with very sexy legs”, a boy exactly answering the description was produced.’ O my America! Mr Osborne’s accounts exhibit a certain Schadenfreude, which may or ...

Is it a crime?

P.N. Furbank

6 June 1985
Peterley Harvest: The Private Diary of David Peterley 
edited by Michael Holroyd.
Secker, 286 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 436 36715 7
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... compact excellence’ deserved universal fame, though a satisfactory second-best would be the esteem of ‘the few lovers of good verse’. It seems that Pennington also collaborated on a Life of Anthony Eden, first published in 1938: however, the British Library strangely did not acquire a copy (nothing fishy here, I hope?). Coal-holes, obscurity: I can’t seem to find much clue to his psyche here ...
25 January 1996
Terence Rattigan: A Biography 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fourth Estate, 428 pp., £20, October 1995, 1 85702 201 7
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... establishment (a perfect and improbable Thirties scenario). She duly makes a languid appearance in her bathing-dress, and Rattigan’s final twist was that the young Lord should turn out to be ‘a blond swishy queer’, who sweeps onto the stage with a real borzoi in tow, uttering the curtain line ‘Come along, Alcibiades.’ Aunt Edna would hardly have been expected to know about the sexual tastes ...

Mary, Mary

Christopher Hitchens

8 April 1993
Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Anthony​ Summers.
Gollancz, 576 pp., £18.99, March 1993, 0 575 04236 2
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... the complement to his bluff brutality. I began to see the queer other side to my host, that evil side which gossip had spoken of as not unknown in the German army. [Emphasis mine.] On page 222 of Anthony Summers’s vastly enjoyable and revealing book, we find J. Edgar Hoover’s lovely home in Rock Creek Park being done up at taxpayers’ expense, complete with ‘hand-crafted fruit bowl’ and ‘a ...


John Bayley

22 June 1989
The Essential Wyndham Lewis 
edited by Julian Symons.
Deutsch, 380 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 0 233 98376 7
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... a man arguing with others in a pub’) and is fascinated by the way he expressed himself. He quotes Eliot’s judgment that Lewis was the greatest English prose stylist of the century. Others, like Anthony Quinton, have called him the worst one. All are right from their own point of view, if we accept that Lewis is a writer who either appeals or does not, but Eliot’s verdict is interesting in two ...


Jenny Turner: ‘T2 Trainspotting’

16 February 2017
... and desperate sons of the disintegrating Scottish industrial working class, became such poster boys – literally – for the bright new Scotland of the early 2000s, with its craft beers and its blond-wood, obscenely overbudget parliament building. ‘Buying a Trainspotting postcode in 1996 was a solid investment,’ I read the other day in the Scotsman. Prices in Leith, apparently, have risen ...


John Lanchester

16 November 1995
Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... time low, helped by the untimely publication of his ditto. Graham Greenes (d. 1991) are on the way down, Robert Lowells (d. 1977, with the Collected Poems coming next year) are a good buy; stock in Anthony Burgess (d. 1993) should probably be held for a year or two; Borgeses (d. 1986) will surge once the editing and republishing are sorted out; James Merrills (d. 1995) should be sold now and rebought ...

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