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Bourgeois Masterpieces

Julian Symons, 13 June 1991

Literature and Liberation: Selected Essays 
by Arnold Kettle, edited by Graham Martin and W.R. Owens.
Manchester, 231 pp., £9.95, February 1991, 9780719027734
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... the table ready for dissection. Most of these reflections were prompted by reading a selection of Arnold Kettle’s essays. Kettle, who died in 1986, was a Marxist literary critic who deliberately avoided what his editors call a ‘specialised “professional” language’. Novels, plays and poems are discussed as ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... to a similar protest meeting at the old Mechanics’ Institute, where one of the speakers was Mrs Arnold Kettle. The Kettles were well-known left-wingers, Arnold Kettle a Communist and lecturer in English at the university. They lived not far from us in Headingley and were eventually, though not I think at this ...


Nicholas Spice, 17 May 1984

Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... Vision of the Working Class’, which appears in The Uses of Fiction, a festschrift in honour of Arnold Kettle, who retired from the Chair of Literature in the Open University in 1981. The essays divide up roughly into three groups: discussions on the theory of representation, essays on the African and Commonwealth novel, and studies of individual 20th ...

The Unrewarded End

V.G. Kiernan: Memories of the CP, 17 September 1998

The Death of Uncle Joe 
by Alison Macleod.
Merlin, 269 pp., £9.95, May 1997, 0 85036 467 1
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Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party 
by Francis Beckett.
Merlin, 253 pp., £9.95, August 1998, 0 85036 477 9
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... an extraordinary congress served to postpone final decisions. It took place on Good Friday 1957. Arnold Kettle was put in the chair; he later confessed to friends that he was in a chaotic state of feeling. He made an awkward effort to cajole trade unionists by calling the dissidents ‘blacklegs’. Those in power managed to hold on, but the damage done ...


Frank Kermode, 21 March 1996

In the Beauty of the Lilies 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 512 pp., £16, April 1996, 0 241 13653 9
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... and their interrelations, familial and sexual, are as usual impressive (a comparison with Arnold Bennett comes, uninvited, to mind, only to be dismissed unexamined, as almost certain to be deceptive). But here there seem to be occasional lapses, moments even of bathos, so that neither in conception nor in execution can this book match the last of the ...

‘I worry a bit, Joanne’

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Casual Vacancy’, 25 October 2012

The Casual Vacancy 
by J.K. Rowling.
Little, Brown, 503 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 4087 0420 2
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... of the novel, with the epigraphs for all its sections taken from the seventh edition of Charles Arnold-Baker’s Local Council Administration (2006). The election is important locally because of the disputed status of the Fields, a rundown area that is administratively shared with the encroaching city of Yarvil. The Fields represents the seething id that ...

A Knife at the Throat

Christopher Tayler: Meticulously modelled, 3 March 2005

by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 280 pp., £17.99, February 2005, 0 224 07299 4
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... the end, the redemptive power of literature comes crashing onto the stage in the person of Matthew Arnold. ‘Dover Beach’ plays a crucial role, and in one sense it’s a well-chosen poem: the confused alarms and ignorant armies chime nicely with the novel’s public themes. But even McEwan’s powers of persuasion can’t make the scene in which it occurs ...

To the Great God Pan

Laura Jacobs: Goddess Isadora, 24 October 2013

My Life: The Restored Edition 
by Isadora Duncan.
Norton, 322 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 87140 318 6
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... Nevertheless, the camera did pull images of magisterial eloquence from Duncan, especially when Arnold Genthe and Edward Steichen were behind the lens. Genthe’s evocation of her dance to the ‘Marseillaise’, taken in 1917, freezes a silent roar of revolutionary fervour. Her dark robe, one-shouldered, bleeds into a still darker background, leaving only ...

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