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Traven identified

George Woodcock, 3 July 1980

The Man who was B. Traven 
byWill Wyatt.
Cape, 326 pp., £8.50, June 1980, 0 224 01720 9
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The Government 
byB. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 356 2
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The Cotton-Pickers 
byB. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 200 pp., £5.50, October 1979, 0 85031 284 1
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The White Rose 
byB. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 209 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 369 4
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... I am convinced, after reading his book, The Man who was B. Traven, that the BBC producer Will Wyatt has (with some notable assistance from others) finally solved one of the most tantalising literary mysteries of our age, and has established, as firmly as it ever will be, the identity of the novelist who called himself B ...

Oh my oh my oh my

John Lanchester, 12 September 1991

Mao II 
byDon DeLillo.
Cape, 239 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 9780224031523
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Introducing Don DeLillo 
edited byFrank Lentricchia.
Duke, 221 pp., £28, September 1991, 0 8223 1135 6
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... great precursor and prefigurer is Rimbaud, includes such star incogniti as Baron Corvo and B. Traven, but has perhaps never flourished anywhere quite as much as it is flourishing in the United States at the moment, where the reputations of celebrity hermits such as Salinger and Brodkey swell inexorably with every book they fail to ...

It wasn’t a dream

Ned Beauman: Christopher Priest, 10 October 2013

The Adjacent 
byChristopher Priest.
Gollancz, 432 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 575 10536 2
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... words are in italics. Have we lived and fought in vain? Priest concluded that the judges should be sacked, the ceremony cancelled and the prize suspended for a year. The essay was a polemic by a writer with a stake in the debate. Predictably, it didn’t go down well with the tiny fraction of online readers who comment on ...

Textual Intercourse

Claude Rawson, 6 February 1986

The Name of Action: Critical Essays 
byJohn Fraser.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, December 1984, 0 521 25876 6
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... adolescence’, and his ‘apprentice years’ in the Sixties, were sorely fretted by Marxists, Freudians, irony-mongers and other assorted nuisances, restlessly disturbing the plain sense of things, while real life and Mr Fraser (‘human feelings and doings – falling in or out of love, fighting a war, and so on’) were taking their natural ...

One blushes to admit it

D.J. Enright, 11 June 1992

The Heart of Europe: Essays on Literature and Ideology 
byJ.P. Stern.
Blackwell, 415 pp., £45, April 1992, 0 631 15849 9
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... There are European authors, notably those writing in German, whom we perceive to be important, intimidatingly so, but with whom we find it hard to come to grips, despite the existence of extremely skilled translations. Some of these authors are possibly less brilliant or wise than they appear to be, or than, given our nagging though commonly well-concealed sense of intellectual inferiority, we resignedly suppose them to be ...

Humming along

Michael Wood: The Amazing Thomas Pynchon, 4 January 2007

Against the Day 
byThomas Pynchon.
Cape, 1085 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 224 08095 4
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... whimsy myself, and a first glance at Thomas Pynchon’s new novel had me worried. I could scarcely be surprised by the funny names or the animals, since Pynchon’s early fiction had people called Dennis Flange, Rachel Owlglass and Emory Bortz, and in Mason & Dixon there is a considerable speaking role for Vaucanson’s ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: The Disappearance of Arthur Cravan, 9 March 2006

... World War. His chief influences were Rimbaud, Alfred Jarry and the Italian Futurists; he preceded by a few years the Dadaists and Surrealists, who acclaimed him a pioneering figure. He was, André Breton said, a ‘barometer’ of the avant-garde. As a heavyweight boxer, his career peaked in 1916, when he fought the formidable Jack Johnson in Barcelona. He ...

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