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David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... original rejection was based on an underestimation of his seriousness: according to the present-day Guardian critic Michael Billington, Coward’s exploration of ‘the thin dividing line between sex and savagery’ in Private Lives puts him on a par with Strindberg. A rather different reassessment is provided by Dan Rebellato, whose revisionist ...

Overdoing the Synge-song

Terry Eagleton: Sebastian Barry, 22 September 2011

On Canaan’s Side 
by Sebastian Barry.
Faber, 256 pp., £16.99, August 2011, 978 0 571 22653 5
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... with the clamorous rise of bourgeois Italy. In a series of works over the past decade, Sebastian Barry has captured the flow and recoil of modern Irish history in the blighted destinies of the Dunne family. Taken together, The Steward of Christendom, Annie Dunne, A Long Long Way and now On Canaan’s Side constitute a kind of Oresteia of 20th-century ...

At Bozar

Barry Schwabsky: Luc Tuymans, 14 April 2011

... year. So if we want we can take this as a history painting; and for anyone who happened to spend a day on the other side of Checkpoint Charlie in the latter days of East Germany, the painting’s aroma of ‘something that has come to an end and goes no further’, as Tuymans puts it, seems entirely authentic. ‘The Secretary of ...

Kinsella in His Hole

Hilary Mantel, 19 May 2016

... little coat on.’ She squatted down and unzipped the big shopping bag she carried with her every day. It had check on the side that matched the dog’s topknot. It looked heavy; she was rumoured to have a fat leather purse. She rummaged in, and took out a contraption which she dangled in the air, a little blanket with straps to go under his belly. Rose ...


David Runciman: Winners Do Drugs, 3 August 2006

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports 
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Gotham, 332 pp., $26, March 2006, 1 59240 199 6
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... in 1999 and 64 in 2001, but he has never held the single-season record. That currently belongs to Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, who in 2001 hit the ball out of the park an unprecedented 73 times. McGwire, Sosa and Bonds don’t resemble Roger Maris in physical appearance, but they don’t look much like Babe Ruth either. They are all ...

A Most Consistent Man

Barry Schwabsky: Renoir, 13 September 2018

Renoir: An Intimate Biography 
by Barbara Ehrlich White.
Thames and Hudson, 432 pp., £24.95, October 2017, 978 0 500 23957 5
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... and women in his letters, he was not an antisemite, or sexist – at least by the standards of his day. This is letting him off too easily. The question of antisemitism has little to do with the content of Renoir’s paintings, but the depiction of women is central, and should have been probed more deeply – not by reading the letters, but through a closer ...


R.W. Johnson: Don’t you carry?, 25 April 2002

... floor, a hyena skin, the mouth still gaping wide with carnivorous lust. Across the compound lived Barry, getting on now but still a legendary crocodile hunter. Barry’s wife, Jane, insisted on giving me a haircut as I sat under the giant baobab and listened to Barry. ‘Only got bitten ...

Brooksie and Faust

Angela Carter, 8 March 1990

Louise Brooks 
by Barry Paris.
Hamish Hamilton, 640 pp., £20, February 1990, 0 241 12541 3
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... front and back flaps – oh! the patented Brooks version of the Giaconda smile, the one that, as Barry Paris says, isn’t so much a ‘come hither’ look as a look that says, to each and every gender: ‘I’ll come to you.’ (If, that is, she likes the look of you – a big if, in fact.) That straightforward look of hers is what makes these 60-year-old ...

Fellow Freaks

Sam Thompson: Wells Tower, 9 July 2009

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned 
by Wells Tower.
Granta, 238 pp., £10.99, April 2009, 978 1 84708 048 6
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... route. The title story in Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, the only one not set in present-day America, is narrated by a middle-aged Viking. Harald would much rather stay at home with his wife than set off on yet another bloodthirsty raid, but on Lindisfarne there is a monastery to sack and villagers to disembowel, and a man can’t turn down a ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents, 5 January 2012

The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... was apparently untroubled by the conversion.) Barack went to a mission school run by Seventh-Day Adventists, walking three miles but, unlike his classmates, wearing shoes. His father told him: ‘I want you to go beyond where I am.’ On returning home each day, the boy was required to recite sums to his father while ...

An End to Anxiety

Barry Stroud, 18 July 1985

by A.J. Ayer.
Weidenfeld, 155 pp., £14.95, May 1985, 0 297 78612 1
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The Legacy of Wittgenstein 
by Anthony Kenny.
Blackwell, 150 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 9780631137054
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Wittgenstein on Meaning 
by Colin McGinn.
Blackwell, 202 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 631 13764 5
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Understanding Wittgenstein: Studies of ‘Philosophical Investigations’ 
by J.M.F. Hunter.
Edinburgh, 248 pp., £20, March 1985, 0 85224 497 5
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... work as he conceived of it has not really been acknowledged and absorbed by the philosophy of our day. His influence, however great, has been indirect. It has usually led others in directions precisely opposite to the spirit of his own teaching. He had a direct and devastating effect as a young man on Russell at the height of his powers around 1912. But ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... One of the many excellent photographs Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don Quixote with eagle nose and jaw, who had persuaded the burly Yorkshireman as they set out for the crease together not to wear batting gloves, which were unsporting ...

Nature made the house

William Fiennes: Barry Topez, 29 July 1999

Arctic Dreams 
by Barry Lopez.
Harvill, 464 pp., £7.99, January 1999, 1 86046 583 8
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About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory 
by Barry Lopez.
Harvill, 275 pp., £12, January 1999, 9781860465659
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... Many of the 17 ‘essays’ in Barry Lopez’s About This Life are fragments of memoir: snapshots of the day of a mother’s death from cancer; early road trips up and down America; Jesuit prep school in Manhattan; childhood years in California; a tributary career in photography ...

A horn-player greets his fate

John Kerrigan, 1 September 1983

by Barry Tuckwell.
Macdonald, 202 pp., £10.95, April 1983, 0 356 09096 5
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... Chatterton’s ‘Battle of Hastings II’, it has a peculiar rightness in Browning’s poem. As Barry Tuckwell, its foremost living exponent, reminds us in his splendid new book, the horn began its history in utterance and has never shaken off its origins. The first horns sent signals across dark forests; they called the clan together, like Ralph’s conch ...

At the Movies

Christopher Tayler: ‘Four Lions’, 27 May 2010

Four Lions 
directed by Chris Morris.
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... as the mastermind and frontman of a series of current affairs parodies, On the Hour (1991-92), The Day Today (1994) and Brass Eye (1997, 2001). These were notable for their meticulously detailed exaggerations of broadcasting conventions and their cheerful disdain for moral panics and media self-aggrandisement. Brass Eye was celebrated for hoaxing politicians ...

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