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6 December 1979
Taking Sides 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 281 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 330 26203 3
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... For all his faults, the absence of BernardLevin has been one of the best reasons for missing the Times during the months it has been off the streets. His first book since The Pendulum Years, and indeed only the second book he has ever published ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve

1 December 1983
Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... positions: a modest one, a way of liking opera, as Frank Johnson does, on the quiet, without shouting about it, and an orgiastic one, where one is cosmically-life-affirmingly-overwhelmed by it, as BernardLevin is. What we are talking about when we talk about opera becomes an intriguing moral moment. People who talk about it well seem to do it very well, to be able to be large-minded and yet sceptical ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard​ Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... Thatcher’s adviser and biographer, took me to a Friday luncheon at the old Bertorelli’s in Charlotte Street. Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, BernardLevin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts’. The conversational scheme was ...

Typical CIA

Ken Follett

18 December 1980
Who’s on first 
by William Buckley.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 7139 1359 2
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... regardless of their politics (which is how come Le Carré gets published in the Soviet Union). You cannot keep politics out of the other sort of spy story. William Buckley is a kind of American BernardLevin, a famous columnist of great personal charm and nasty right-wing views. Like Levin, he has a baroque prose style, favouring long sentences that branch off in unexpected directions; and when he ...

Recyclings

Christopher Ricks

17 June 1982
From the Land of Shadows 
by Clive James.
Cape, 294 pp., £7.95, April 1982, 0 224 02021 8
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... might well be obliged to allow a measure of liberalism when it becomes clear that without it the Soviet Union will no longer be able to maintain itself as a first-rate power. Mr James deprecates BernardLevin: ‘The things he says are mainly his, not somebody else’s. But he says them over and over.’ If this were truly a book, and its author truly terse, there would not be these recyclings ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode

24 February 1994
The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... are lots of them here. Marc occasionally offers little emblematic hints on interpretation, a camera for Cecil Beaton, and, for Margaret Thatcher, a ‘No Milk Today’ tag hanging from her nipple. BernardLevin, who alone appears twice in the book, is once parked under the bosom of Arianna Stassinopoulos. Marcia Falkender holds the PM, a ventriloquist’s dummy, on her knee. Tom Driberg is adjacent to ...

Parkinson Lobby

Alan Rusbridger

17 November 1983
... Bar. Ranged against this lone and motley quartet were the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, most of Fleet Street, 70 Tory MPs, 62 per cent of the British public, BernardLevin, 90 per cent of telephone callers to Conservative Central Office and a briefcase full of letters from Mr Parkinson’s constituents. Forty-two bishops stayed silent. The overwhelming consensus ...

Truth

Nina Bawden

2 February 1984
At the Jazz Band Ball: A Memory of the 1950s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 251 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 233 97591 8
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... begins at Dover.’ Oakes’s interest in jazz continued after his demobilisation. Back in London, he was drawn into what seemed an endless riotous party in which other merrymakers were George Melly, BernardLevin, Harold Pinter, Alan Brien and the joyfully randy Mick Mulligan of the Magnolia Jazz Band. The account of the pranks they get up to is amusing only in patches – other people’s drunken ...

Noddy is on page 248

Jay Griffiths: On the streets

10 June 1999
The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest 
edited by Brian MacArthur.
Penguin, 440 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87052 8
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DIY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain 
edited by George McKay.
Verso, 310 pp., £11, July 1998, 1 85984 260 7
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... on six pages. The Times columnist Robert Harris gets two entries compared to Germaine Greer’s one, Gandhi’s one, or Mandela’s one. Noam Chomsky: nil. E.P Thompson: nil. The Times columnist BernardLevin: two. Levin deserves a special mention. In the Times in May 1996, he implied that Jerry, a Newbury road-protester, planned a firebombing campaign. I know Jerry. He was the victim not the ...

Fabian Figaro

Michael Holroyd

3 December 1981
Shaw’s Music. Vol. I: 1876-1890 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 957 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30247 8
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. II: 1890-1893 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 985 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30249 4
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. III: 1893-1950 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 910 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30248 6
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Conducted Tour 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 0 224 01896 5
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... Second-hand book dealers will tell you that of all Bernard Shaw’s out-of-print works, the volumes of music criticism have been in most constant demand. It is therefore excellent news (except perhaps to second-hand book dealers) that the Bodley Head has now ...

Viva Biba

Janet Watts

8 December 1988
Very Heaven: Looking back at the 1960s 
edited by Sara Maitland.
Virago, 227 pp., £4.95, October 1988, 0 86068 958 1
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... ourselves questions about the nature of reality.’ As an example of Sixtiespeak, this will do very well. It also calls to mind a point made about the spirit of this time by its earlier chronicler, BernardLevin in The Pendulum Years: ‘It was a credulous age, perhaps the most credulous ever, and the more rational, the less gullible, the decade claimed to be, the less rational, the more gullible, it ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Poets Laureate

7 January 1999
... first poem as Laureate, called ‘Now and Then’, appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail and was promoted as part of that paper’s ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign. Of ‘Now and Then’, BernardLevin rather tastelessly observed, years later, that it ‘made many regret their impulsive rejoicing at the death of his predecessor’. Even Day Lewis’s admiring editor and close friend, Ian ...

Viva la joia

Roy Porter

22 December 1983
Montaigne: Essays in Reading 
edited by Gérard Defaux.
Yale, 308 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 300 02977 2
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Montaigne and Melancholy: The Wisdom of the ‘Essays’ 
by M.A. Screech.
Duckworth, 194 pp., £19.50, August 1983, 0 7156 1698 6
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... we need to ask what crop this approach yields. I can see little appeal in abandoning the Gascon sceptic who pondered the Indians and loved playing with his cat (Montaigne amicus, as apostrophised by BernardLevin in Enthusiasms) for André Tournon’s self-confessed textual ‘cybernetic nightmare ... a text which reads and comments upon itself, a meditating machine operating by itself with interlocking ...

Great Tradition

Robert Barnard

18 December 1980
Plaster Sinners 
by Colin Watson.
Eyre Methuen, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 39040 3
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Photo-Finish 
by Ngaio Marsh.
Collins, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 00 231857 1
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The Predator 
by Russell Braddon.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1958 4
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... if it is not quite as good as her last one, this may be partly due to her setting. New Zealand, oddly enough, has never found her at her best. Then again, though its principal export (as we know from BernardLevin) is Kiri Te Kanawa, it has been through most of its history a land without opera. Nor is it easy to see New Zealand as a millionaire’s playground or the resort of the cultural jet-set, unless ...
22 October 1992
Nuclear Ambiguity: The Vanunu Affair 
by Yoel Cohen.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 297 pp., £10.99, July 1992, 1 85619 150 8
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... is reluctant even to press for better prison treatment for a man whom they, like their counterparts in Israel, regard as a traitor. Yet in recent months more and more journalists, joined recently by BernardLevin of the Times, have been demanding Vanunu’s immediate release. If this courageous and gentle man is allowed to go crazy in prison, then that will be as sure a sign as ever that the authorities ...

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