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Carolin Crawford: Explaining the Universe

19 May 2005
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality 
by Brian Greene.
Penguin, 569 pp., £7.99, February 2005, 0 14 101111 4
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... subjects, embracing such strange concepts as ‘dark energy’, ‘braneworlds’ and ‘wormholes’ – terms people may have heard of or perhaps read about, but still don’t really understand. BrianGreene, a leading expert in string theory, has now followed up his earlier, very successful book, The Elegant Universe, to give lucid and accessible explanations of a wider range of cosmological ...

Good Vibrations

George Ellis

30 March 2000
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for Ultimate Theory 
by Brian Greene.
Vintage, 448 pp., £7.99, February 2000, 9780099289920
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... complete the physicists’ ultimate dream – a Theory of Everything (TOE) that will explain the behaviour of all the fundamental particles and forces in a single framework. In The Elegant Universe, BrianGreene guides us through these fundamental ideas and recent developments in as full and comprehensible a way as is possible without going into the exceedingly difficult mathematics involved. He aims ...
9 June 1994
... informed about the places in the world which he cared about; academics wrote with lists of questions; publishers wrote looking for quotes for books they were about to publish. Authors wrote. In 1973 Greene wrote to Josef Skvorecky: ‘Your letters reach the length of a book by this time ... I feel sad that you are wasting such good material on me, but if you ever come to write about these events I can ...

Holy Roman Empire

Rosemary Dinnage

3 November 1983
Cold Heaven 
by Brian​ Moore.
Cape, 271 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 224 02099 4
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Time After Time 
by Molly Keane.
Deutsch, 247 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 9780233975870
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Winter’s Tale 
by Mark Helprin.
Weidenfeld, 673 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 297 78329 7
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by Judith Rossner.
Cape, 376 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 224 02172 9
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Kiss of Life 
by Keith Colquhoun.
Murray, 159 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 7195 4082 8
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... If Greeneland is the most famous sex ’n religion territory, its next-door neighbour must surely be Mooreland. Brian Moore has staked out a very specific American-Irish, Catholic subject-matter and has rightly earned high praise. Unlike Greene, he usually makes his central, guilt-ridden character a woman, and he is ...
1 October 1981
Pretender to the Throne: The Further Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin 
by Vladimir Voinovich, translated by Richard Lourie.
Cape, 358 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 9780224019668
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The Temptation of Eileen Hughes 
by Brian​ Moore.
Cape, 224 pp., £6.50, October 1981, 0 224 01936 8
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Silver’s City 
by Maurice Leitch.
Secker, 181 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 436 24413 6
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The Christmas Tree 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 167 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 0 241 10673 7
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... decay, at the harsher end violence and horror. There are plenty of locales to choose from; the Home Counties do not figure very largely; but Ireland does, and, increasingly, Northern Ireland. This is Brian Moore’s territory, Belfast and its environs; and even when his characters travel far from it, to Ville-franche, or Los Angeles or London, they are still enveloped in its miasma. The violence is ...

Openly reticent

Jonathan Coe

9 November 1989
Grand Inquisitor: Memoirs 
by Robin Day.
Weidenfeld, 296 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 297 79660 7
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by Kenneth Branagh.
Chatto, 244 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 0 7011 3388 0
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Storm over 4: A Personal Account 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Weidenfeld, 215 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79538 4
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... by the process of question and answer.’ What Day’s solemnity in this area brings out, obliquely, is the extent to which he has been out of step with BBC thinking ever since Hugh Carleton Greene took over as Director-General in 1960. A couple of surprisingly vitriolic pages are devoted to the ‘excesses’ of the satire boom – particularly TW3, the very existence of which he considers ...


Terry Eagleton

8 April 1993
No Other Life 
by Brian​ Moore.
Bloomsbury, 216 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 7475 1474 7
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... literary canon: having helped to reduce their country to a stagnant colonial enclave, the English then coolly appropriated those Irish artists who took to their heels to escape this dire condition. Brian Moore took off from Northern Ireland to North America many years ago, but this, as with Joyce, was just a way of putting some daylight between himself and the place in order the more effectively to ...

Naming of Parts

Patrick Parrinder

6 June 1985
Quinx or The Ripper’s Tale 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 201 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 571 13444 0
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Helliconia Winter 
by Brian​ Aldiss.
Cape, 285 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 224 01847 7
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Black Robe 
by Brian​ Moore.
Cape, 256 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02329 2
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... novel, which Pynchon presumably exemplifies: but that is all part of the magician’s patter and bluster. If naming in the ‘Avignon Quintet’ is a slippery and enigmatic casting of spells, in Brian Aldiss’s ‘Helliconia Trilogy’ its function is remorselessly cognitive. Helliconia is a remarkable instance of what is nowadays called world-building, a specialist activity which has reached the ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck

5 August 2010
Shades of GreeneOne Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... Graham Greene was more than half in love with easeful failure. He chose to end A Sort of Life, the sly memoir of his early years that stood in for an autobiography, with ‘the years of failure which followed the ...


Clair Wills: Plain Brian​ O’Nolan

4 April 2019
The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien 
edited by Maebh Long.
Dalkey Archive, 619 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 1 62897 183 5
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... In March​ 1957 Brian O’Nolan – better known under his pen names Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen – then aged 45, applied for a series of jobs at the radio broadcasting studios in Cork, including station ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian​ Moore

10 August 2000
Brian​ Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... In the second chapter of Brian Moore’s first novel The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Miss Hearne gets to know her fellow boarders, especially the landlady’s brother, the returned Yank, Mr Madden. They discuss the difference ...

Frog in your throat?

Terry Eagleton: How to Purge a Demon

9 May 2013
The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West 
by Brian​ Levack.
Yale, 346 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 0 300 11472 0
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... less impressive circuit than that of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. One woman vomited a live eel, followed by 24 pounds of various substances twice a day for two weeks. (With admirable judiciousness, Brian Levack, the author of The Devil Within, warns that ‘the veracity of such reports can be questioned on a number of grounds.’) Some young women’s limbs grew so stiff that the efforts of several ...

Spin Foam

Michael Redhead: Quantum Gravity

23 May 2002
Three Roads to Quantum Gravity: A New Understanding of Space, Time and the Universe 
by Lee Smolin.
Phoenix, 231 pp., £6.99, August 2001, 0 7538 1261 4
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... book belongs to a new genre of science writing, in which the author also tells the story of his own involvement in the research, so giving it a striking freshness. It’s reminiscent in this way of BrianGreene’s very successful The Elegant Universe, a book which covers some, but by no means all, of the same ground as Smolin. Indeed, the two complement each other nicely, for anyone who wants to ...
17 July 1980
The Lord of Greenwich 
by Juliet Dymoke.
Dobson, 224 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 234 72165 0
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A Flight of Swans 
by Barbara Willard.
Kestrel, 185 pp., £4.50, May 1980, 0 7226 5438 3
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Fanny and the Battle of Potter’s Piece 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 45 pp., £3.50, June 1980, 9780434949373
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John Diamond 
by Leon Garfield.
Kestrel, 180 pp., £4.50, April 1980, 9780722656198
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by Hans Peter Richter.
Kestrel, 150 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 7226 5285 2
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I was there 
by Hans Peter Richter.
Kestrel, 187 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 7226 6434 6
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The Time of the Young Soldiers 
by Hans Peter Richter.
Kestrel, 128 pp., £3.95, June 1980, 0 7226 5122 8
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The Runaway Train 
by Penelope Farmer.
Heinemann, 48 pp., £3.50, June 1980, 0 434 94938 8
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... Britains to seek an outlet overseas for all the manly endeavour that would otherwise be unbearably cooped up in one little island. The effect of such novels lasted well into our own century: Graham Greene has written that the stories of Rider Haggard were responsible for his lifelong interest in Africa. But for most children today, James Stephen’s prophecy of a time when ‘The Rudyards cease from ...


John Lanchester

24 May 1990
Chicago Loop 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 183 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 241 12949 4
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Lies of Silence 
by Brian​ Moore.
Bloomsbury, 194 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0610 8
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Amongst Women 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14284 2
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The Condition of Ice 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 170 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 436 19989 0
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... as Theroux, and had written the same books. My Secret History was about duality and secrecy, and their relationship to the business of writing; it was also about the ‘chip of ice’ that Graham Greene said exists in every writer’s heart. This chip is often talked about – and mentions of it on the part of writers are usually either a form of boasting or a plea for special treatment – but it ...

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