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Diary

Julian Girdham: Mansergh v. Arnold

21 June 1984
... examinations of our ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ – these are the stuff of our latest native industry. Just try finding a book on ‘the English identity’ in Foyle’s or Black-well’s. BruceArnold, a political commentator for the Irish Independent, has now added his contribution to this profusion, What Kind of Country, subtitled ‘Modern Irish Politics 1968-1983’.* This book was the ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín

10 June 1993
Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... he developed a reputation for being caring and cultured as well as tough. He was still in his mid-forties. He had everything going for him until the first crisis arose and the North blew up in 1969. BruceArnold has been a commentator on Irish political and cultural life for the past thirty years. He writes about politics using logic and reason, which is unusual in Ireland. He is able to write about ...

Paint Run Amuck

Frank Kermode: Jack Yeats

12 November 1998
Jack Yeats 
by Bruce Arnold.
Yale, 418 pp., £29.95, September 1998, 0 300 07549 9
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... honestly avoid the issue. It raises with urgency the question whether Jack Yeats does not deserve, like his brother, to be hailed, even by the non-Irish, as great in the more absolute sense. That BruceArnold has a profound admiration for his subject is evident from the minute care of his research, but he avoids idolatry, and this measure of reserve lends credibility to his estimate of the painter ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley

11 July 2002
Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... more young brain cells; Huxley has certainly sold more copies. Murray discerns three events as having formed young Aldous’s personality: the premature death of his mother, Julia Huxley (née Arnold), when he was 14; his temporary blindness three years later; and – most damaging – the suicide of his older brother, Trevenen, who hanged himself when Aldous was 20. These traumas resurface ...

Made in Heaven

Frank Kermode

10 November 1994
Frieda Lawrence 
by Rosie Jackson.
Pandora, 240 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 9780044409151
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The Married Man: A Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Brenda Maddox.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 631 pp., £20, August 1994, 1 85619 243 1
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Kangaroo 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce​ Steele.
Cambridge, 493 pp., £60, August 1994, 0 521 38455 9
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Twilight in Italy and Other Essays 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Paul Eggert.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £55, August 1994, 0 521 26888 5
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... some said, childlike, the other side of his gaiety. As for his personal treacheries, which were many, they were not so different from those of his middle-class friends. You can just imagine Matthew Arnold sighing: ‘What a set!’ But now the temptation is to say, hopelessly, that they should all, gentry and peasant, be left alone for a century or two. Maddox has some pages about the Australian ...

Embracing Islam

Patrick Parrinder

4 April 1991
Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 
by Salman Rushdie.
Granta, 432 pp., £17.99, March 1991, 9780140142242
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... as Gramsci would have said, the old was dying, and yet the new could not be born.’ The reference to Gramsci is rather strange here, since the writer whom Rushdie is indisputably echoing is Matthew Arnold. Although ‘Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse’, Arnold’s great poem on the ‘two worlds’ trope, seems profoundly antipathetic to Rushdie’s temper, it has some relevance to the dilemma in ...

Costume Codes

David Trotter

12 January 1995
Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel 
by Jane Eldridge Miller.
Virago, 241 pp., £15.99, October 1994, 1 85381 830 5
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... Richardson’s, or Virginia Woolf’s. 1924 was the year of Woolf’s ground-breaking essay on ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’, which urges the development of new narrative techniques and criticises Arnold Bennett and other Edwardian novelists for doing exactly what Hall does throughout The Unlit Lamp: deduce identity from a description of environment and appearance. Literary scholars have tended to ...

This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John Sparrow

1 October 1998
The Warden 
by John Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... of Sparrow’s oldest friends, I was reminded of Auden’s line about Housman keeping ‘tears like dirty postcards in a drawer’. Then I remembered the line by which the same poet skewered Matthew Arnold: ‘And thrust his gift in prison till it died’. Sparrow was a man who appeared to have had every girt handed him by the gods: unshakeable homosexuality – no pram in the hall to make war on his ...

The Cow Bells of Kitale

Patrick Collinson: The Selwyn Affair

5 June 2003
... At this point the Dean of Winchester took up the cudgels. During August and September 1934 he never ceased to exert himself on behalf of his sister-in-law. Geoffrey’s great-grandfather was Thomas Arnold of Rugby, which meant that Matthew Arnold was a great-uncle. Geoffrey was born in the spring of 1888 at Toxteth, where his father was principal of Liverpool College. His mother, one of the daughters ...
17 September 1998
Shadows on the Hudson 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Joseph Sherman.
Hamish Hamilton, 560 pp., £16.99, June 1998, 0 241 13940 6
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Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Life 
by Janice Hadda.
Oxford, 254 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 19 508420 9
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... the mark. The family often noted that both Singer and his wife were frugal and ungenerous. On the other hand, for the first 21 years of their marriage, Alma supported them both, selling dresses at Arnold Constable, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor. She seems to have been the one who handled financial matters, while Singer hid behind the persona of humble immigrant. In his old age and after his death, she ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe

23 May 1996
The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... to have coincided with his (the nostalgists seem to be exclusively male) twenties or thirties. The identity of the villain who thrust the New Statesman out of Eden is correspondingly various, with Bruce Page remaining by far the most popular whipping-boy, but with minority lobbies also fingering Richard Crossman, Anthony Howard and all the other post-Sixties editors. There is little disagreement ...

Everyone’s Pal

John Sutherland: Louis de Bernières

13 December 2001
Red Dog 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 119 pp., £10, October 2001, 0 436 25617 7
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Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World 
by Louis de Bernières.
Vintage, 119 pp., £6.99, October 2001, 9780099428442
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... violence interspersed with moments of wisecracking, slapsticky humour – and respond positively to both . . . Audiences embraced this new style of movie, and the genre would revive the careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and make international box-office stars out of Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis. Although it is tempting to align de Bernières with Gabriel García Márquez, whose ...

Travellers

John Kerrigan

13 October 1988
Archaic Figure 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 113 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 571 15043 8
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Tourists 
by Grevel Lindop.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 85635 697 2
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Sleeping rough 
by Charles Boyle.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1987, 0 85635 731 6
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This Other Life 
by Peter Robinson.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 85635 737 5
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In the Hot-House 
by Alan Jenkins.
Chatto, 60 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3312 0
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Monterey Cypress 
by Lachlan Mackinnon.
Chatto, 62 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3264 7
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My Darling Camel 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 64 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3286 8
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The Air Mines of Mistila 
by Philip Gross and Sylvia Kantaris.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £4.95, June 1988, 1 85224 055 5
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X/Self 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 131 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 0 19 281987 9
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The Arkansas Testament 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 117 pp., £3.95, March 1988, 9780571149094
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... will find our tourist networks as baffling as the Songlines which stretch across aboriginal Australia. At which point, they should turn to the poets. For just as the Songlines are, to use Bruce Chatwin’s image, ‘a spaghetti of Iliads and Odysseys, writhing this way and that, in which every “episode” [is] readable’, so the quick and shallow tracks of tourism retrace our oldest ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?

5 February 2004
The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce​ Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... at some deep level boring because it is so much on one side or the other. William Shawcross surprised and disappointed many of his admirers by coming out as a big Murdoch fan in his 1992 biography. Bruce Page’s recent work, The Murdoch Archipelago, is as badly written as any book I have ever read, and is full of sentences which don’t mean quite what their author seems to think they do, but it ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland

23 September 2004
... Pentecostals and fundamentalists clearly believe their man is in the White House. Kevin Phillips, the author of American Dynasty, has given the association some thought: Biblical scholar Bruce Lincoln’s line-by-line analysis of Bush’s 7 October 2001 address to the nation announcing the US attack on Afghanistan identified a half dozen veiled borrowings from the Book of Revelation ...

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