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Insupportable

John Bayley

19 February 1987
A Choice of Kipling’s Prose 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 448 pp., £12.50, January 1987, 0 571 13735 0
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Kipling’s Kingdom: His Best Indian Stories 
by Charles Allen.
Joseph, 288 pp., £14.95, January 1987, 0 7181 2570 3
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... the garden. It is there she has the experience of finding the wounded German airman, presumably fallen from his plane. Mary’s subsequent behaviour seems to her eminently right and natural, as natural as her instinct to cherish Wynn had been, and she does not see, although the story does, that Wynn had been training to do just what the German may have ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937

24 September 2009
Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... Lois and Charles Orr, an inquisitive, left-of-left couple, arrived in Barcelona in the autumn of 1936. Charles was 30, a serious fellow from Michigan; Lois was 19, more or less fresh from Kentucky. They had married earlier in the year and decided on a honeymoon in Europe. In Catalonia, a matter of weeks after Franco’s military uprising against the Second Spanish Republic, they settled happily into a political climate of intrigue and rivalry among the variegated species of anti-Fascists who failed, in the end, to hold the pass: bourgeois democrats and left republicans, socialists, anarchists and Marxists, as well as a host of foreigners, many in tune with the doctrines of the Communist International ...
2 October 1997
Corbusier’s Formative Years 
by H. Allen Brooks.
Chicago, 506 pp., £51.95, June 1997, 0 226 07579 6
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... high in a bowl of the Jura, it is fringed by mountains and pines, in which Emeritus Professor Allen Brooks, musing from the tranquillity of retirement, revels at leisure. ‘Allow time to climb the road,’ he admonishes readers eager to tick off the Villa Fallet, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret’s first house, on the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Meeting the Royals

19 February 2015
... It was​ in Charles Dickens’s upstairs sitting room that I met the future king of England. The Duchess of Cornwall was wearing a red paisley silk coat and dress by Anna Valentine. I know that because I was peeping out of the window and heard a lady from the Daily Mail say so into her mobile phone while she stalked the pavement outside ...

Kooked

Mark Ford

10 March 1994
Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... variety of claimants. A list of poets who have profited from his achievement would include Allen Ginsberg and Louis Zukofsky (both Jewish), the Lowell of Notebook, the Orientally-minded Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder on whom Cathay made such an impact, British poets as different from each other as Donald Davie and Jeremy Prynne, Objectivists like ...
20 April 1995
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... Fame is difficult for a writer to deal with,’ Thom Gunn writes in his essay on Allen Ginsberg’s poetry. ‘It dries you up, or it makes you think you are infallible, or your writing becomes puffed out with self-esteem. (Victor Hugo thought himself superior to both Jesus and Shakespeare.) It is a complication that the imagination can well do without ...
5 October 1995
Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... work up much enthusiasm for the post-Olsonian outpourings of the Seventies, most notably Allen Fisher’s Place, Place was set largely south of the river, a nowhere defined by unnecessary particulars. Now Roy Fisher, he could do something with him – but the man had the poor taste to base his mythology on Birmingham. My problem was the contrary ...

Reviewers

Marilyn Butler

22 January 1981
Three-Quarter Face 
by Penelope Gilliatt.
Secker, 295 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436179587
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Show People 
by Kenneth Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77842 0
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When the lights go down 
by Pauline Kael.
Boyars, 592 pp., £8.95, August 1980, 0 7145 2726 2
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... followed by Max Beerbohm, Sainte-Beuve and John Aubrey. A brusque kiss-off to Francis Bacon, Charles Lamb, La Bruyère and the best of Mencken, not to mention Svetonius’s Lives of the Caesars; and into the garbage goes Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, perhaps the finest book of profile-essays ever written ... I am not, of course, claiming a place ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman

15 July 2015
... the funeral of the alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman. No one mentioned the atrocity in Charleston explicitly; no one had to. We were in the church where Martin Luther King declared his opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967. We were honouring the life of America’s leading free jazz musician in a dramatic week for freedom in America. The Supreme ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban

23 July 1987
Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... half the 35 contributors, few of whom bother to make it clear whether they mean Robert Lowell, or Allen Ginsberg, or the Black Mountain imitators of William Carlos Williams. ‘The Liverpool Poets’ are regarded with a mixture of fear and derision. ‘The ranks of the illiterate raise puerile and rhythmless voices,’ wrote Roy Fuller. ‘Infantile ...

Antic Santa

James Francken: Nathan Englander

28 October 1999
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges 
by Nathan Englander.
Faber, 205 pp., £9.99, May 1999, 0 571 19691 8
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... that Saul Bellow has described, the rules that restrain ‘haughty, spinning, crazy spirit’. Charles Morton Luger, high-flying financial analyst and ‘Christian non-believer’, has an epiphany in the opening paragraph of The Gilgul of Park Avenue’. Not a sudden, dizzying revelation – colours are ‘no brighter or darker’ as he sits in the back of ...

Diary

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Peddling Books

21 January 1988
... became a succès de scandale as well as modestly profitable for some years. Aubrey Beardsley and Charles Ricketts were among the illustrators who often delighted and sometimes shocked public opinion; the young Max Beerbohm and Oscar Wilde among the best-known of the writers. And with the often splendid Yellow Book, first published in 1894, the firm achieved ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... effortlessly since birth from one favourable literary atmosphere to another. His father had heard Charles Dickens read when he was six, had helped to found Granta and furiously defended the Liberal cause at the Punch table. John himself had been at Eton with Alan Pryce-Jones, Anthony Powell, Eric Blair and Cyril Connolly, who, we are told, stood at the door ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster

18 March 2004
... Hamilton archives are, substantially, on loan at Bristol University library, in recognition of Allen Lane’s birthplace. In the 1970s Ian Fletcher and Jim Edwards at Reading University had the bright idea of offering publishers what was in effect curatorship in return for deposit. Reading took on the Macmillan and Longman business materials, which would ...

Steamy, Seamy

David Margolick: The Mob’s Cuban Kleptocracy

20 March 2008
The Havana Mob: Gangsters, Gamblers, Showgirls and Revolutionaries in 1950s Cuba 
by T.J. English.
Mainstream, 400 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 1 84596 192 3
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... into a room near the top of the Nacional, they offered the kind of Hollywood freeze-frame Woody Allen spoofed in Take the Money and Run: Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, the legendary mobster Lansky helped spring from an American prison long before he finished his 30-to-50-year sentence for running a prostitution racket; Vito ...

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