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Arabia Revisita

Reyner Banham, 4 December 1980

Travels in Arabia Deserts 
by Charles Doughty.
Dover, 674 pp., £11.35, June 1980, 0 486 23825 3
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... Monck, perennial director of the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, who first set me to reading Doughty’s desert monsterpiece. The ostensible reason was our glee at discovering Henry Reed’s poem about the ‘rose red sissy half as old as time’, which reads remarkably like a description of Monck himself, and which prompted him to direct my attention to ...

Making history

Malise Ruthven, 19 June 1986

Gertrude Bell 
by Susan Goodman.
Berg, 122 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 907582 86 9
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Freya Stark 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Viking, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 670 80675 7
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... in 1878. She went to seek respite from her passionate but unconsummated love affair with Richard Doughty-Wylie (nephew of the great explorer Charles Doughty), whom she had met when he was British Consul in Konya. Doughty-Wylie was married, and was not prepared to risk his career by ...

Water Music

Allon White, 2 September 1982

Oh what a paradise it seems 
by John Cheever.
Cape, 99 pp., £5.50, July 1982, 0 224 02930 4
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Collected Short Stories 
by John Cheever.
Penguin, 704 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 14 005575 4
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So long a Letter 
by Mariama Bâ, translated by Modupé Bodé-Thomas.
Virago, £5.50, August 1982, 0 86068 295 1
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A joke goes a long way in the country 
by Alannah Hopkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 157 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 241 10798 9
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... Lemuel Sears is old, but still sprightly enough to embark on a new love affair, and still doughty enough to tackle the local mobsters when they turn the town beauty spot (Beasley’s pond) into a municipal dump. Success and disappointment mix unpredictably in Sears’s life. Love had ‘always involved some clumsiness’, and his romantic pursuit of ...

Morality in the Oxygen

E.S. Turner: Tobogganing, 14 December 2000

How the English Made the Alps 
by Jim Ring.
Murray, 287 pp., £19.99, September 2000, 0 7195 5689 9
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Killing Dragons: The Conquest of the Alps 
by Fergus Fleming.
Granta, 398 pp., £20, November 2000, 1 86207 379 1
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... read over them the 90th Psalm, from a prayer-book found in the pocket of the dead divine, the Rev. Charles Hudson. Unsurprisingly, the Swiss authorities were displeased about corpses being committed to their snows by English clergymen – Switzerland was not yet an English colony, though beginning to look like one – and the bodies were reinterred at ...


Jon Halliday, 2 June 1983

In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... the other luminaries, many of whom pass through his pages leaving hardly a trace. David Frost, Charles Douglas-Home, Andrew Knight (the editor of the Economist), Frank Giles, Richard Kershaw, Stephen Spender and others eat and drink their way, sometimes to Tehran, but never, it would seem, to saying anything very interesting or useful. A string of ...


R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don, 8 May 1986

... now.’ Alan’s other causes seldom won: I can’t remember him finding a single taker for his doughty defence of Beaverbrook’s reputation, or for the proposition that Michael Foot would make a great prime minister. For many people mention of Alan’s name immediately brings to mind the great brouhaha over the Regius Chair in History. His ...

Grub Street Snob

Terry Eagleton: ‘Fanny Hill’, 13 September 2012

Fanny Hill in Bombay: The Making and Unmaking of John Cleland 
by Hal Gladfelder.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £28.50, July 2012, 978 1 4214 0490 5
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... to attorney, and from there to secretary of the Bombay council. One of his colleagues in India, Charles Carmichael, encouraged him to try his hand at a piece of pornography, though Gladfelder, who has a penchant for the dialogic and intertextual, speculates that the work, later to become Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure and then, revised and ...


Andrew Saint: The Jubilee Line Extension, 20 January 2000

... always linked today with the design and image of the Underground, and with his fellow Northerner, Charles Holden, the architect who restyled several of the interchanges and built new stations on the ends of the Northern and Piccadilly Lines. Together, Pick and Holden are fabled to have created a ‘classic’ Underground image and tradition: signs, a language ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... power. Jennings’s conception of Mass-Observation, like that of his friend and fellow founder Charles Madge, was broadly Surrealist. The project began at the end of 1936 with a letter Madge wrote to the New Statesman arguing that the abdication crisis and the burning down of the Crystal Palace had produced a ‘symbolic situation’, a ‘coincidence in ...

Beware Biographers

Jackson Lears: Kennan and Containment, 24 May 2012

George Kennan: An American Life 
by John Lewis Gaddis.
Penguin, 784 pp., £30, December 2011, 978 1 59420 312 1
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Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War 
by Frank Costigliola.
Princeton, 533 pp., £24.95, January 2012, 978 0 691 12129 1
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... acquired canonical status in the tale that Cold War liberals told themselves, the story of a doughty band of realists, inspired by Kennan to steer a middle course between sentimental dreams of appeasement and apocalyptic fantasies of pre-emptive attack. (There was always a whacked-out right wing to make bellicose liberals look moderate.) In the ...

The Ultimate Socket

David Trotter: On Sylvia Townsend Warner, 23 June 2022

Lolly Willowes 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Penguin, 161 pp., £9.99, October 2020, 978 0 241 45488 6
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Valentine Ackland: A Transgressive Life 
by Frances Bingham.
Handheld Press, 344 pp., £15.99, May 2021, 978 1 912766 40 6
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... for publication in book form as The Espalier by Chatto and Windus in 1925. Her editor at Chatto, Charles Prentice, asked if she had anything else to hand, so she sent him the manuscript of Lolly Willowes, a novel about a witch: its publication in 1926 made her famous.* Lolly Willowes tells the story of a middle-aged spinster aunt – ‘useful and obliging ...

High Jinks at the Plaza

Perry Anderson, 22 October 1992

The British Constitution Now 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 289 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 47994 2
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Constitutional Reform 
by Robert Brazier.
Oxford, 172 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 876257 7
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Anatomy of Thatcherism 
by Shirley Letwin.
Fontana, 364 pp., £6.99, October 1992, 0 00 686243 8
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... of American neo-conservatism – Alan Bloom, Harvey Mansfield, Joseph Epstein, Hilton Kramer, Charles Murray, Paul Craig Roberts, Irving Kristol, even such names for the connoisseur as Richard Cornuelle – they are among the fruits of a mutually beneficial association. For on the one side, there are limits to local supply – the efforts of Conor Cruise ...

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