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Frank knew best

Martin Pawley, 7 April 1994

Frank Lloyd Wright. The Lost Years, 1910-1922: A Study of Influences 
by Anthony Alofsin.
Chicago, 456 pp., £43.95, March 1994, 0 226 01366 9
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... It may not be remembered in the current mammoth Frank Lloyd Wright retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art, but in May 1939, just after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Frank Lloyd Wright paid a significant visit to England. His purpose was to deliver four lectures to the RIBA; lectures that he supplemented by showing 16 mm colour films of life at Taliesin West, the Arizona winter home of his peripatetic architectural family ...

Let us breakfast in splendour

Charles Nicholl: Francis Barber, 15 July 2015

The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir 
by Michael Bundock.
Yale, 282 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20710 1
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... are James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Edmund Burke, Pasquale Paoli, Charles Burney, Thomas Warton and Oliver Goldsmith. Their names appear below the image, cursively engraved, appositely placed: one might almost be looking at a signed group photograph of 18th-century luminaries. In fact the picture is Victorian, painted in about ...

Four Poems

Charles Boyle, 23 November 1989

... gold letters on its cover, into a purple plastic bag, adding bookmark, receipt, a smile, a frank and beautiful smile, still insisting that Stephen and Julia are leaving tomorrow, it could be their last chance ...

Vaguely on the Run

Sam Gilpin: J.G. Ballard, 16 November 2000

Super-Cannes 
by J.G. Ballard.
Flamingo, 392 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 00 225847 1
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... of both books with a striking combination of silver images and dayglo titles.) In Cocaine Nights, Charles Prentice, the narrator-detective, is a professional travel writer who visits his younger brother, Frank, in southern Spain. Frank had been working as a bar manager in Estrella de Mar ...

Janet and Jason

T.D. Armstrong, 5 December 1985

To the Is-Land: An Autobiography 
by Janet Frame.
Women’s Press, 253 pp., £4.95, April 1984, 0 7043 3904 8
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An Angel at My Table. An Autobiography: Vol. II 
by Janet Frame.
Women’s Press, 195 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2844 5
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The Envoy from Mirror City. An Autobiography: Vol. III 
by Janet Frame.
Women’s Press, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 7043 2875 5
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You are now entering the human heart 
by Janet Frame.
Women’s Press, 203 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 7043 2849 6
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Conversation in a Train 
by Frank Sargeson.
Oxford, 220 pp., £14, February 1985, 9780196480237
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... is also a refuge.’ After her final release, Frame stayed for a period with the Auckland writer Frank Sargeson, who had been one of the first to recognise her skills. In a review of The Lagoon he commented on the ‘piercing flavour of anguish and suffering’ in the stories: the review appears in the present collection of his pieces, which do much to evoke ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode, 6 June 1985

The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... the knowledge that Sir Archy MacSarcasm and Sir Pertinax MacSycophant come from a play by Charles Macklin, together with Sir Callagham O’Brallaghan. As it happens, this information is still to be found in the fifth edition, and I suppose it might be vital to somebody some day. Drabble, as this tiny example shows, has used Harvey as a data base, but ...

Under the Loincloth

Frank Kermode, 3 April 1997

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Chicago, 417 pp., £23.95, January 1997, 0 226 77187 3
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... Gowing, Michael Levey, Richard Wollheim, Marina Warner and, singled out for a special treatment, Charles Hope – are, in this new edition, keenly reprehended. It should be said that Steinberg, a lively and resourceful writer, could not with any justice be charged with irreverence or lubricity. That he greatly enjoyed researching, writing and defending his ...

Certainties

Donald Davie, 20 May 1982

In Defence of the Imagination 
by Helen Gardner.
Oxford, 197 pp., £12.50, February 1982, 0 19 812639 5
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... to have the backing of some powerful though shadowy committee, as when in the first of these Charles Eliot Norton lectures she declares, with no shadow of demonstration or argument, that Thomas Hardy the poet ‘cannot by any standard of evaluation be called great’. Though an Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford obviously speaks on such ...

The Flight of a Clergyman’s Wife

Gareth Stedman Jones, 27 May 1993

Annie Besant: A Biography 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 383 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 19 211796 3
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... in her day-to-day life, the tension remained palpable many years afterwards. According to Charles Bradlaugh’s daughter, Hypatia, ‘she was the most tactless person I ever knew.’ But even for those who disliked her methods, denied her inspiration and opposed her opinions, there was something about her which compelled admiration. To Nehru, who had ...

Echoes

Tom Phillips, 2 April 1981

English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... so well into Post-Modernism that Neo-Modernism must be just over the hill. Indeed, according to Frank Kermode, we passed out of Palaeo-Modernism some time ago (imperceptibly, one presumes, as through the tail of a comet). He might, however, be consoled by the knowledge that artists themselves are confused, though themselves in turn consoled by remembering ...

With Slip and Slapdash

Frank Kermode: Auden’s Prose, 7 February 2008

TheComplete Works of W.H. Auden. Vol. III: Prose, 1949-55 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 779 pp., £29.95, December 2007, 978 0 691 13326 3
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... Pauline epigraph: ‘I had not known sin, but by the law.’ He always had gurus – Gerald Heard, Charles Williams, Georg Groddeck, Homer Lane. Some quietly faded away, but with a few he enjoyed an enduring sympathy: Forster and Virginia Woolf, for instance, and Eliot, with the respect due to the publisher of his first book of poems, but staying well short of ...

Larks

Patricia Craig, 19 September 1985

But for Bunter 
by David Hughes.
Heinemann, 223 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 434 35410 4
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Bunter Sahib 
by Daniel Green.
Hodder, 272 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 340 36429 7
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The Good Terrorist 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 370 pp., £9.50, September 1985, 0 224 02323 3
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Unexplained Laughter 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 155 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7156 2070 3
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Polaris and Other Stories 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 237 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 340 33227 1
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... schoolfellows make allowances for him. Aitken, in the Hughes novel, complains about the travesty Frank Richards made of his character – obese he may have been, obtuse never. There’s the History Prize he won in 1910 to testify to his possession of actual brains in place of the low cunning ascribed to Bunter. It may also be meant to remind us of Aitken’s ...

Dubliners

Charles Lysaght, 20 March 1980

Dublin made me 
by C.S. Andrews.
Mercier Press, 312 pp., £9, November 1979, 0 85342 606 6
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Home before Night 
by Hugh Leonard.
Deutsch, 202 pp., £5.25, October 1979, 0 233 97138 6
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... and much of it is an account of his own reactions – a kind of personal odyssey. The writer is as frank about himself as about everybody else, and there is none of the smooth smarminess that has become commonplace in the memoirs of successful men. ‘In my case,’ he writes, ‘the chemistry of attraction and repulsion is particularly strong. I am very much ...

Stewarts on the dole

Rosalind Mitchison, 10 November 1988

Bonnie Prince Charlie 
by Rosalind Marshall.
HMSO, 208 pp., £8.50, April 1988, 0 11 493420 7
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Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Biography 
by Susan Maclean Kybett.
Unwin Hyman, 343 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 04 440213 9
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Charles Edward Stuart: A Tragedy in Many Acts 
by Frank McLynn.
Routledge, 640 pp., £24.95, September 1988, 0 415 00272 9
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Mary Queen of Scots: A Study in Failure 
by Jenny Wormald.
George Philip, 206 pp., £14.95, March 1988, 0 540 01131 2
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Mary Stewart: Queen in Three Kingdoms 
edited by Michael Lynch.
Blackwell, 238 pp., £25, July 1988, 0 631 15263 6
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The Shadow of a Crown: The Life Story of James II of England and VII of Scotland 
by Meriol Trevor.
Constable, 320 pp., £15, June 1988, 0 09 467850 2
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The Scottish Tory Party: A History 
by Gerald Warner.
Weidenfeld, 247 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 9780297791010
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The Elgins, 1766-1917: A Tale of Aristocrats, Proconsuls and their Wives 
by Sydney Checkland.
Aberdeen University Press, 303 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 08 036395 4
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... in the 19th century: but for most people in England Scottish history means Mary and Prince Charles Edward, whose deaths, one of which was directly caused by England, are associated with ’87 and ’88. This setting in time is unfair on those of us who try to show that Scottish society had its own interesting line of development, a topic which neither ...

How does he come to be mine?

Tim Parks: Dickens’s Children, 8 August 2013

Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 239 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 0 374 29880 7
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... in the garden with some of the older children. In Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, Robert Gottlieb quotes the letter in which Dickens explains to his wife what happened: ‘Presently, we heard them come back and say to each other with some alarm: “Why, the gate’s shut, and they are all gone!” Ally began in a dismayed way ...

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