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8 February 1990
Boris Pasternak: The Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... and shrewdness. He does not take the subject too seriously either, which is a relief after the hagiographical approach of Guy de Mallac and others, worthy as their pioneering studies have been. But ChristopherBarnes’s ‘Literary Biography’, of which this solid work is the first of two volumes, will certainly become the standard and indispensable guide for students not only of the poet but of his age ...

Like choosing between bacon and egg and bacon and tomato

Christopher​ Tayler: The Wryness of Julian Barnes

15 April 2004
The Lemon Table 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 213 pp., £16.99, March 2004, 9780224071987
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... Julian Barnes’s new book of short stories is concerned with old age and death. Barnes – who was born in 1946 – should have a few years to go before he experiences either condition, but his fiction has always been precociously interested in both. He visited the afterlife, in the ...

‘Oh no Oh No OH NO’

Thomas Jones: Julian Barnes

17 February 2011
Pulse 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 228 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 224 09108 4
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Nothing to Be Frightened Of 
by Julian Barnes.
Vintage, 250 pp., £8.99, March 2009, 978 0 09 952374 1
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... The 21-year-old narrator of Julian Barnes’s first novel, Metroland (1980), suggests that ‘everyone has a perfect age to which they aspire, and they’re only truly at ease with themselves when they get there. I suppose with most people ...

Looking back

John Sutherland

22 May 1980
Metroland 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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Creator 
by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... Coronation year, 1953. David Lodge’s new novel (How far can you go?) charts Catholic perplexity in the face of the permissive Sixties, Humanae Vitae and the abolition of National Service. Julian Barnes’s very much à la mode Metroland is divided into three sections: I Metroland (1963), II Paris (1968), III Metroland (1977). Current fashions apart, the narrative circuit is familiar from Orwell’s ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels

23 August 2001
... the question more than once in his column, ‘The World of Books’. And in a recent issue of the Guardian, Stephen Moss, that paper’s former literary editor, has asked: ‘Why do Rushdie, McEwan, Barnes and Amis still dominate Britain’s literary scene?’ Without so much as a flutter of irony, Moss quotes an anonymous ‘leading critic’ denouncing ‘the media’s obsession’ with Rushdie etc ...
7 August 1980
History of Him 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 96 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 436 18841 4
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... and on the whole welcome activities since those days – broadcaster, essayist, anthologist, nature-writer and art historian – it is as a sympathetic critic of some of the quieter poets (Clare, Barnes, Christopher Smart) and an acrid critic of many others, including most of his contemporaries, that Grigson is first thought of. Not Mr Grigson the poet, his eye in a fine frenzy rolling, but Mr ...

Saucy to Princes

Gerald Hammond: The Bible

25 July 2002
The Book: A History of the Bible 
by Christopher​ de Hamel.
Phaidon, 352 pp., £24.95, September 2001, 0 7148 3774 1
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The Wycliffe New Testament 1388 
edited by W.R. Cooper.
British Library, 528 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 7123 4728 3
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... Kristeva had seen the fragment and perhaps the tenth time I had, but I doubt that our sense of wonder was any different. There, in its portable transparent box, was the earliest relic of the Book. In Christopher de Hamel’s history, the Rylands fragment is reproduced life-size in the final chapter: life-size but not, to my faulty memory at least, very true to its actual appearance. In the reproduction the ...
2 December 1982
The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James Goldsmith: The Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... a history of the Eye, written by a long-term staffer of the Eye and co-published by the Eye. Reviewers? Auberon Waugh in the Daily Mail; John Wells twice, once in Harper’s and once in the Times; Christopher Booker in the Spectator; Malcolm Muggeridge in the Daily Telegraph; Candida Lycett-Green (who was in love with Ingrams at Oxford, speaks adoringly of him in this book, and once worked for the Eye) in ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’

15 December 2011
... Private Eye, £25). The in-house author Adam Macqueen recycles many of the good old stories and tells us much about the comings and goings at the magazine. The book is good on editorial tiffs. How Christopher Booker, the original editor, was fired while on holiday in 1963; how he went on, in 1976, to lay into the Eye just as Goldsmith, who had issued 63 writs against the magazine and its distributors and ...

Faber Book of Groans

Christopher​ Ricks

1 March 1984
Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 
by Philip Larkin.
Faber, 315 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 571 13120 4
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... to him.” ’ The feeling of magnanimity comes as well from the fact that Larkin’s devoting himself almost entirely to writers who are usually condescended to as ‘minor’ (Housman, William Barnes, de la Mare, Betjeman) is itself a various and sustained argument for inverting the usual priorities and for seeing these poets’ virtues as the truly important ones. Indeed, Larkin can retrieve the ...

Diary

Christopher​ Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event

20 April 1995
... or really for all the little people, or really for their spouses and children. It’s interesting and rather frightening when people ignore, or don’t understand, jokes made at their expense. Julian Barnes once wrote a salutary essay on this, recalling the great Monty Python sketch about an obscure island completely inhabited by men sounding and looking like Alan Whicker. They paced to and fro, droning ...

It’s Been a Lot of Fun

David Runciman: Hitchens’s Hitchens

24 June 2010
Hitch-22: A Memoir 
by Christopher​ Hitchens.
Atlantic, 435 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84354 921 5
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... In his book about religion, Peter Hitchens has a lot more to say about his brother Christopher than Christopher has to say about Peter in his book about himself.* ‘Some brothers get on,’ Peter writes mournfully, ‘some do not. We were the sort that just didn’t.’ He continues: At one stage – I was ...

Diary

Christopher​ Hitchens: The Salman Rushdie Acid Test

24 February 1994
... richly-worked Korans for the Oxford Centre? Did they also ensure a ‘non-controversial’ address from a monarchy whose sworn historic duty is the defence of the realm and its subjects? As Julian Barnes has recently pointed out, the same curious omission occurs in the memoirs of Baroness Thatcher. Never jollier than when seconding Good Queen Bess at Tilbury, and repudiating any foreigner who durst ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher​ Glazek: Edmund White

19 July 2012
Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... to the suburban everyman. It’s not enough to say that the modernist canon is well stocked with homosexuals; between Proust, Mann, Gide, Genet, Forster, Woolf, Stein, Langston Hughes, Djuna Barnes and Henry James, it may be more accurate to say that the modernist novel is a queer invention with a smattering of heterosexual imitators, many of them notably preoccupied with queer concerns. After ...

Provincialism

Denis Donoghue: Karlin’s collection of Victorian verse

4 June 1998
The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Danny Karlin.
Allen Lane, 851 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780713990492
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... with other anthologies of English verse of the same period (Victoria’s reign 1837-1901) and of the 19th century as a whole. His major precursors are Quiller-Couch, Yeats, Auden, George MacBeth, Christopher Ricks and Ian Fletcher. I don’t intend a Shopper’s Guide, but I’ll start with two small complaints. Unlike Fletcher, Karlin doesn’t give explanatory notes, except for a few dialect words and ...

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