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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 about nine, he nearly 12 – my poor gentle father actually persuaded us to sign a peace treaty in the hope of halting our feud ...

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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... 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 phrases in foreign languages. Reading Davidson’s ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone, 1 October 1998

Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... to seem too dramatically intractable, and thus too easy; a way of reversing into simplicity. Christopher Lucas, Stone’s hero, is a journalist who is writing a book about the ‘Jerusalem Syndrome’, the way that city turns certain people into majnoon, or religious lunatics – who think they are the Messiah, or Moses, or Elvis, and who take Jerusalem ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

Duffy 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... or shame, for instance, that made Eric Blair rechristen himself at the start of his career? As Christopher Hollis tells us: ‘The reasons he gave for changing his name are oddly unconvincing. He complained that Blair was a Scots name and that he disliked Scotland because of its association with the deer forests about which his rich schoolfellows used to ...

‘No, no,’ replied the fat man

Michael Davie, 3 December 1992

The Power of News: The History of Reuters 
by Donald Read.
Oxford, 330 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 19 821776 5
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... The text tells us, though, that the Reuters correspondent in Abyssinia in 1935 was Major Jim Barnes, whose book The Universal Aspects of Fascism had contained a foreword by Mussolini, and who was regarded even by Sir Samuel Hoare, the Foreign Secretary who gave his name to the notorious Hoare-Laval Pact, as ‘an ardent Italian propagandist.’ ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord, 24 June 2010

... one fact which makes the case worth pursuing is the involvement of Shakespeare’s former landlord Christopher Mountjoy. There is an obvious link: like the three goldworkers, Mountjoy was French. Also like them, he lived in the Cripplegate area (though his house was within the London city walls, on respectable Silver Street, whereas the alleged fornicators ...

High on His Own Supply

Christopher Tayler: Amis Recycled, 11 September 2003

Yellow Dog 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2003, 0 224 05061 3
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... bike sheds, crack out the Rothmans and floor the wits with some incredibly dirty jokes. ‘Julian Barnes has said that novelists don’t write “about” their themes and subjects but “around” them,’ Amis has said, ‘and this is very much my sense of it’: Einstein’s Monsters ‘consisted of five short stories around nuclear weapons and an ...

Tennyson’s Text

Danny Karlin, 12 November 1987

The Poems of Tennyson 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Longman, 662 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 582 49239 4
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Tennyson’s ‘Maud’: A Definitive Edition 
edited by Susan Shatto.
Athlone, 296 pp., £28, August 1986, 0 485 11294 9
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The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Vol.2: 1851-1870 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 585 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 19 812691 3
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The New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 654 pp., £15.95, June 1987, 0 19 214154 6
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... included poem). The first half of the book has (in order) Tennyson, Emily Brontë, William Barnes, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Clare, Carroll, Clough, Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, and Arnold, who, fittingly, is the pivotal figure. After this, though big names are not lacking, their contribution weighs less, in several cases because ...

Who’s the alpha male now, bitches?

Andrew O’Hagan, 22 October 2015

... Christopher Harper-Mercer​ wrote that he had no life. He had no girlfriend and no job; the world was against him. He lived with his mother only a few miles from the Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Oregon, and he collected guns. He shot nine people dead at the college on 1 October and injured nine others before killing himself ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... adjoining table had been Don Bachardy, so I go back in and have a word, last having seen him with Christopher Isherwood 35 years ago. Then he was an olive-skinned doe-eyed boy who came round and did a drawing of me. Now he looks exactly as lsherwood did, even down to the little schoolboy sprout of hair at the back. A propos Pinochet, anybody brought up on ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... march of events’ is the same technique that is used in Sisson’s remarkable novel, Christopher Homm. Part Two does move forward, but, like a novel, uses the third person, and dialogue, to evoke the Indian experiences of a BOR – a British Other Rank – called Pearce. Poems written at the time of Sisson’s passage to India are interleaved ...

Be interesting!

John Lanchester: Martin Amis, 6 July 2000

Experience 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 401 pp., £18, May 2000, 0 224 05060 5
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... though, a passing waiter with an Instamatic could have easily bettered it. Nobody spoke. Not even Christopher Hitchens. And I really do hate Beckett’s prose: every sentence is an assault on my ear. So I said:      – Well I’ll do it for you. All you need is maximum ugliness and a lot of negatives. ‘Nor it the nothing never is.’ ‘Neither ...

Ismism

Evan Kindley: Modernist Magazines, 23 January 2014

The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 976 pp., £35, May 2013, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume II: North America 1894-1960 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 1088 pp., £140, July 2012, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume III: Europe 1880-1940 
edited by Peter Brooker, Sascha Bru, Andrew Thacker and Christian Weikop.
Oxford, 1471690 pp., £145, March 2013, 978 0 19 965958 6
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... regularly published modernist writers like Cocteau, Hemingway, Lawrence, Dos Passos and Djuna Barnes. (The New Yorker, founded in 1925, was considerably less daring: the fiction editor, Katharine White, rejected work by Gertrude Stein because ‘she was not allowed to buy anything her boss didn’t understand.’) H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan ...

Little Lame Balloonman

August Kleinzahler: E.E. Cummings, 9 October 2014

E.E. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 
edited by George James Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £36, September 2013, 978 0 87140 710 8
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E.E. Cummings: A Life 
by Susan Cheever.
Pantheon, 209 pp., £16, February 2014, 978 0 307 37997 9
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... the likes of Williams, Hart Crane, Marianne Moore, Edna St Vincent Millay, Allen Tate and Djuna Barnes, who also lived on Patchin Place, as Theodore Dreiser once had and Marlon Brando later would. He had become well regarded as an experimental poet, but he hadn’t yet become famous. Then, in 1931, he visited the USSR and was horrified by what he saw. His ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... businessmen and the City; for big landowners, rich people and posh people.’ So wrote Julian Barnes, describing Blair’s arrival on the scene to readers of the New Yorker in 1994. Cameron has gone to great lengths to present himself as such a leader. The party has tentatively distanced itself from big business. Public sector workers are courted rather ...

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