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Memres of Alfred Stoker

Christopher Reid, 7 August 1986

... come for Hene Harry Peg stol the Doters hat but she was Cott: he being Old whit berd Like the Old King smild angerlie give me Ma sad ile Tan you my girl pa a way and she wolop Pege after Than pa come in he sade wer is harry and Ma cride he past over and pa Lift his Ey on to HEVEN its a Merce * all so 2 older: Ma sad you woned for the ANGEL blesing she rade ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: Keywords, 13 September 1990

... look like a retired torturer. Conducting me smoothly to my hotel (‘Are you a member of the drinking classes? I think the Armenian brandy might tickle your fancy’), he laboured to dispel the image of the unsmiling xenophobic Iraqi which the rest of Baghdad society was at such pains to reinforce. I didn’t know whether to bless or curse my luck when he ...

Royal Anxiety

Gabriele Annan, 9 June 1994

The Queen 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 341 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 297 81211 4
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Divine Right: The Inglorious Survival of British Royalty 
by Richard Tomlinson.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 316 91119 4
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... other people who shared these views – as many did and do. Take the Duke and Duchess of Windsor: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth knew, Harris writes, that the Duke ‘was irresponsible, insensitive, feckless. He never paused to consider the implications of what he said and did. They put nothing past the mesmeric influence on him of “that ...

Praise Yah

Eliot Weinberger: The Psalms, 24 January 2008

The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 518 pp., £22, October 2007, 978 0 393 06226 7
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... valley of the shadow of death; make a joyful noise; go from strength to strength . . . The 1611 King James Authorised Version of the Book of Psalms – and of course of the entire Bible – is so deep in the English language that we no longer know when we are repeating its phrases. Inextricable from the beliefs and practices of its faithful for four hundred ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller, 9 May 2002

... Modernists such as Picasso begot paper collage, wood assemblage and metal sculpture. ‘I’m king of the ragpickers!’ Picasso proclaimed gleefully around 1930, after he had created Woman in a Garden, his first welded tin and scrap iron sculpture, proof that machines and Tin Can Alley do not ‘rule the world’, as Leopold Bloom laments over noisy ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: Hitchens, 31 March 2011

... I heard a few bars of Chris Corner’s song ‘I Salute You Christopher’ a day or so before the new IAMX album, Volatile Times, was released. The song, which appears on the album, is subtitled ‘Ode to Christopher Hitchens’: I salute you Christopher I salute your life How you played the dice … That ‘played’, in the past tense, has the ring of a funeral bell and a cracked one at that ...

Bad White Men

Christopher Tayler: James Ellroy, 19 July 2001

The Cold Six Thousand 
by James Ellroy.
Century, 672 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 7126 4817 8
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... his name, James Ellroy has left us in no doubt that he wants to be more than a genre writer, embarking on a series of books intended to rewrite the history of America between the late 1950s and the early 1970s, the ‘Underworld USA’ trilogy. The title is a tribute to Sam Fuller, who directed the film of the same name, but the initial impetus came – as ...

Nicky, Willy and George

Christopher Clark: The Tsar, the Kaiser and the King, 22 October 2009

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One 
by Miranda Carter.
Fig Tree, 584 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 670 91556 9
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... on Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany was on the threshold of a war with three great powers. Panicking, he grabbed a recently arrived dispatch from St Petersburg and committed his agonised thoughts to paper in a frenzy of marginal scribbles. England was the author of Germany’s predicament, he scrawled. Over the years, it had gradually tightened a net of ...

It’s alive!

Christopher Tayler: The cult of Godzilla, 3 February 2005

Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters 
by William Tsutsui.
Palgrave, 240 pp., £8.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6474 2
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... the movie, had passed through Hiroshima after the war, and Godzilla, he said, was a way of ‘making radiation visible’. On 1 March 1954, the US tested a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll, showering 7000 square miles of the Pacific with fallout. Along with 28 military personnel and 239 Marshall Islanders, 23 men on a Japanese tuna boat – the Lucky Dragon ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... Stanton.) Most of the novel’s reviewers have acknowledged its excellence. In the New Yorker, Christopher Buckley (himself a suspect) called Primary Colors ‘an absolutely dazzling book, the best political novel in many years’. In Newsweek, Walter Shapiro found it ‘the best aide’s-eye view of politics since Robert Penn Warren’s All the ...

Women

Christopher Ricks, 20 May 1982

My Sister and Myself: The Diaries of J.R. Ackerley 
edited by Francis King.
Hutchinson, 217 pp., £8.95, March 1982, 9780091470203
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... Ackerley and his sister: about that only, since Nancy is granted no independent life. (Francis King does his best to supply her with one in his accommodating introduction.) Given that Ackerley could unquestionably write, his perverse refusal to make real the husband of Nancy, or her son, has to be evidence that it was his own flesh only that he yearned for ...

War and Pax

Claude Rawson, 2 July 1981

War Music. An Account of Books 16 to 19 of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 83 pp., £3.95, May 1981, 0 224 01534 6
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Ode to the Dodo. Poems from 1953 to 1978 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 176 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 224 01892 2
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Under the North Star 
by Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin.
Faber, 47 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 9780571117215
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Ted Hughes: The Unaccommodated Universe 
by Ekbert Faas.
Black Swallow Press, 229 pp., June 1983, 0 87685 459 5
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Myth in the Poetry of Ted Hughes 
by Stuart Hirschberg.
Wolfhound, 239 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 905473 50 7
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Ted Hughes: A Critical Study 
by Terry Gifford and Neil Roberts.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.50, April 1981, 0 571 11701 5
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... Christopher Logue’s War Music is not ‘a translation in the accepted sense’. It’s not clear why, having said this, he should invoke Johnson’s remark that a translation’s merit should be judged by ‘its effect as an English poem’, since Johnson was talking about translations, whereas Logue’s poem is a variety of ‘poetical imitation’ and belongs to a perfectly good tradition of English poems based on or played off against an older (often Classical) original ...

Tales from the Bunker

Christopher Hitchens, 10 October 1991

... The Beirut Golf Club possesses many advantages for the overseas visitor seeking a vigorous nine, or even 18, holes. For one thing, its greens and fairways provide the only remaining enclosed parkland in a city where urban blight is an increasing problem. For another, its caddies are young and competitive and hire themselves out on a basis of keen but friendly rivalry ...

At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... very well since. Kenneth Anger has been this kind of wallflower at the orgy for years. The dragon king of gorgeous Hollywood has him in thrall. His snappy chapter-headings (‘Closely Observed Blondes’, ‘Babylon Boozers’, ‘Hollywood Drugstore’) give a promise that is always kept. A sample from another chapter (‘The Magic of Self-Murder’) conveys ...

The Trouble with HRH

Christopher Hitchens, 5 June 1997

Princess Margaret: A Biography 
by Theo Aronson.
O’Mara, 336 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 1 85479 248 2
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... about china?’ she demanded. I truly did not know whether she meant porcelain or the Middle Kingdom, and was very grateful for whatever rescue eventuated. There she was, I mean to say, going around the place letting in daylight on magic like billy-oh. In those pre-Tampax, pre-Squidgy, pre-bulimic days there was an element of antic subversion ...

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