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Jonathan Coe, 5 December 1991

In Black and White 
by Christopher Stevenson.
New Caxton Press, 32 pp., £1.95
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The Tree of Life 
by Hugh Nissenson.
Carcanet, 159 pp., £6.95, September 1991, 0 85635 874 6
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Cley 
by Carey Harrison.
Heinemann, 181 pp., £13.99, November 1991, 0 434 31368 8
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... a near-infinity of characters, events and incidental detail. Less ambitious, but more subversive, Christopher Stevenson and Hugh Nissenson seek to dismantle the system from within by producing novels which look like something else altogether: a form of experimentation which often has rather puritanical motives behind it – the assumption being either ...

Wacky

Christopher Tayler: Multofiction, 8 January 2004

Set This House in Order 
by Matt Ruff.
Flamingo, 496 pp., £12, October 2003, 0 00 716423 8
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... for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous and independent denizens. So wrote Henry Jekyll in Stevenson’s novel. Unlike 19th-century duality, however, modern multiple personality hasn’t been much dealt with in literary fiction. It has flourished on talk shows, in movies and soaps, but in print its main vehicle has been the dramatic case history or ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... Hunt. A poet found himself in a city of prose. He came from ‘the ploughtail’, said R. L. Stevenson, ‘to an academy of gilt unbelief and artificial letters’. Mr Royle does not neglect Burns’s social embarrassment in Edinburgh, but he goes no further than to indicate frustrated opportunity and ambition. By now Edinburgh was consolidating itself ...

Reading with No Clothes on

Michael Hofmann: Guernsey’s Bard, 24 January 2008

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by G.B. Edwards.
NYRB, 400 pp., £10.99, July 2007, 978 1 59017 233 9
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... was they who secured its posthumous publication, when, after numerous rejections all round London, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, to his enormous credit, acquired it for Hamish Hamilton, who published it, with Fowles’s introduction, in 1981. It grieves me that I wasn’t aware of its publication at the time, because ...

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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... age. In Metroland, one of Barnes’s many frighteningly sensible women points out to the narrator, Christopher Lloyd, that the attraction of the idea of fast-forwarding to a sprightly 65 might have something to do with fearing the responsibilities of adult life – a fear that he eventually overcomes. Jean Serjeant, thanks to a loveless postwar marriage, is ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... At the tail-end of 1892 Robert Louis Stevenson was working on a novel. The book was going well but one thing was bothering him. Serial publication, he felt, might be difficult to secure, since ‘The Justice Clerk’ – it would eventually be published as Weir of Hermiston – was both ‘queer’ and ‘pretty Scotch ...

What are we there for?

Tom Stevenson: The Gulf Bargain, 9 May 2019

AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain 
by David Wearing.
Polity, 275 pp., £15.99, September 2018, 978 1 5095 3203 2
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... would be tipped’. In a piece for the Atlantic a few months after 9/11, Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne explained that Washington ‘assumes responsibility for stabilising the region’ because China, Japan and Europe will be dependent on its resources for the foreseeable future: ‘America wants to discourage those powers from developing the ...

The Wrong Stuff

Christopher Hitchens, 1 April 1983

The Purple Decades 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 396 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 224 02944 4
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... For another, the older and cleverer phrase – limousine liberal – had gone out with Adlai Stevenson and needed a retread. To take up Radical Chic now (excerpted in this volume) and to turn its pages is to undergo a disturbing experience compounded of déjà vu and disappointment. Was there really a time when Park Avenue bled for the American black ...

Lying doggo

Christopher Reid, 14 June 1990

Becoming a poet 
by David Kalstone, edited by Robert Hemenway.
Hogarth, 299 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 7012 0900 3
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... and inspiration. Significantly, the poets got there first; and later it was a younger poet, Anne Stevenson, who wrote the first book about Bishop. One wonders if this helped or hindered the advancement of her reputation where such things are decided. To have been taken up by Jarrell, crying with such operatic hauteur in the wilderness and making no secret of ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: In Washington, 7 February 1991

... day when O’Brien and his Israeli counterpart, Gideon Raphael, watched their mutual friend Adlai Stevenson trudge through a mendacious speech about that same Bay of Pigs. He knew he was lying, they knew he was lying, he knew they knew that he knew. As a consequence, he would sometimes lift his eyes to where they sat, as if in mute appeal for them to realise ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... Briefly during the second act Michael Frayn’s stage-play, Make and Break, transcends its setting, a Frankfurt trade fair, touching on a general gloom. Mrs Rogers is treating Garrard, a goatish sales rep, to the fruits of Buddhism. It is late in the day. Elsewhere assignations are arranged, faces stuffed, drinks swilled. Mrs Rogers’s seducer is impatient of nirvana; besides his hand rests all ready on her knee ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... also sustains a passing bruise in Lord Archer of Sand-well’s entry on Lord Silkin. Sir Melford Stevenson was famous for stiff sentences, but according to Lord Roskill, ‘those who sat in the Court of Appeal in the Seventies might sometimes find in the appeal papers a letter from Stevenson to the court suggesting that he ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll, 1 December 2011

Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... MacBird, the latter’s goading wife, and various noblemen, including the Earl of Warren and Lord Stevenson, the Egg of Head (based, of course, on Earl Warren and Adlai Stevenson, the former Democratic presidential candidate). MacBird! had its origins in the anti-war teach-in movement at Berkeley, but copies began to sell ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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Annunciations 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... are otherwise uninterpretable. If we start presuming that, inter alia, Douglas Dunn, Craig Raine, Christopher Reid, Anne Stevenson, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian and James Fenton are absent because Davie thinks they play no significant part in this history, then what are we to make of the omissions of J.H. Prynne and Roy ...

Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... But some historians were so overwhelmed by Hexter’s brusque knockdown arguments that, as Laura Stevenson O’Connell puts it in this volume, ‘in the years following [Hexter’s] attack on the “myth of the middle class” ’ they dropped the phrase, ‘constructing instead new models of the Tudor social hierarchy that omitted the middle class ...

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