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2 October 1997
Cyril ConnollyA Life 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 653 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 224 03710 2
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... CyrilConnolly is famous now, and was famous in his lifetime, for not having written a masterpiece. A peculiar sort of fame: after all, many thousands of literary persons share the same distinction. Connolly, though, made a career out of insisting that his failure had a special poignancy, a poignancy which we should all attend to. Others fail at literature because they don’t have the necessary talent ...
23 March 1995
Cyril ConnollyA Nostalgic Life 
by Clive Fisher.
Macmillan, 304 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 333 57813 9
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... His friends used to say that CyrilConnolly had been sent into the world for one purpose: to be talked about. He was an object of fascination to everyone who knew him. It was not exactly that he was a legend, or that there was anything ...

Young Marvin

Frank Kermode

24 January 1991
A Tenured Professor 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 197 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 1 85619 018 8
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Shade those laurels 
by Cyril Connolly and Peter Levi.
Bellew, 174 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 0 947792 37 6
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... and, even more important, Washington respond to Marvin, is the remainder of the story. There is some genial padding, and the whole thing is good fun, stylishly written and altogether civilised. CyrilConnolly is famous for having wanted to be the author of a totally civilised stylish masterpiece. In all the circumstances such a production would have to be a novel, a genre for which his gifts do ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks

18 August 1983
Cyril ConnollyJournal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... Unlike the publication in 1975 of the touching acute letters of CyrilConnolly to Noel Blakiston, the publication of Connolly’s Journal (1928-1937) does not serve him, except right. He found D.H. Lawrence insufficiently magnanimous (‘Notice how carefully Lawrence refuses to recognise virtue in anyone but himself ...

Quarrelling

Mary-Kay Wilmers

29 October 1987
Tears before Bedtime 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12326 7
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In the Pink 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Bloomsbury, 164 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0050 9
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... You must explain to me why Cyril wants Barbara,’ Evelyn Waugh wrote to Ann Fleming in September 1955, a year after Barbara Skelton’s marriage to CyrilConnolly had formally ended. ‘It’s not as though she were rich or a good housekeeper or the mother of his children.’ The following year Edmund Wilson asked Connolly, now two years into his divorce, why ...
17 July 1980
The Wanton Chase 
by Peter Quennell.
Collins, 192 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 00 216526 0
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... into the London literary scene which he has long adorned. The second volume of his memoirs opens in 1939, with the author, not uncharacteristically, on a French holiday with a girlfriend and CyrilConnolly, in the course of which Mr Quennell and his nameless companion were stoned in a small provincial town for their immodesty. It was to be the last such excursion for many years, the onset of war soon ...

Cockaigne

Frank Kermode

24 October 1991
Orwell: The Authorised Biography 
by Michael Shelden.
Heinemann, 563 pp., £18.50, October 1991, 0 434 69517 3
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... than the methodical amassing of well-researched facts, a sensitive biographer is also needed. We are to infer that this person is now at hand. Shelden did a satisfactory job in his first book, about CyrilConnolly and Horizon, but Orwell is an altogether more substantial, and more difficult, subject. Biographers of ordinary competence, if allowed to quote, cannot hope to avoid the contrast between the ...
6 February 1997
The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... as you say.’ On a later occasion, tidying up his letters in a drawer, she muses: ‘I must ask Randolph [Churchill] how much he will give me for them.’ Literary jackals abound. Waugh warns that CyrilConnolly is ‘up to something rather fishy in collecting letters, I think for sale in America. Be wary! There is a nice nest egg for us all in our senility in our correspondence. American ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... read when he was six, had helped to found Granta and furiously defended the Liberal cause at the Punch table. John himself had been at Eton with Alan Pryce-Jones, Anthony Powell, Eric Blair and CyrilConnolly, who, we are told, stood at the door of his room in the Sixth Form Passage asking, ‘Well, Johnny Lehmann, how are you this afternoon?’ While he was at Trinity his sister Rosamond ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: An Unexpected Experience

6 December 1984
... right. Now he has sunk without trace. The interest of his diary lies in the other figures mentioned in it even though some of them have become as obscure as Maclaren-Ross himself. Chief of them is CyrilConnolly, once the centre of what was called Bohemia. I wonder whether anyone still remembers him. Cyril wrote The Rock Pool, a novel highly praised: but I doubt whether a conscientious historian ...
4 March 1982
Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... In a letter to CyrilConnolly in 1948 Evelyn Waugh listed the ideas that had been in his mind when he was at work on The Loved One: immediately after ‘over-excitement with the scene at Forest Lawn’ came ‘The Anglo-American ...

Beau Beverley

George Melly

27 June 1991
Beverley Nichols 
by Bryan Connon.
Constable, 320 pp., £20, March 1991, 0 09 470570 4
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... Bristol, his alcoholism, his wife’s expiatory acceptance, and Beverley’s hysterical venom. It was not because John was his father that he hated him with such a passion, but because he wasn’t. CyrilConnolly, who also suffered from an alcoholic father, admitted in his Sunday Times review to being engrossed by Father Figure. ‘Homicidal ruthlessness,’ he wrote, ‘must be added to my estimate ...

Seriously ugly

Gabriele Annan

11 January 1990
Weep no more 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 166 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 241 12200 7
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... and-the-beast complex, but it exists. A penchant for Stroheim is a symptom of it, and among the many men in Skelton’s life, the three who got it into a serious muddle were all seriously ugly: CyrilConnolly, her first husband; George Weidenfeld, her second; and her last recorded lover, the French writer Bernard Frank. There is no photograph of her third husband, the millionaire Derek Jackson ...

Dogface

Ian Hamilton

28 September 1989
Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 330 pp., £15, September 1989, 0 19 503797 9
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War like a Wasp: The Lost Decade of the Forties 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 241 12531 6
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... war was insanity. If this is what Fussell means by ‘real’ writing about war, we might expect him to have little time for home-front ironists like Henry Reed or look-the-other-way aesthetes like CyrilConnolly or Osbert Sitwell. As it turns out, and this is a paradox that runs throughout the book, his hostility to America’s ‘unironic’ temper, to its earnestness and sentimentality, is of such ...

Drab Divans

Miranda Seymour: Julian Maclaren-Ross

24 July 2003
Fear & Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross 
by Paul Willetts.
Dewi Lewis, 403 pp., £14.99, March 2003, 1 899235 69 8
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... In October 1964, BBC2 put out a programme about literary life in Britain during the Second World War; the contributors included John Betjeman and CyrilConnolly. The show was stolen, however, by a figure in a voluminous overcoat and dark glasses, whose recollections were delivered slowly, deadpan, between puffs on a large cigar. A month later, at the age of ...

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