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Diary

Karl Miller: Ten Years of the LRB

26 October 1989
... happens, this is a time when we keep hearing, as often as not from the opinionated, that it is wrong to be ‘judgmental’. Reviewers are paid to be judgmental, and few are more judgmental than D.J.Taylor. Writing in the Independent during the present run-up to the Booker Prize award, he asks: ‘Where, in any international literary framework, is the British writer who matters?’ Not one, he suggests ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder

18 November 1993
The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... decade to decade. Questions of aesthetic value are routinely bypassed. Of the two critics under review, Malcolm Bradbury is a self-conscious progressive, but he writes the old kind of history. D.J.Taylor is a self-conscious reactionary whose book is a rather strange example of the new kind. Taylor’s belief, set out bluntly in his introduction, is that no modern English writer can ‘hold a candle ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray

20 January 2000
Thackeray 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... first came out. I have used it over the years and find it very perceptive. It was also the first biographical study to integrate a wealth of Thackeray illustration into its text, something that D.J.Taylor also does effectively. Taylor’s book represents a third generation of biography. His judgment on Thackeray is generous, but much less inclusive than Ray’s. The basis of Taylor’s admiration is ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor

18 February 2016
The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... D.J.Taylor​ is the most charitable of critics. However absurd, third-rate or pretentious the authors he examines, he can always find something to say in their favour. In this latest study, he even puts in a ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’

9 December 2019
Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... Rather​ D.J.Taylor than me, when it comes to untangling the unbelievably complicated and messy love lives of the so-called Horizon circle: the people who clustered adoringly around Cyril Connolly during his years as ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery

3 November 2016
... good-natured assumption that everyone is a snob about something and to that extent we are all ridiculous. The bookseller was a snob about snobbery and thought it was vulgar to talk about class. D.J.Taylor is perhaps a literary snob for Cooper gets no mention in his much less enjoyable The New Book of Snobs: A Definitive Guide to Modern Snobbery (Little, Brown, £16.99). His first mistake is to attempt ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell

19 June 2003
George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... socialism. As if all that were not enough, he thought Henry Miller was an outstanding novelist. As judicious (though not hopelessly balanced) accounts, the new biographies by Gordon Bowker and D.J.Taylor confirm what the law of averages might have led one to suspect: some of this is true, some of it questionable and the rest of it false. (Scott Lucas, by contrast, thinks almost all of it true ...

Diary

Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows

7 October 1993
... of B.S. Johnson’s work, though I gather he’s big in the US thesis market. Yet the ICA devoted three evenings in September to his achievements as writer and film-maker. Surprisingly, D.J.Taylor doesn’t even mention him in his new survey of post-war fiction. In the late Fifties and after, Kingsley Amis, Johns Wain and Braine, Alan Sillitoe and Co struck a new, demotic note. The ...

Diary

Gillian Darley: John Evelyn and his gardens

8 June 2006
... grandson) supplied trees for some of the most elegant landscapes designed in early Georgian England. In Evelyn’s own day, young trees were more usually shipped from Holland. I come from what D.J.Taylor has called the ‘pavement-pounding’ school of biography, perhaps particularly because buildings and landscape have been my preoccupation for so long. When I was researching my biography of John ...

I say, damn it, where are the beds?

David Trotter: Orwell’s Nose and Prose

16 February 2017
Orwell’s Nose: A Pathological Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Reaktion, 256 pp., £15, August 2016, 978 1 78023 648 3
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Or Orwell: Writing and Democratic Socialism 
by Alex Woloch.
Harvard, 378 pp., £35.95, January 2016, 978 0 674 28248 3
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... conclusion he draws concerns the cavalier attitude Orwell routinely displayed towards his own health, or lack of it. This recklessness has attracted the attention of previous biographers. D.J.Taylor sees in it a ‘detachment from physical sensation’ that can sometimes appear ‘faintly inhuman’. Sutherland’s suspicions are darker still. Virtually everything Orwell did in life, he notes ...

My Wife

Jonathan Coe

21 December 1989
Soho Square II 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 287 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 7475 0506 3
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... rather than novelists who were best placed to monitor the evolutions and coinages which keep language alive. There is still something to be said for this view, and I was reminded of it by D.J.Taylor’s snooty mimicry of textbook journalese in ‘On The Strip’, which purports to describe life on Sunset Strip, Hollywood Boulevard (‘a clotted heatscape of a place, a serpentine coil of stores ...

For the duration

John McManners

16 June 1983
The Oxford Book of Death 
edited by D.J.​ Enright.
Oxford, 351 pp., £9.50, April 1983, 0 19 214129 5
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Idéologies et Mentalités 
by Michel Vovelle.
Maspéro, 264 pp., £7.15, May 1982, 2 7071 1289 5
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... Palgrave’s Golden Treasury when I was a schoolboy. Now I am alongside Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe and Dostoevsky. As a cleric of the established Church, I am ranking high. St Augustine, Bede, Jeremy Taylor, Parson Woodforde and Kierkegaard get only one mention each (and strictly speaking, the gloomy Dane was a frondeur on the fringes of establishment piety and ought not to count). Bossuet, Bunyan and ...

Second Chances

Donald Davie

22 July 1993
Collected Poems 
by Patricia Beer.
Carcanet, 216 pp., £18.95, July 1990, 9780856357886
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Friend of Heraclitus 
by Patricia Beer.
Carcanet, 59 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 026 3
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... can’t be identified with Patricia Beer, but only with the supposedly anonymous author of ‘Poem Found in a Modern Church’. This persona says: I long for John Donne, Lancelot Andrewes and Jeremy Taylor To preach, telling me without consultation Something I did not realise I ought to know. Very proper, once again. But why are these sentiments not subscribed: ‘Patricia Beer’? Why instead do we ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... out my research grant with pupils from Exeter and Magdalen, where I was appointed a lowly junior lecturer and thus a member of Magdalen senior common room. It was a daunting community, with A.J.P. Taylor, Gilbert Ryle and C.S. Lewis regularly met with on high table. I didn’t have much small talk but what was the point as one seldom got a word in with Taylor and had I had anything to chat to Ryle ...

Phut-Phut

James Wood: The ‘TLS’

27 June 2002
Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... ever. In this postwar environment, the TLS began to present a new kind of writing, one of stiffened scholarship and greater rigour. This was the era of Pevsner, Namier, E.H. Carr, D.W. Brogan, A.J.P. Taylor, Anthony Blunt and Noel Annan, all regular reviewers for the TLS (though the old, cosy TLS reappeared in 1946 when Russell’s History of Western Philosophy was sent to J.B. Hawkins, the vicar of ...

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