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Denying Dolores

Michael Mason, 11 October 1990

Children’s Sexual Encounters with Adults 
by C.K. Li, D.J. West and T.P. Woodhouse.
Duckworth, 343 pp., £39.95, July 1990, 0 7156 2290 0
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Child Pornography: An Investigation 
by Tim Tate.
Methuen, 319 pp., £14.99, July 1990, 0 413 61540 5
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... in our society. It falls into two quite separate sections: the first part, written by Professor West and Mr Woodhouse, reports research into adult males’ recollections of their juvenile sexual encounters with grown-ups, of both sexes, and the second part, by Dr Li, which is more ambitious and novel, centres on a series of interviews with 20 male ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Ten Years of the LRB, 26 October 1989

... 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, can stand comparison with Marquez, Kundera, Tom ...

The Land of Serendipity

D.J. Enright, 23 September 1993

The True Paradise 
by Gamini Salgado.
Carcanet, 192 pp., £14.95, May 1993, 1 85754 007 7
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... to be cracked. ‘So you want to fill the boy’s noddle with a lot of heathen rubbish about God and Jesus and crucifixions?’ Gamini’s grandfather would roar, hearing that his son, the author’s future father, proposed to study English at night school, but without making much effort to prevent this disaster. The Buddhist children envied the passion plays ...

Labouring

Blake Morrison, 1 April 1982

Continuous 
by Tony Harrison.
Rex Collings, £3.95, November 1982, 0 86036 159 4
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The Oresteia 
by Aeschylus, translated by Tony Harrison.
Rex Collings, 120 pp., £3.50, November 1981, 0 86036 178 0
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US Martial 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, £75, November 1981, 0 906427 29 0
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A Kumquat for John Keats 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, £75, November 1981, 0 906427 31 2
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... once wrote memorably about a backstreet in Hull – but he, it turns out, is Scottish. And D.J. Enright’s vivid account of a working-class childhood, The Terrible Shears, is really more prose documentary than poem. Remarkably, in an age that was supposed to see the flourishing of working-class writing, Harrison seems to have the field to himself. One ...

Tribal Lays

D.J. Enright, 7 May 1981

The Hill Station 
by J.G. Farrell.
Weidenfeld, 238 pp., £6.50, April 1981, 0 297 77922 2
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... rhonchus, amphoric resonance, metallic tinkling, that ominous clicking and bubbling which McNab had just heard, pectoriloquy (the sound of the patient’s voice heard through the stethoscope) and, though rarely, the distinct sound of fluid in motion on succussion (the shaking of the patient’s thorax)... ’ As we know, tuberculosis was a killer, of the kind ...

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 2019, 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 editor of the short-lived literary magazine (1939-50). Was Connolly still carrying on his affair with Diana Witherby when he started his affair with Lys (while still married to Jean and while Lys was still married to Ian)? Was Barbara Skelton having an affair with the Polish war artist Feliks Topolski when Peter Quennell came onto the scene, still married to his third wife, Glur, but making Topolski so jealous that the men resorted to fisticuffs over Barbara? What made Janetta, still married to Hugh Slater, fall in love with Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, and would that relationship last?Taylor wades deep into the cigaretty fug of that small literary circle awash with till-boredom-do-us-part love affairs conducted in rented accommodation ...

How to Kowtow

D.J. Enright: The thoughts of China, 29 July 1999

The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds 
by Jonathan Spence.
Penguin, 279 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7139 9313 8
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... and retain the attention of others. This capacity has been evident from the very beginnings of the West’s encounter with China; the passing centuries have never managed to obliterate it altogether, even though vagaries of fashion and shifting political stances have at times dulled the sheen.’ In The Chan’s Great Continent Jonathan Spence reflects on 48 ...

Diary

Gillian Darley: John Evelyn and his gardens, 8 June 2006

... Surrey is the Country of my Birth and my delight,’ John Evelyn told John Aubrey; and like Surrey, Evelyn has had more than his fair share of bad press over the years. Yet to picture him as simply the pious sermoniser the Victorians eulogised is as misleading as to write off Surrey as wall-to-wall Weybridge. The gouged-out lanes which thread through and over the thickly wooded Surrey hills around his birthplace, Wotton, are really just tarmac versions of the tracks on which generation after generation of Evelyns travelled around their land, from Wotton itself to Abinger, Friday Street and on ...

On the horse Parsnip

John Bayley, 8 February 1990

Boris Pasternak: The Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... only true heir of the revolution. At the end of his life, in ‘A New Year’s Message’ to his Western readers, he said that we must thank Russia and the Revolution for a new concept of life. ‘However great the difference between us, our revolution set the tone for you as well: it filled the present century with meaning and content ... It’s us you have ...

California Noir

Michael Rogin: Destroying Los Angeles, 19 August 1999

Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster 
by Mike Davis.
Picador, 484 pp., £18.99, June 1999, 9780330372190
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... in the recurrent fascination with Los Angeles apocalypse which begins well before Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust (1939), extends through the Aryan racist tract The Turner Diaries (1978, the bible of the Oklahoma City Federal Office bomber, Timothy McVeigh), and which has managed to keep Ecology of Fear itself on bestseller lists in Los Angeles ...

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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... quite different from a reputation made in Hull and the North-East, or Liverpool and the North-West. (And this isn’t even to touch on the highly profitable pool of Irish poets, the less profitable Scots and Anglo-Welsh, the Caribbean, the Asian.) The canny publisher, thinking of roundabouts making up for loss-making swings, will devise a list where, if a ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... soliloquising in Sandy Bell’s, a favourite pub near Edinburgh University. Was he one of the ‘lowest of men’, spilling whisky and sliding off his stool as he launched into another ballad? Or was he a seer, defying body and convention to ‘soar like an eagle’ in the way of the blessed inebriate in Richard Thompson’s song ‘God Loves a ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... then I was helped by some of the actors in my first play, Forty Years On, which was running in the West End. One of the actors was George Fenton, who is doing the music for the film, and another was Keith McNally, the proprietor of Balthazar.15 January. The police officer who shot Mark Duggan is to be returned to firearms duty just as was the officer who shot ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey, 4 March 2004

Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... fathers, and, more violently, how much they loved the heavily lipglossed singer in a band called Japan. David Sylvian was his name. The girls called him David. So far as I remember, the diary was a pretty spectacular fantasia of adolescent lusts and local hatreds: Dear Katherine, David came and took me out of my bed last night and we went for a long walk ...

Kipling and Modernism

Craig Raine, 6 August 1992

... and it would be ruined by padding or elaboration. However, it is too subtle to be a straightforward joke taking up two lines. So it is awarded the poetic treatment – capital letters and rhymes. In fact, it would make a respectable prose poem, did we not have the mistaken conviction that the prose poem should have a heightened quality of ...

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