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19 July 1984
Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... to an audience already familiar with many of the masks, half-knowing what to expect of them, and the maskers seem to improvise witty or pathetic dialogue, according to an agreed storyline. D.M.Thomas remarks that he is indebted to Germaine Greer for supplying him with information about the tradition of the improvisatrici in Italy: he has constructed Swallow (‘the second,’ he says, ‘in a ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland

16 August 1990
Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... Lying together marks the end (one hopes) of a sequence of novels D.M.Thomas began in 1983 with Ararat. Now called in its entirety ‘Russian Nights’, the sequence has been a fluid thing. At various points Thomas projected a trilogy and a quartet. In the event, ‘Russian ...

Pushkin’s Pupil

Christopher Driver

1 April 1983
Ararat 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 191 pp., £6.95, February 1983, 0 575 03247 2
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... Elizabeth Bowen and Vicki Baum can a novelist have looked so readily for resonance in the name and function of hotels. After his world-beating Freudian serve with The White Hotel here is D.M.Thomas again, standing on the baseline at the start of his new novel in yet another hotel setting. The Soviet poet, Rozanov, is sharing his bed with a blind woman whom he has arranged to meet because he ...
5 June 1986
Sphinx 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 248 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 575 03611 7
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... I must declare an interest in this particular Thomas. Dylan, R.S., above all the heart-inscribed Edward – these I admire, respect, claim. D.M. I have had little luck with. Our relationship began with the publication some years ago of The Flute Player ...
3 December 1981
... pattern whereby all but the greatest poets write their best work before the age of forty; the novelistic genius, on the other hand, tends to ripen with experience – to accumulate slowly. D.M.Thomas was told at the age of 25 by his ex-tutor John Bayley that he would be a late developer. The truth of Bayley’s remark has been demonstrated by the switch Thomas has made, in his forties, from ...

There’s Daddy

Michael Wood

13 February 1992
Flying in to Love 
by D.M. Thomas.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 7475 1129 2
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JFK 
directed by Oliver Stone.
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... sense of shock: whatever the truth of Kennedy’s promises and policies, he caught and matched a need for hope in Americans and in others, and much of that hope died with him. There is, as D.M.Thomas’s novel suggests, continuing disbelief – it can’t have happened, it is a bad dream or a mere movie, reality will pick up and go on again. There is the mythological investment in the Kennedys as ...

Casualty Reports

Robert Taubman

5 February 1981
The White Hotel 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 240 pp., £6.95, January 1981, 0 575 02889 0
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Riddley Walker 
by Russell Hoban.
Cape, 220 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01851 5
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The Last Crime 
by John Domatilla.
Heinemann, 155 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 434 20090 5
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... instinct, but that he intended his paper on the case, along with the patient’s pornographic writings, to be published in honour of the Goethe centenary in 1932. There are improbable moments in D.M.Thomas’s novel, but on the whole it shows tact and respect towards Freud. And The White Hotel isn’t only a case-history. Its heroine, Lisa Erdman, is more than the ‘Anna G.’ of Freud’s paper: she ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter

7 November 1991
Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... Plath. Wherever she went there were flings and affairs, behaviour expected of course from male poets on the circuit, but scandalous when the poet was a woman. ‘Wow! I’ve kissed Sexton,’ D.M.Thomas recalled thinking of his brief encounter. More shocking than the lists of Sexton’s adulteries or Dr Orne’s release of her therapeutic tapes is the revelation that she had a long affair with her ...
15 May 1980
The Echo Chamber 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Harvester, 154 pp., £6.50, March 1980, 0 85527 807 2
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Birthstone 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 160 pp., £6.50, March 1980, 0 575 02762 2
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Kingdom Come 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Secker, 352 pp., £6.50, March 1980, 0 436 06714 5
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A Gentle Occupation 
by Dirk Bogarde.
Chatto, 360 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7011 2505 5
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Innocent Blood 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 276 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 571 11566 7
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... Yvonne dear,’ his Aunt said, ‘won’t you do the introduction?’ ‘This is Nancy,’ Yvonne said. ‘This is Andy. This is Mildred. This is George. This is Isabella. This is Steve. This is Miss Lear. This is Remus and this is Caterina.’ She paused. ‘This is Peter,’ she said. Everybody laughed. One of the children threw a ball into the air and someone said something that sounded ...

Last Word

Michael Ignatieff

3 February 1983
The Wolf-Man: Sixty Years Later 
by Karin Obholzer, translated by Michael Shaw.
Routledge, 250 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 7100 9354 3
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Ernest Jones: Freud’s Alter Ego 
by Vincent Brome.
Caliban, 250 pp., £12.50, January 1983, 0 904573 57 5
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... dream. What else they were, what else they became when they ceased lying on that couch, beneath Ingres’s Oedipus and the Sphinx, deep in the folds of the talking cure, Freud does not tell us. D.M.Thomas knew what we wanted to know and tried to give it to us. The White Hotel invents a fate for one of them, but the invention does not satisfy that part of us which wants the truth, which wants to know ...

New Mortality

John Harvey

5 November 1981
The Hotel New Hampshire 
by John Irving.
Cape, 401 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 224 01961 9
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The Villa Golitsyn 
by Piers Paul Read.
Secker, 193 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 436 40968 2
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Funeral Games 
by Mary Renault.
Murray, 257 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 7195 3883 1
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The Cupboard 
by Rose Tremain.
Macdonald, 251 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 03 540476 0
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... nostalgically remembered hotel in Fellini’s Amarcord; or J.G. Farrell’s hero committed to reviving the antiquated Hotel Majestic in Troubles; or, most notably now, The White Hotel of D.M.Thomas. The White Hotel, with its collocations of Freud and holocaust, looms large behind The Hotel New Hampshire, which has among its characters a Viennese Jew called Freud (Irving has some of Magritte’s ...

Porky-Talky

Frank Cioffi

22 September 1994
A Pack of Lies: Towards a Sociology of Lying 
by J.A. Barnes.
Cambridge, 200 pp., £35, June 1994, 0 521 45376 3
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... denied that he had ever credited the famous primal scene in which he was supposed to have watched his parents having intercourse doggie fashion, and to which Freud traced his manifold symptoms, D.M.Thomas concluded: ‘though it may well not have been true it is beautiful: which means it has a different, deeper, kind of truth.’ The problems of collusion and self-deception set by phenomena like these ...

Wild Horses

Claude Rawson

1 April 1983
‘The Bronze Horseman’ and Other Poems 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by D.M. Thomas.
Penguin, 261 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 14 042309 5
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Alexander Pushkin: A Critical Study 
by A.D.P. Briggs.
Croom Helm, 257 pp., £14.95, November 1982, 0 7099 0688 9
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‘Choiseul and Talleyrand’: A Historical Novella and Other Poems, with New Verse Translations of Alexander Pushkin 
by Charles Johnston.
Bodley Head, 88 pp., £5.25, July 1982, 0 370 30924 3
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Mozart and Salieri: The Little Tragedies 
by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Antony Wood.
Angel, 94 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 946162 02 6
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I have come to greet you 
by Afanasy Fet, translated by James Greene.
Angel, 71 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 946162 03 4
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Uncollected Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 81 pp., £4.95, September 1982, 0 7195 3969 2
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Travelling without a Valid Ticket 
by Howard Sergeant.
Rivelin, 14 pp., £1, May 1982, 0 904524 39 6
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... that symbol of Russia’s Westernisation which Francesco Algarotti called her window on Europe (Pushkin cited Algarotti in a note: Pushkin’s various notes are not fully reproduced in D.M.Thomas’s new translation, nor in Sir Charles Johnston’s of 1981). But ambiguity has always surrounded the statue, along with its imperial subject. The city which stood for a modernised and liberalised ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter

15 November 1984
Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... if the outside they were set in was somehow also metaphorical, that’s to say was really the inside of something else.’ So it’s rather a blow to Barney to discover he’s a reincarnation of Thomas Hardy. The discovery comes about at a séance organised by Sharon in her bookshop, where, under the influence of a hypnotist, Barney finds himself recounting, in the first person, Hardy’s memory of ...

Nicely! Nicely!

Jenny Turner

13 May 1993
Operation Shylock 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 398 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 224 03009 4
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... Roth’s publicity in writing about this book before publication, Roth in the flesh and several of Roth’s friends have verified it. Thus, as often happens with US fiction (remember the rumours that Thomas Pynchon was really J.D. Salinger under another name?), attention is deflected away from the substantive matter of the novel, and onto various gee-whizz discussions of supposedly Post-Modernist ...

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