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Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 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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... 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 series of improvisational novels’) in the form ...

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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... 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 fancies a literally blind date, and she is 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 Nights’ has turned out to be five novels long ...

Hääyöaie?

Don Coles, 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, a novel which, I had heard, concerned the life of Osip Mandelstam ...

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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... wondered, would it look if it didn’t? The logic of this situation suggests that we need more proof and more argument, and more experience of living with doubt, but the over-whelming mass of the interest in the Kennedy assassination over the last 28 years has gone exactly the ...

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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... 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 is also a representative child of her time, who ...

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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... 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 Russia was said to have cost a hundred thousand ...

Character References

Robert Taubman, 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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... Mildred is the one who’s always complaining, Miss Lear writes poems. The reader waits to be told more, starts making lists, picks up clues about relationships. Then it becomes clear that a wider reference is intended: the clues dropped are just like those in an Agatha Christie country house mystery, where both the number of characters under suspicion and ...

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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... I were doing a series of interviews with women writers, and we had heard how Sexton and her friend Maxine Kumin had worked together for years, talking about their poems in long telephone sessions when neither of then could get out of the house. We wanted to ask them about their relationship as housewives, friends and poets, and so it was arranged that they ...

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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... in front of the window. There were six or seven of them. The wolves were quite white, and looked more like foxes or sheep-dogs, for they had big tails like foxes and they had their ears pricked like dogs when they pay attention to something. In great terror, evidently of being eaten up by the wolves, I screamed and woke up. This is the Wolf-Man’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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... of our assumptions about the universality of disapproval of deceit, but what would show our own judgments mistaken? For example, Asian transvestite prostitutes, because of their delicate bone structure and sparse body hair, are often able to keep clients ignorant of their gender throughout and beyond the transaction which brought them together (as many a GI ...

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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... seen many hotels recently: the rich, crowded period hotel in Death in Venice which that film loved more than it loved Venice, Tadzio or death; or the banner-streaming, 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 ...

Two Hares and a Priest

Patricia Beer: Pushkin, 13 May 1999

Pushkin 
by Elizabeth Feinstein.
Weidenfeld, 309 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 297 81826 0
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... Pushkin at the time she started to write hers; the classic biographies were out of print and seldom to be found on the shelves of public libraries although some might well lurk in the stacks. In a good working bibliography she lists what is available in the rest of the world. A considerable proportion comes from the USA, and the rest, largely and ...

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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... Howard Jacobson’s first novel, Coming from Behind, was published last year, and made one think that a new exponent of the comic academic narrative had arrived. Jacobson’s hero, Sefton Goldberg, Jewish and highly suspicious of his Gentile surroundings, is aggressive towards the literature he’s supposed to be teaching, to a degree that makes Leavis seem like a nice auntie ...

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