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Yawning and Screaming

John Bayley, 5 February 1987

Jane Austen 
by Tony Tanner.
Macmillan, 291 pp., £20, November 1986, 0 333 32317 3
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... maintained’. The implication is that a real picture of the author, like the one on the front of David Cecil’s study, would not do justice to the image that Tanner has formed of her, the geist that he requires. If we have Mrs Abington in place of Jane Austen, why not a Stendhal heroine instead of Elizabeth Bennet, so that ‘by showing the different ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... all others. It was founded in Oxford by Edward Lean, the younger brother of the film director David Lean, and was dedicated to the reading and discussion of creative work in progress. When Lean graduated, Lewis took it over. The group was for men only. (Dorothy L. Sayers, a keen Christian and an admirer of Lewis, was excluded.) At first, meetings were ...

Crypto-Republican

Simon Adams: Was Mary Queen of Scots a Murderer?, 11 June 2009

Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by Stephen Alford.
Yale, 412 pp., £25, May 2008, 978 0 300 11896 4
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... William Cecil, First Baron Burghley, served Elizabeth I for nearly forty years, as principal secretary and lord treasurer, and left an enormous body of papers. His correspondence, now dispersed in four major and a number of minor collections, dominates the political history of Elizabeth’s reign. Even more important, in some respects, are the unique series of memoranda written in his distinctive, neat and spidery hand ...

Secret Services

Robert Cecil, 4 April 1985

The Soviet Union and Terrorism 
by Roberta Goren.
Allen and Unwin, 232 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 04 327073 5
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The Great Purges 
by Isaac Deutscher and David King.
Blackwell, 176 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 631 13923 0
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SOE: The Special Operations Executive 1940-46 
by M.R.D. Foot.
BBC, 280 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 563 20193 2
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A History of the SAS Regiment 
by John Strawson.
Secker, 292 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 436 49992 4
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... on an unprecedented scale is vividly illustrated in The Great Purges, which contains some of David King’s collection of contemporary photographs, together with a commentary by Isaac Deutscher: ‘In presenting these scenes, I had to reconstruct a nightmare.’ We must hope that, for a majority or Russians, their dreams have become pleasanter: but we do ...

No Man’s Mistress

Stephen Koss, 5 July 1984

Margot: A Life of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith 
by Daphne Bennett.
Gollancz, 442 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 575 03279 0
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... say or do’. That tendency was heightened with the passing years of adversity until, as Lord David Cecil concluded, she betrayed an ‘inability to distinguish between reality and fancy’. Her immediate impressions of people were sometimes alarmingly acute, but her impressions of events were more often faulty and never more so than when she ...

Keeping up with Jane Austen

Marilyn Butler, 6 May 1982

An Unsuitable Attachment 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £6.95, February 1982, 0 333 32654 7
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... Certainly they have so far been more gallant and vociferous than women in championing her. Lord David Cecil, John Bayley and Philip Larkin have paid her tribute as a superb observer of comic detail, and as the delineator of a world, the Anglican parish, which has a Betjemanesque charm. The article which can perhaps claim to have ...

At Miss Whitehead’s

Edward Said, 7 July 1994

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... what you get instead are telegraphic put-downs of the man, his Oxbridge associates like C.P. Snow, David Cecil and Stuart Hampshire, and that whole way of life. Twenty or so lines of that, and then you move on to something else; a page later, Berlin is back again, though this time Wilson comments on the tremendous range of his conversation, and poor Harry ...

Shockers

Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... Moore about sketching people in London air-raid shelters. Facts, though, aren’t everything, as David Cecil argued early in 1941, in an article lamenting the propagandist pressures being brought to bear on artists. Prisoners of war were commended for escaping, he pointed out. Why shouldn’t writers be escapists, too? This was itself a shocking thing ...

Sorry to go on like this

Ian Hamilton: Kingsley Amis, 1 June 2000

The Letters of Kingsley Amis 
edited by Zachary Leader.
HarperCollins, 1208 pp., £24.99, May 2000, 0 00 257095 5
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... was inventively foul-mouthed, he hated Middle English, and he was quite good at impersonating David Cecil, or Cess-hole (though not so good as Amis, at whose relentless mimicries Larkin usually guffawed). Larkin also drank a lot – beer, mostly – and merciless derision appeared to be his social forte. He was indeed the sort of chap who knew ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... Wilhelm Müller or that Arcadia is a play by Tom Stoppard. Patric Dickinson, Felicity Ashbee and David Cecil are among the dozens of names who pass by unnoted and still more are missing from the index. How Fitzgerald came to know Stevie Smith and when it was that T.S. Eliot told her that the staircase from the Poetry Bookshop featured in ‘Ash ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb, 19 May 2005

Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... forged a letter to get a portrait of Byron from his publisher John Murray. In her history, Lord David Cecil wrote, ‘side-by-side run always two stories, what happened to Caroline and what she pretended had happened.’ With her there was, too, a wider than usual gulf between precepts and practice. She told Murray that the only rules necessary for a ...

Jane Austen’s Latest

Marilyn Butler, 21 May 1981

Jane Austen’s ‘Sir Charles Grandison’ 
edited by Brian Southam.
Oxford, 150 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 19 812637 9
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... as to maximise its literary importance. All Southam’s principal deductions are supported by Lord David Cecil, in a foreword written with that critic’s customary charm, his inimitable blend of middlebrow thoughts in upper-class tones. Though he cavils gently at Jane Austen’s taste for Grandison (‘I cannot help sympathising a little with Miss ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites, 12 September 2013

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... post 13 years earlier. He died, aged 82, only six months after I glimpsed him. On the cover of David Ellis’s Memoirs of a Leavisite he is photographed standing with a tree and a bench behind him in (according to the jacket info) the very garden into which he escaped that autumn afternoon. He is wearing the same literary-critical uniform too: the baggy ...

On a par with Nixon

Stephen Alford: Bad Queen Bess?, 17 November 2016

Bad Queen Bess? Libels, Secret Histories, and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I 
by Peter Lake.
Oxford, 497 pp., £35, January 2016, 978 0 19 875399 5
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Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years 
by John Guy.
Viking, 494 pp., £25, May 2016, 978 0 670 92225 3
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... prince, has been slipping. The woman modern scholarship gives us has been neatly summed up by David Cannadine: ‘A workaday regnant queen, shorn of her glitter and her gold, her glamour and her greatness, with a false face, a disturbed psyche, a heart of stone, a barren womb and feet of clay; and as such a woman trying to do a man’s job, but not always ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... with a chairman who accused me of being a disciple of Sorel, a writer of whom I had barely heard. (David Caute sardonically notes that ‘the allusion to Sorel was standard nonsense among professors of history and politics hostile to the New Left: one may search in vain for any favourable reference to Sorel in New Left ideology.’) I had also been National ...

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