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Two Sharp Teeth

Philip Ball: Dracula Studies, 25 October 2018

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ 
by David J. Skal.
Norton, 672 pp., £15.99, October 2017, 978 1 63149 386 7
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The Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ 
edited by Roger Luckhurst.
Cambridge, 219 pp., £17.99, November 2017, 978 1 316 60708 4
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The Vampire: A New History 
by Nick Groom.
Yale, 287 pp., £16.99, October 2018, 978 0 300 23223 3
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... commonplace had found a champion who could wear its colours with all the ceremony of greatness.’ David Skal’s new biography of Stoker follows his 2004 study, Hollywood Gothic, which managed to take Dracula on page, stage and screen seriously, but not too seriously. It becomes clear reading the Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ how difficult it is to ...

Flying Mud

Patrick Parrinder, 8 April 1993

The Invisible Man: The Life and Liberties of H.G. Wells 
by Michael Coren.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 7475 1158 6
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... his supporters warned, was the ‘rapid multiplication of the unfit’. Progressives like Havelock Ellis, Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb were swayed by these arguments, at least for a time; and Ellis (while condemning the Nazis’ racism and anti-semitism) defended Hitler’s ideas on compulsory sterilisation as late as ...

’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... properly illustrating some aspects of the author’s moody, rambling text. Alice Thomas Ellis, a Roman Catholic novelist, was brought up in Penmaenmawr, between Conwy and Bangor on the North Wales coast, facing the island of Anglesey. In one of her moods, she is inclined towards elegy for the ruined stone cottages and commination for all ‘housing ...

Strangeways Here We Come

Dave Haslam: Ecstasy, 23 January 2003

The Promised Land: Travels in Search of the Perfect E 
by Decca Aitkenhead.
Fourth Estate, 206 pp., £12.99, January 2002, 1 84115 337 0
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... guitar solos, one legacy of the dance music revolution is the feeble commercialism of Sophie Ellis Bextor. Nevertheless, some changes have been permanent. Rave culture opened the door for digital music, and also paved the way for superstar DJs like Fatboy Slim and Paul Oakenfold. In Britain there’s no doubt that Ecstasy – cooler and cheaper than ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... school where ‘free love might play its part,’ but she disliked sex, and read it up in Havelock Ellis so as to be match-fit for her (second) wedding night. They both yearned for a world relatively free from capitalist competition: but they drew their millions from capitalist sources, and at one stage kept 6,000 battery hens on the estate. They hated ...

Leur Pays

David Kennedy: Race, immigration and democracy in America, 22 February 2001

Making Americans: Immigration, Race and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy 
by Desmond King.
Harvard, 388 pp., £29.95, June 2000, 0 674 00088 9
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... by discriminating against the new immigrant groups who had teemed through Castle Garden and Ellis Island in the preceding generation. The terms of the 1924 statute allocated some 70 per cent of visas to the second-wave countries of Britain, Ireland and Germany, while Italy, Poland and the Soviet Union – the major nurseries of the third wave’s new ...

Doomed to Sincerity

Germaine Greer: Rochester as New Man, 16 September 1999

The Works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Harold Love.
Oxford, 712 pp., £95, April 1999, 0 19 818367 4
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... Sodom has had a disproportionately lively publishing career in both manuscript and print. Frank Ellis, one of the distinguished editors of the invaluable Yale Poems on Affairs of State, who prepared the current Penguin edition of Rochester, cannot bring himself even to mention Sodom, let alone to explain his reasons for excluding it from his edition. Paddy ...

Schools of History

Walter Laqueur, 26 September 1991

Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives 
by Alan Bullock.
HarperCollins, 1187 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 00 215494 3
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Stalin: Breaker of Nations 
by Robert Conquest.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £18.99, September 1991, 0 297 81194 0
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... if controversial’, although, as I see it, justice could be done to them only by a writer like David Lodge or Malcolm Bradbury. It seems evident to me that their work is for the most part based on a very small element of truth whose significance is inflated out of all proportion, that facts buttressing the case are carefully selected, and all the evidence ...

Roman Fever

Sarah Perry, 26 September 2019

Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire 
by Jessica Howell.
Cambridge, 238 pp., £75, October 2018, 978 1 108 48468 8
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... David Soren​ of the University of Arizona was excavating the remains of a villa just outside Lugnano in Umbria in 1992 when he uncovered a fifth-century mass grave: 47 small skeletons had been interred in layers, some pressed into large amphorae. A number of them were newborn babies. The deepest layer held only a corpse or two, but the higher levels were increasingly populated ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... have drawn on their authors’ lives; Jane Eyre, subtitled ‘An Autobiography’, is one example, David Copperfield another. The Brontës tried to conceal their identities behind the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, and the consequences were, first, that their works were scrutinised for evidence of their gender ...

Showers of Hats

Robert Baird: ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’, 30 March 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, March 2017, 978 1 4088 7174 4
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... satire and sentiment’. The shape of that sentiment became increasingly clear. In a eulogy for David Foster Wallace, who killed himself in 2008, Saunders explained his friend’s accomplishment in terms that made it hard not to imagine he was also describing his own aspirations: ‘Something about the prose itself was inducing a special variety of openness ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... It would be interesting to place Jay McInerney and David Holbrook as neighbours at E.M. Forster’s imaginary table. Both novelists are fascinated by decadence – that much they have in common. But their diagnoses and anatomies of the decadent condition are quite different; worlds apart, to use Holbrook’s dominant image ...

Gaelic Communist

Graham Walker, 12 October 1989

James Connolly: A Political Biography 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 244 pp., £9.95, October 1989, 0 7190 2958 9
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James Connolly: Selected Writings 
edited by P. Beresford Ellis.
Pluto, 256 pp., £8.95, April 1988, 9780745302676
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... Ireland were changing and the working class’s position weakening. Recent historical work such as David Howell’s treatment of Connolly in his A Lost Left (1986) has drawn attention to the defects in Connolly’s interpretation of the Gaelic past. Austen Morgan’s book represents the most incisive demonstration to date of the extent to which his ...

Jackson breaks the ice

Andrew Forge, 4 April 1991

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... and the fact of the canvas. He could draw in the air, omnipotently. ‘Empty of imagery,’ David Anfam writes in a beautiful description of the drip paintings, ‘they feel intensely full; lacking overt reference to nature, the organic patterns of growth nevertheless engulf us; rather monochromatic overall, strong and metallic hues shimmer through ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... gratifying that people die while watching it, round and round for ever, in an endless loop. David Foster Wallace always had trouble finishing his novels. And yet he put in this one a thought so absorbing and delightful that you could easily imagine yourself, like the rat in the experiment, pressing the lever over and over. ‘Thousands of times an ...

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