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An Easy Lay

James Davidson: Greek tragedy, 30 September 1999

Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy 
edited by Simon Goldhill and Robin Osborne.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £45, June 1997, 0 521 64247 7
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The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy 
edited by P.E. Easterling.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £14.95, October 1997, 0 521 42351 1
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Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning 
by David Wiles.
Cambridge, 130 pp., £13.95, August 1999, 0 521 66615 5
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... effort much greater than would be required if you had plumped for a Pinter or an Ibsen or a David Hare. When we hear, for instance, that Aeschylus’ rival Phrynichus was particularly noted for his choreographies, or learn from Peter Wilson in Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy that the shawm (aulos) which always accompanied a performance came ...

Celestial Blue

Matthew Coady, 5 July 1984

Sources Close to the Prime Minister: Inside the Hidden World of the News Manipulators 
by Michael Cockerell and David Walker.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £9.95, June 1984, 0 333 34842 7
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... cronies, even older brandies and cigars, has in no sense limited the scope for prime ministerial wiles. Indeed, the advent of television has led those set in authority over us to ever fresh audacities in the presentation of their policies. Modern administrations, moreover, command a bureaucracy schooled in concealing what the participants in the ...

1966 and all that

Michael Stewart, 20 December 1984

The Castle Diaries. Vol. II: 1964-70 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 848 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 297 78374 2
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... times have changed, incidentally: Hattersley bobs up all over the place in these pages, and David Steel gets a couple of footnotes, but Margaret Thatcher, Neil Kinnock, David Owen and Arthur Scargill make no appearance.) Mrs Castle was generally rated a highly effective departmental minister, and from these diaries ...

Exceptionally Wonderful Book

John Sutherland, 6 October 1994

Knowledge of Angels 
by Jill Paton Walsh.
Green Bay in association with Colt, 268 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 948845 05 8
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... the case that Walsh enjoys the services of one of the more established literary agents in London, David Higham Associates. The publicity studiously does not mention that Walsh has written other books. The implication is that Knowledge of Angels is a work like Joan Brady’s A Theory of War, which came from nowhere in 1993 to win the Whitbread Prize ...

Sergeant Farthing

D.A.N. Jones, 17 October 1985

A Maggot 
by John Fowles.
Cape, 460 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02806 5
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The Romances of John Fowles 
by Simon Loveday.
Macmillan, 164 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 333 31518 9
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... is better informed about the fake soldier, ‘Sergeant Farthing’, claiming that his real name is David Jones and that he is a Welshman loosely attached to the London theatre. As for ‘Mr Bartholomew’, the actor says he believes him to be something of a philosopher, with a dissident and free-thinking bias, a certain mathematical or numerological expertise ...

Shoe-Contemplative

David Bromwich: Hazlitt, 18 June 1998

The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 382 pp., £22.50, June 1998, 0 571 17421 3
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... and how he keeps coming back. T.S. Eliot said he was guilty of ‘crimes against taste’. David Lodge made him a twee subject of nostalgic research for the English hero of Small World, Philip Swallow, hopelessly outgunned by the vulgar but irresistible American, Morris Zapp. Lodge had got his significant detail wrong – Swallow should be a scholar of ...

Ivy’s Feelings

Gabriele Annan, 1 March 1984

The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov 
by John Carswell.
Faber, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1983, 0 571 13135 2
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... to fit her for the marriage market by teaching her the middle-class gentilities and feminine wiles she herself practised with pleasure and aplomb: Ivy refused to stoop to such trivial hypocrisies. When she was 17 her mother made her have all her teeth out: this seems an act of inexplicable brutality, but Carswell thinks it was done for reasons of ...

Squeamish

Peter Clarke: Lloyd George versus Haig, 3 April 2003

Lloyd George: War Leader 
by John Grigg.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, October 2002, 9780713993431
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... favourite from the start and duly emerged as the winner. But he did not win by a short head from David Lloyd George. You have to scour the list to find him in 79th place, listed as ‘English, born Manchester (1858-1928)’. The part about Manchester is correct: Lloyd George’s father – who was not the only Welsh schoolteacher to move there – died there ...

Let’s get the hell out of here

Patrick Parrinder, 29 September 1988

The Satanic Verses 
by Salman Rushdie.
Viking, 547 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 670 82537 9
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The Lost Father 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 277 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3220 5
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Nice Work 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 277 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 436 25667 3
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... has reconstructed is only a ‘family romance’, an operetta played out on her own toy stage. And David Lodge’s heroine complains that she is ‘getting dragged into a classic realist text, full of causality and morality. How can I get out of it?’ Trust the contemporary novelist for that, we might think – though, for Lodge’s characters, it’s a close ...

McNed

Gillian Darley: Lutyens, 17 April 2003

The Architect and His Wife: A Life of Edwin Lutyens 
by Jane Ridley.
Chatto, 524 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 7201 0
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Edwin Lutyens, Country Houses: From the Archives of ‘Country Life’ 
by Gavin Stamp.
Aurum, 192 pp., £35, May 2001, 1 85410 763 1
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Lutyens Abroad 
edited by Andrew Hopkins and Gavin Stamp.
British School at Rome, 260 pp., £34.95, March 2002, 0 904152 37 5
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... Emily Lytton’s first experiences with men had not been propitious. Aged 18, she fell for the wiles of the ‘53-year-old married philanderer’ Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, until her obsession with him was replaced by friendship with his odd daughter Judith. Hardly recovered, she met Gerald Duckworth, Virginia Woolf’s nemesis, but it was for marriage to ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’, 6 August 2009

Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... Before it was a classic film, Gone with the Wind was a classic PR stunt. The film’s producer, David O. Selznick, announced that he would launch a nationwide search for the young woman who would play Scarlett O’Hara. The move provoked a furore; Margaret Mitchell’s novel, published in 1936, was already a national bestseller – it seemed that everyone was reading it – and the desire to star in the movie version proved irresistible ...

Anglo-Egyptian Attitudes

Marina Warner, 5 January 2017

... Protectorate running the country from the wings. ‘The Daughter of Admiral Walker’ (after David Wilkie) There were many prints of Egypt in our Zamalek flat – picturesque views of the ruins and the pyramids and Old Cairo, from series that had been published in the previous century – and they fascinated me: drowned temples, dhows like drawn bows on ...

Diary

Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... We were to discuss: (1) the value of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel (this was Camp David time), (2) peace between Israel and the Arab world generally, and (3) the rather more fundamental question of future coexistence between Israel and the surrounding Arab world. None of the Arabs seemed happy with this. I felt it leapfrogged over the matter ...

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