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19 October 1995
Bret Harte: Selected Stories and Sketches 
by David Wyatt.
Oxford, 332 pp., £5.99, February 1995, 9780192823540
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... His subsequent career is a seemingly irreversible decline into neglect and oblivion: according to David Wyatt he no longer makes even a token appearance in standard anthologies of American literature. Mark Twain’s reputation, of course, has rarely been higher. Back in 1866, however, Twain declared: ‘Though I am generally placed at the head of my ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford

12 May 1994
The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... character in Apocalypse Now mournfully observes; but one sometimes wonders. In Out of the Sixties David Wyatt argues that Vietnam remains ‘the defining thing, our war, our story’, and he compares it to an iceberg, ‘a mostly submerged history that cruises through our dreams’. Oddly though, he in the end makes very few connections between the work ...

Afternoonishness

Jeremy Harding: Syd Barrett

2 January 2003
Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s Lost Genius 
by Tim Willis.
Short Books, 175 pp., £12.99, October 2002, 1 904095 24 0
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... Barrett, who died of cancer in 1961 – Barrett was nearly 16. (There was Roger Waters, too, and David Gilmour – who’d replace Barrett within moments, almost, of the band’s success. Both were Cambridge boys. Both, Willis tells us, had messed around with paint pots in a late-toddler phase in the same Saturday morning art club as Barrett at Homerton ...
10 May 1990
Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal 
by Tom Mayer.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £32.50, April 1989, 0 521 36104 4
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Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 317 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 631 13566 9
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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Portraits at the Court of Henry VIII 
by Retha Warnicke.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 521 37000 0
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English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 448 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 300 04180 2
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... is the imaginative literature of the age of John Skelton and Thomas More, and then of Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey: literature which he believes to have been gravely undervalued, and which he commends not only for its intrinsic pleasures but as a rich historical source. What the most sophisticated contemporary writers thought about the reign of ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism

22 June 2006
The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... were also important to the history of Tudor literature: John Heywood, Sir Thomas Elyot, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, ‘writers who in one way or another tried to come to terms with the experience of writing under a despotic monarch’. Walker’s strength is that he understands and engages intimately with the culture of a generation schooled in the ...

Cod on Ice

Andy Beckett: The BBC

10 July 2003
Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride And Paranoia 
by Richard Lindley.
Politico’s, 404 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 1 902301 80 3
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The Harder Path: The Autobiography 
by John Birt.
Time Warner, 532 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 316 86019 0
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... BBC’s usual conventions of ‘impartial’ news reporting – and treated like stars. Woodrow Wyatt was the first. When he was hired in 1955, he had already been a successful print journalist and a Labour junior minister, and had an opinion of himself to match. To look at, he was well-fed rather than youthful and dashing, but the architects of Panorama ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper

22 March 2012
Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... warrant none, is actually a bit of a relief played against Fonda’s beatific and self-righteous Wyatt (think Earp), a.k.a. Captain America. But Billy’s meanness and scariness are startling. It’s possible to argue that it’s what redeems the otherwise self-indulgent film. Billy and Wyatt were never going to change the ...

Dangerous Play

Mike Selvey

23 May 1985
Gubby Allen: Man of Cricket 
by E.W. Swanton.
Hutchinson, 311 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 09 159780 3
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Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack: 1985 
edited by John Woodcock.
Wisden, 1280 pp., £11.95, April 1985, 0 947766 00 6
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... where he lapsed into a state of knee-knocking shock. Another Englishman, the Lancastrian David Lloyd, was hit a terrifying blow in the groin by Jeff Thomson. The following summer, I too hit him in the same region. I saw him later, ice packs clasped to his nether regions, and asked after his health. ‘After Thommo it were a pleasure,’ he ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self

5 February 2004
Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... well as their heirs, such as T. Coraghessan Boyle, Lydia Davis, Rick Moody, William Vollmann and David Foster Wallace. None of these writers – however popular or influential, however frequently their writing appeared in the Paris Review or Conjunctions or the year-end Best American and Pushcart anthologies – managed to stir him. The ‘tone of mandarin ...

Don’t like it? You don’t have to play

Wyatt Mason: David Foster Wallace

18 November 2004
Oblivion: Stories 
by David Foster Wallace.
Abacus, 329 pp., £12, July 2004, 0 349 11810 8
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... words were generated by the celebrated youngish American novelist, journalist and story-writer David Foster Wallace. Although willing to tilt at shiny targets of grammatical contention (the ending of sentences with prepositions etc), Wallace was, for the most part, hunting bigger game: America is in the midst of a protracted Crisis of Authority in matters ...

Lunch

Jon Halliday

2 June 1983
In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... up with attempts to win them over. Early on in his tenure, Radji lunches with a helpful figure, David Spanier, the Diplomatic Correspondent of the Times. Spanier tells him that there are only ‘about fifteen to twenty people who are the opinion-makers in the British press and suggests I establish regular dialogues with them. And he warns against attempts ...

La Bolaing

Patrick Collinson: Anne Boleyn

18 November 2004
The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn 
by Eric Ives.
Blackwell, 458 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 631 23479 9
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... much Protestant appraisal was muted and cautious: ‘a very wilful woman,’ according to George Wyatt, full of ‘devilish devices’; her life was ‘shameful to rehearse’, William Thomas said, defending the reputation of his recently deceased sovereign Henry VIII to an Italian audience. The story of Anne Boleyn is one which serious historians have tried ...
17 February 2011
Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon and Schuster, 438 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84737 798 2
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... in Jesus Lane, Cambridge. Behind an impressively classical façade, designed by Matthew Digby Wyatt, was a labyrinth of hot and cold rooms, and swimming pools, vaguely reflecting the layout and practice of an ancient Roman bath. Local worthies had invested considerable sums of money in the venture, in return for free entry. Others were to be admitted for ...

House of Miscegenation

Gilberto Perez: Westerns

18 November 2010
Hollywood Westerns and American Myth 
by Robert Pippin.
Yale, 198 pp., £25, May 2010, 978 0 300 14577 9
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... they are still very much of the common people. Stagecoach was the director’s own project. David Selznick wouldn’t take it on as producer because he saw it as ‘just another Western’ with no big stars, and Walter Wanger, the eventual producer, would have wanted Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in the leads. But Ford insisted on Claire Trevor and ...

Absolutely Bleedin’ Obvious

Ian Sansom: Will Self

6 July 2006
The Book of Dave 
by Will Self.
Viking, 496 pp., £17.99, June 2006, 0 670 91443 6
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... and translations of the Book of Psalms, the original book of Dave – supposedly written by King David, the Neim Z’mirot Yisrael (‘the sweet singer of Israel’) – ‘substantially shaped the culture of 16th and 17th-century England, resulting in creative forms as diverse as singing psalters, metrical psalm paraphrases, sophisticated poetic ...

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