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The British Disease

Peter Jenkins, 21 August 1980

Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience 1964-79 
by Denis Barnes and Eileen Reid.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 435 83045 7
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... raised their eyebrows, as if this was the way of the industrialised world. Wasn’t everybody? Sir Denis Barnes spent his entire civil service life (apart from one brief early interlude) at what was the Ministry of Labour and is now the Department of Employment. He rose from being Ernest Bevin’s private secretary to Permanent Under-Secretary. He ...


Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... the text of the man, not of his art. As the writer and war correspondent William Walton said to Denis Brian, ‘a man who has spent all his life inventing fiction keeps on inventing it in his private life.’ The reaction started with the publication of Death in the Afternoon in 1932, the hero of which, as Kenneth Lynn cogently expresses it, is not ‘a ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my contemporaries’), George Herbert, Vaughan, Crabbe, Hopkins, Whitman, Campion, Morris, Christina Rossetti, John Crowe Ransom, Wyndham Lewis, Louis ...
... No one could read Sir Denis Barnes’s book, Governments and Trade Unions,* without a sense of deep depression. He himself foresees that a ‘continuation of the existing relationship between governments and the trade-union movement … could have unpredictable political consequences’. So could a discontinuity! Mr Harold Macmillan is fond of recounting how kings, barons, soldiers, landowners, industrialists and bankers have all in time been diminished by our institutions, and he speculates that trade-union leaders will go the same way ...


Denis Donoghue: Karlin’s collection of Victorian verse, 4 June 1998

The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Danny Karlin.
Allen Lane, 851 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780713990492
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... Rossetti, Arnold, Hopkins, Hardy and Yeats. There are suggestive affiliations, as between Barnes and Hopkins, but no single narrative has explanatory power. A study of the emergence of modern poetry would need at least six lines of affiliation, by my count. More, if we included the American poets. Karlin’s anthology would belie its title, but it ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Admirer

Ian Aitken, 21 November 1991

Time to declare 
by David Owen.
Joseph, 822 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 7181 3514 8
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... Denis Healey, a politician who long ago established that the hobnailed boot can be wielded with just as much delicacy and skill as the épée, once said of David Owen that the Good Fairy who attended his birth had generously bestowed upon him the three qualities of charm, intelligence and good looks. He is then reported to have added: ‘What a pity that the Bad Fairy made him a shit ...

At the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Julian Barnes: The Shchukin Collection , 19 January 2017

... by Marquet, four by Carrière, three by Marie Laurencin (from her best period), four by Maurice Denis (who doubtless looked the most avant-garde of the Nabis, and is now on his way back up), three by Forain, and two by Puvis de Chavannes (has anyone’s reputation fallen further in the last hundred years?). There are also two by Signac and one by Cross ...

Father! Father! Burning Bright

Alan Bennett, 9 December 1999

... you both despise me.’ ‘Listen.’ She brought him away from the door and closed it. Mrs Barnes next door, who had once described their marriage as uninhibited, was putting out a few opportune clothes. ‘Your father is 74. He is dying. Considering the time you’ve been hanging about here he is possibly already dead yet you resent the fact that he ...

The Necessary Talent

Julian Barnes: The Morisot Sisters, 12 September 2019

Berthe Morisot 
Musée d’Orsay (until 22 September)Show More
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... Monet, Pissarro, Degas, and even non-Impressionists like Puvis, Léon Bonnat, Sargent and Maurice Denis – recognised Morisot’s quality and treated her as an equal. Durand-Ruel, the pioneering dealer who (a century before Saatchi) batch-bought rising artists, took four of her pictures in 1872. Even the critics paid her the compliment of condemning her ...

A City of Sand and Puddles

Julian Barnes: Paris, 22 April 2010

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 476 pp., £18.99, April 2010, 978 0 330 45244 1
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The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps 
by Eric Hazan, translated by David Fernbach.
Verso, 384 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84467 411 4
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... most deprived part of Paris.’ Hazan, like Robb, spares a few sentences for the church of Saint-Denis-de-la-Chapelle, ‘buried in a cape of sick concrete’; then mentions a brief non-adventure of André Breton’s in the area. But even here he finds a ‘hidden charm’ in the little Chinese quarter, the ‘welcoming cafés on rue l’Olive’, and the ...

An Address to the Nation

Clive James, 17 December 1981

... and of all its farce, And think of all those books gone down the drain By Amis, Amis, Bainbridge, Barnes, Bragg, Braine ... But artists of all kinds can be excused For cherishing a stratified society. Their privilege, which exists to be abused, Is to lay hold of life in its variety. Granted they do it well, we are amused And readily forgive the note of piety ...

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