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Wounds

Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

Hemingway 
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 ...

Twins in Space

Mark Harris, 11 December 1997

Albert Einstein 
by Albrecht Fölsing, translated by Ewald Osers.
Viking, 882 pp., £25, August 1997, 0 670 85545 6
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Einstein: A Life 
by Denis Brian.
Wiley, 509 pp., £11.99, October 1997, 0 471 19362 3
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... to Schrödinger’s cat, within the remit of Bohr’s understanding of quantum mechanics. Denis Brian is intent on portraying Einstein as the archetypal absent-minded professor, and gives a lot of space to his political and pacifist pronouncements, while dealing brutally with his major discoveries. Fölsing is more balanced, recognising that the ...

Keeping Left

Edmund Dell, 2 October 1980

The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... Security and the Treasury were getting rather cool, she commented: ‘We were frankly puzzled: Brian, David and I all said we got on like a house on fire with Denis Healey and Joel Barnett, even if Edmund was a more difficult customer.’ Denis Healey was forced to make too many ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore, 10 August 2000

Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... In the second chapter of Brian Moore’s first novel The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Miss Hearne gets to know her fellow boarders, especially the landlady’s brother, the returned Yank, Mr Madden. They discuss the difference between men and women in Ireland and America. ‘Guys beating their brains out to keep their wives in mink,’ Mr Madden complains ...

Simile World

Denis Feeney: Virgil’s Progress, 4 January 2007

Virgil: Georgics 
translated by Peter Fallon, with notes by Elaine Fantham.
Oxford, 109 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 0 19 280679 3
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Penguin, 486 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 7139 9968 3
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... home to me as I was reading Fagles’s Aeneid for this review, when I saw a fine production of Brian Friel’s play Translations at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. The Royal Engineers arrive in County Donegal in 1833 to map the country and to rename its places in the process. The setting is a hedge school, whose master, Hugh O’Donnell, has spent his ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... Others have written autobiographies. All are full of evidence of the impotence of office. Even Denis Healey in his recent popular autobiography admits that the notorious ‘IMF cuts’ in 1976 were probably based on a false prospectus presented to him by international bankers who knew they were deceiving him. But in all these cases the former Secretaries ...

Green War

Patricia Craig, 19 February 1987

Poetry in the Wars 
by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 264 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 906427 74 6
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We Irish: The Selected Essays of Denis Donoghue 
Harvester, 275 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7108 1011 3Show More
The Battle of The Books 
by W.J. McCormack.
Lilliput, 94 pp., £3.95, October 1986, 0 946640 13 0
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The Twilight of Ascendancy 
by Mark Bence-Jones.
Constable, 327 pp., £14.95, January 1987, 0 09 465490 5
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl 
edited by John Quinn.
Methuen, 144 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 413 14350 3
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... and savage’) to certain terms bandied about today: ‘terrorist’, ‘bomber’. Brian Friel, another of the ‘Field Day’ directors, does something similar in his play, Translations, which isn’t only about the act of translating place-names from Irish to English, but also ‘translates’ a typical British battalion in the Belfast or ...

Gloriosus

E.S. Turner, 4 September 1986

Monty: The Field-Marshal 1944-1976 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 996 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 241 11838 7
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... Monty also was shown a typescript. He described it as ‘an amazing work’ and wrote to (Sir) Denis Hamilton, editorial director of Kemsleys: ‘My recommendation is that you have nothing to do with the book, and do not buy it for any newspapers in the Kemsley Group. It will do the author no good.’ It was, of course, Correlli Barnett’s The Desert ...

Haig-bashing

Michael Howard, 25 April 1991

Haig’s Command: A Reassessment 
by Denis Winter.
Viking, 362 pp., £18.99, February 1991, 0 670 80255 7
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... found some support among the new school of ‘War and Society’ historians such as Professor Brian Bond and the present writer, who argued that Haig’s faults were those of the old Army as a whole, and that the problems he faced had baffled European commanders with far greater experience than himself. Nevertheless the popular image remained that ...

Lessons for Civil Servants

David Marquand, 21 August 1980

The Secret Constitution 
by Brian Sedgemore.
Hodder, 256 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 340 24649 9
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The Civil Servants 
by Peter Kellner and Lord Crowther-Hunt.
Macdonald/Jane’s, 352 pp., £9.95, July 1980, 0 354 04487 7
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... as misses, and both focus attention on one of the central problems of modern British politics. Brian Sedgemore’s is by far the sillier and more dangerous of the two, but it is also more entertaining and politically the more significant. Mr Sedgemore was Labour MP for Luton in the last Parliament, when he was probably the most intelligent member of the ...

Sans Sunflowers

David Solkin, 7 July 1994

Nineteenth-Century Art: A Critical History 
by Stephen Eisenman, Thomas Crow, Brian Lukacher, Linda Nochlin and Frances Pohl.
Thames and Hudson, 376 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 500 23675 5
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... avant-garde: ‘An art history which sees Chassériau, Moreau, Gérome, Rodin, Puvis and Maurice Denis as marginal episodes, rather than the most vivid representatives of a vigorous, enduring tradition – that art history will not do.’ For Eisenman, however, it does do – although classicism may have done more to shape his own views than he would care to ...

Do, Not, Love, Make, Beds

David Wheatley: Irish literary magazines, 3 June 2004

Irish Literary Magazines: An Outline History and Descriptive Bibliography 
Irish Academic, 318 pp., £35, January 2003, 0 7165 2751 0Show More
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... one issue. Deprived of an outlet, the holy trinity of 1930s poetic Modernism, Thomas MacGreevy, Brian Coffey and Denis Devlin, took their wares abroad, or went into hibernation (virtually giving up poetry, MacGreevy ended up writing for the Capuchin Annual). Clyde’s book is full of references to crestfallen and ...

Not Enjoying Herself

Jenny Diski: Princess Margaret, 16 August 2007

Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled 
by Tim Heald.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 297 84820 2
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... according to Tim Heald, her latest biographer, who has previously committed to paper the lives of Brian Johnston,2 Denis Compton,3 Barbara Cartland4 and Prince Philip,5like the other four biographical subjects she was also a household word in her day. This had nothing to do with hard work and natural ability – as, I would ...

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat

David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... of whisky and ginger ale, ‘but she was never drunk,’ and she did not get through as much as Denis, who could more or less subsist on gin. She didn’t have hangovers and she didn’t get ill (she sometimes had toothache). Her skin continued to glow and her eye remained fierce. More striking than the amount of sleep she needed was her ability to sleep at ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... the three ‘internationalist’ poets singled out by Samuel Beckett – Thomas MacGreevey, Denis Devlin and Brian Coffey – all stuttered to a standstill in mid-career: MacGreevey turned away from poetry altogether; Devlin never published another collection after Lough Derg and Other Poems (1946), though his best ...

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