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Never the twain

Mark Amory, 4 March 1982

Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... first read aloud from The Napoleon of Notting Hill, which was exchanged for The Wisdom of Father Brown at the same time that the quotation from the latter about ‘a twitch on the thread’ was inserted. These are scraps. There are more considerable changes, which make you wish Professor Davis had written a different book. For instance, Anthony ...

Man is the pie

Jenny Turner: Alasdair Gray, 21 February 2013

Every Short Story 1951-2012 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 933 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 85786 560 1
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... agent sent down by a higher authority to save the world’. The name of the hero was to be Boreas Brown. Gray worked on this novel, off and on, for the next three decades, Boreas Brown turning into Obbly-Pobbly, Obbly-Pobbly into Gowan Cumbernauld. From Whitehill he went to Glasgow School of Art, then worked reluctantly as ...

Sickness and Salvation

Sylvia Lawson, 31 August 1989

Aids and its Metaphors 
by Susan Sontag.
Allen Lane, 95 pp., £9.95, March 1989, 0 7139 9025 2
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The Whole Truth: The Myth of Alternative Health 
by Rosalind Coward.
Faber, 216 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 14114 5
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... multi-author collection Aids: The Burden of History, edited by Elizabeth Fee and Daniel M. Fox; Dennis Altman’s Aids and the New Puritanism. To the extent that Sontag’s essay links with those discussions and with the pleas you can read every week in liberal newspapers and journals – pleas against moralism and bigotry, pleas for correctly-targeted ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... to offer their kind of political rationalism, being composed largely of stolidly unintellectual, brown-booted trade-union hacks. As the PLP itself became more varied after 1918, the paper’s attitude grew more nuanced, though it continued to lambast the emblematic representative of early labourism at its most mediocre and conservative, the former ...

Monstrous Offspring

Freya Johnston: The Rabbit-Breeder’s Hoax, 8 October 2020

The Imposteress Rabbit Breeder: Mary Toft and 18th-Century England 
by Karen Harvey.
Oxford, 211 pp., £16.99, January, 978 0 19 873488 8
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... of the few occasions when we seem to hear her voice, she describes feeling ‘as if very coarse brown Paper was tearing from within her’.The crudest, funniest and most effective of the many Toft satires, the anonymous Much Ado about Nothing: or, The Rabbit-Woman’s Confession, ridiculed her illiteracy and promiscuity in an exposé ‘in her own Stile and ...

My Castaway This Week

Miranda Carter: Desert Island Dreams, 9 June 2022

... William Trevor ruminating unshowily on the job of writing; the just pre-Pennies from Heaven Dennis Potter remembering his Forest of Dean childhood; and Charlotte Rampling, very solemn, on the death of her sister and making The Night Porter – Plomley managing to avoid any mention of what it was actually about. (In case you’ve forgotten, the S&M ...

Dream Ticket

Peter Shore, 6 October 1983

The Diary of Hugh Gaitskell 1945-1956 
by Philip Williams.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, September 1983, 0 224 01911 2
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... the officials in the Treasury and gave warnings against AB, WE and NBG. I spoke up strongly for Dennis (Proctor) and proposed that he should try and get John Maude.’ Indeed, so strong was Gaitskell’s recent Civil Service experience that, after attending another Dalton dinner for new MPs on 30 July 1945, he wrote, not a diary entry, but a minute – a ...

My Missus

John Sutherland, 13 May 1993

Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 
by Joseph McAleer.
Oxford, 284 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 820329 2
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American Star: A Love Story 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 568 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 434 14093 7
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... Mills & Boon to greatness were the tuppenny libraries in the Thirties (for which they supplied brown-jacketed hardbacks) and the cheap, bookstore-racked paperback in the post-Sixties period. Of the two, the first is associated with Mills & Boon’s golden age. In its recent paperback form the identity of the firm has been diluted by multinational ...

Institutions

Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... and Thatcher have less to go on, and are more vulnerable to the prejudices of their readers. Dennis Kavanagh is nicer about the Heath Government than I find plausible; the Seventies syndrome of absurdly over-optimistic promises followed by continuous industrial strife was started by Heath’s famous promise to reduce prices at a stroke; and the ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Establishment President, 13 May 2010

... governor of Virginia; on 19 January, a Republican who describes himself as independent, Scott Brown, won Ted Kennedy’s senate seat in Massachusetts. The scale of these victories made them particularly ominous. McDonnell took 59 per cent of the votes and Brown 52 per cent, in states where Obama a year earlier had ...

You haven’t got your sister pregnant, have you?

Jacqueline Rose and Sam Frears: No Secrets in Albert Square, 23 June 2022

... a fight and is thrown out of the Queen Vic, the pub at the heart of the series, by the landlord, Dennis Watts (later to become famous as ‘Dirty Den’), who looks down appalled at the blood on his white shirt. Cotton will turn out to be an arch-villain, one of the first killers living on the square. A phone call to Dr Legg from the hospital reveals that ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 2 June 2016

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... 2013, when Prynne could be seen fleetingly on Celebrity Masterchef being served wood pigeon by Les Dennis, might be regarded as a serendipitous objective correlative for this phenomenon.) Appreciation, on the other hand, remains as tricky as ever. The easiest criticism of Prynne’s work has always been that it doesn’t make sense. Many accounts of his work ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie, 5 April 2012

Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... stripped-down funk – no lush horn section or chorus of backing singers – so tight that James Brown lifted Alomar’s riff. Bowie was moving on from Young Americans even before he’d finished making it. One reason for his restlessness, extreme even by his standards, had come in New York at the end of July, when he learned the real nature of his financial ...

Anatomy of a Constitutional Coup

Bruce Ackerman: The 2000 US Election, 8 February 2001

... achieve unanimity, or something close to it, before rushing to the centre of the political stage. Brown v. Board of Education, as well as Marbury v. Madison, was unanimous, and even Roe v. Wade was initially decided by a vote of seven to two. But the Court awarded the Presidency to Bush by a five to four vote, with the dissenters filing bitter public ...

Clubs of Quidnuncs

John Mullan, 17 February 2000

The Dunciad in Four Books 
by Alexander Pope, edited by Valerie Rumbold.
Longman, 456 pp., £55, August 1999, 0 582 08924 7
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... as footnotes to the poem. (They are thickest among the writings of Pope’s lifelong enemy, John Dennis: ‘high voiced and never enough quoted’, as Pope has him.) And once the poem had first appeared to settle those stored-up scores, it would duly produce a further flurry of attacks and more material for Pope’s collection, more material for more ...

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