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Tough Guy

Ian Hamilton: Keith Douglas, 8 February 2001

Keith Douglas: The Letters 
edited by Desmond Graham.
Carcanet, 369 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 1 85754 477 3
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... pretensions in the ray cast by death’), and so did the labours of his assiduous biographer, Desmond Graham, who now brings us this thorough but often rather dull selection of Douglas’s letters. In 1974, the anniversary of Douglas’s death was marked far more lavishly than anyone could have easily predicted thirty years before: there was ...

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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... anguish makes the English landscape seem Inhuman as the jungle, and unreal Its peace. I’m sorry Desmond Graham didn’t include any of these in his recent Poetry of the Second World War, because, uniquely among Gascoyne’s work, they evoke not only his characteristically archetype-ridden Shelleyan psychodrama but that particular historical moment of ...

Heartlessness is not enough

Graham Hough, 21 May 1981

Loitering with Intent 
by Muriel Spark.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £6.50, May 1981, 0 370 30900 6
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Burnt Water 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Margaret Peden.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, January 1981, 0 436 16763 8
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The Leaves on Grey 
by Desmond Hogan.
Picador, 119 pp., £1.50, April 1981, 0 330 26287 4
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Children of Lir 
by Desmond Hogan.
Hamish Hamilton, 136 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 241 10608 7
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Walking naked 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 220 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 333 31304 6
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... has become one of the accepted literary commodities. The shadow of Stephen Dedalus lies heavy on Desmond Hogan’s The Leaves on Grey. It is the story of Sean the narrator and his friend Liam, first as boys in Galway, then, in the central portion of the book, as students in Dublin in the 1950s, and finally, almost as a dutiful afterthought, in Derry in the ...

Trips

Graham Coster, 26 July 1990

In Xanadu: A Quest 
by William Dalrymple.
Collins, 314 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 00 217948 2
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The Gunpowder Gardens 
by Jason Goodwin.
Chatto, 230 pp., £14.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Silk Roads: The Asian Adventures of André and Clara Malraux 
by Axel Madsen.
Tauris, 299 pp., £14.95, April 1990, 1 85043 209 0
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At Home and Abroad 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 332 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Great Plains 
by Ian Frazier.
Faber, 290 pp., £14.99, March 1990, 0 571 14260 5
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... write that: ‘It was a journey that ought not to have been made; it had broken my life in two.’ Graham Greene, surviving a feverish night in the Liberian interior, records a comparable epiphany: ‘I had discovered in myself a passionate interest in living. I had always assumed before, as a matter of course, that death was desirable.’ Between Theroux’s ...

Baby Face

John Bayley, 24 May 1990

William Gerhardie: A Biography 
by Dido Davies.
Oxford, 411 pp., £25, April 1990, 0 19 211794 7
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Memoirs of a Polyglot 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 381 pp., £5.95, April 1990, 0 86072 111 6
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Futility 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 198 pp., £4.95, April 1990, 0 86072 112 4
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God’s Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age 1890-1940 
by William Gerhardie, edited by Michael Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky.
Hogarth, 360 pp., £8.95, April 1990, 0 7012 0887 2
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... and The Polyglots and taste a sort of comprehensive ur-flavour of the inter-war novel, from Graham Greene to Henry Green. And yet his words and sentences, unlike theirs, are never quite in place, never quite add up to a novelist’s ‘world’, the sort that has a good chance of standing outside time. But Gerhardie had an absolutely natural sense of ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson, 20 January 2011

The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
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... poets he must have known that he was asking for trouble. Trouble duly came in the shape of Sir Desmond MacCarthy, who doggedly stood up in the Sunday Times for the quality of Tennyson’s mind, deplored Auden’s account of the great man as ‘very patronising’, then sought to out-patronise him in turn: ‘It reads as if Mr Auden had been feeling while ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... Somerset Maugham’s own failure in organising a network. The spy-master has been degraded by Graham Greene into a shabby down-at-heel anonymous creature who will identify an innocent colleague with the mole he is hunting and kill the wrong man. For him Philby and Co are the modern equivalents of heroic Jesuit priests plotting against Elizabeth. In Le ...

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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... also given an important stimulus by the urgings of Keynes’s iconoclastic friend, the economist Graham Hutton. The fact that the early Statesman had no fixed party abode may have helped its fortunes at least as much as it harmed them. At the start, the Webbs, Shaw, Sharp and most contributors held firmly to the view that the Parliamentary Labour Party had ...

‘Damn right,’ I said

Eliot Weinberger: Bush Meets Foucault, 6 January 2011

Decision Points 
by George W. Bush.
Virgin, 497 pp., £25, November 2010, 978 0 7535 3966 8
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... and devoted acolyte who went to Yale with Bush’s daughter Barbara); a freelance editor, Sean Desmond; the staff at Crown Publishing (who reportedly paid $7 million for the book); a team of a dozen researchers; and scores of ‘trusted friends’. Foucault: ‘What difference does it make who is speaking?’ ‘The mark of the writer is … nothing more ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... envisages England bombed back into the stone age. In The Collapse of Homo Sapiens (1923) Anderson Graham has Britain pulverised by African and Asian bombers whose technological superiority is reviled as the fruit of the deluded British universities that accepted foreign students. The same racist fantasies are displayed in ...

He shoots! He scores!

David Runciman: José Mourinho, 5 January 2006

Mourinho: Anatomy of a Winner 
by Patrick Barclay.
Orion, 210 pp., £14.99, September 2005, 0 7528 7333 4
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... have been to that initial success. Ramsey, Busby, Shankly, Revie, Stein, Clough, Robson, Dalglish, Graham, now Ferguson, and possibly Wenger too: the careers of the great managers, like those of politicians, tend to end in tragedy, or at least in bitter disappointment, as they cling on for too long. Mourinho believes not only that he belongs in that list by ...

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