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Human Wishes

Irvin Ehrenpreis, 20 December 1984

Samuel Johnson 
by Walter Jackson Bate.
Hogarth, 646 pp., £6.95, July 1984, 0 7012 0562 8
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A Preliminary Handlist of Copies of Books Associated with Dr Samuel Johnson 
by J.D. Fleeman.
Oxford Bibliographical Society, 101 pp., £5, March 1984, 0 901420 41 7
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Samuel Johnson 1709-84: A Bicentenary Exhibition 
edited by K.K. Yung.
Arts Council/Herbert Press, 144 pp., £9.95, July 1984, 9780906969458
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Samuel Johnson 
by Donald Greene.
Oxford, 872 pp., £15, June 1984, 9780192541796
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... use, the most valuable publication serving Johnson during the bicentennial year is certainly Donald Greene’s volume for the new Oxford Authors. Together with the splendid book in the same series devoted to Swift (edited by David Woolley and Angus Ross), this work floats easily above all rivals. The choice of contents is fresh and ...

Golden Boy

Denis Donoghue, 22 December 1983

W.H.Auden: The Critical Heritage 
edited by John Haffenden.
Routledge, 535 pp., £19.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9350 0
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Auden: A Carnival of Intellect 
by Edward Callan.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 19 503168 7
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Drawn from the Life: A Memoir 
by Robert Medley.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 571 13043 7
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... Stephen Spender, Geoffrey Grigson, Michael Roberts, Bonamy Dobrée, John Hayward and Graham Greene had nominated Auden as the new voice. The six odes and the epilogue of The Orators, Greene said, justified Auden’s ‘being named in the same breath as Lawrence’. But Greene had ...

Misbehavin’

Susannah Clapp, 23 July 1987

A Life with Alan: The Diary of A.J.P. Taylor’s Wife, Eva, from 1978 to 1985 
by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 241 12118 3
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The Painted Banquet: My Life and Loves 
by Jocelyn Rickards.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 297 79119 2
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The Beaverbrook Girl 
by Janet Aitken Kidd.
Collins, 240 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 00 217602 5
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... features as a shy Cold Warrior with a Communist Party friend and as a ‘round-faced Graham Greene figure’, closely studied by Alec Guinness when he was preparing to become George Smiley; he ‘could never make close ties with people’. Guy Burgess was ‘always dirty and smelt’. This diary is also a love story: ‘The sun was shining and Alan took ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 24 September 2014

Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... to depend on ourselves and the universe’ after everything else was destroyed by the war. Dana Greene isn’t wrong when she says that Levertov’s early poems possess more biographical than poetic interest. But her first collection, The Double Image, which appeared in 1946, earned an appreciative mention from Vita Sackville-West in the Observer, and ...

Samuel Johnson goes abroad

Claude Rawson, 29 August 1991

A Voyage to Abyssinia 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Joel Gold.
Yale, 350 pp., £39.50, July 1985, 0 300 03003 7
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Rasselas, and Other Tales 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Gwin Kolb.
Yale, 290 pp., £24.50, March 1991, 0 300 04451 8
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A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) 
by Samuel Johnson.
Longman, 1160 pp., £195, September 1990, 0 582 07380 4
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The Making of Johnson’s Dictionary, 1746-1773 
by Allen Reddick.
Cambridge, 249 pp., £30, October 1990, 0 521 36160 5
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Samuel Johnson’s Attitude to the Arts 
by Morris Brownell.
Oxford, 195 pp., £30, March 1989, 0 19 812956 4
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Johnson’s Shakespeare 
by G.F. Parker.
Oxford, 204 pp., £25, April 1989, 0 19 812974 2
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... is probably true even of Irene. In the fiction, the political interest is primarily concerned, as Donald Greene said in his book on Johnson’s politics, ‘with the problems of psychology and morality that underlie political attitudes rather than with political questions themselves’. When Nekayah says ‘all natural and almost all political evils, are ...

Milne’s Cropper

Robert Kee, 7 July 1988

... people to whom he pays just tribute here. Grace Wyndham-Goldie added breadth to his vision and Donald Baverstock erratic flair. As DG, he was monarch of all he surveyed and could not see as far as he thought. Certainly an unfair disadvantage under which he suffered was the need to be seen as Director-General in something of the old style of that office, at ...

Enter Hamilton

Eric Foner, 5 October 2016

American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 
by Alan Taylor.
Norton, 704 pp., £30, November 2016, 978 0 393 08281 4
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... The racism​ , xenophobia and violence of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is widely seen as an aberration, as if reasoned debate had been the default mode of American politics. But precursors to Trump do exist, candidates who struck electoral gold by appealing to exaggerated fears, real grievances and visceral prejudices ...

A Regular Bull

Christopher Hitchens, 31 July 1997

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography 
by Sam Tanenhaus.
Random House, 640 pp., $35, February 1997, 0 394 58559 3
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... when recalled to Moscow, had a marked tendency to check out. (One such ‘disappeared’ member, Donald Robinson, falsely accused of contact with Trotsky in Mexico, later turned up in Hiss’s handwritten notes of the period and is the reason some on the left have always doubted Hiss’s word.) Chambers contrived to separate himself from the clandestine ...

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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... 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 Carré’s ...

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