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Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... James Thurber, Walker Evans, James M. Cain, Nunnally Johnson, S.J. Perelman, Dawn Powell, Joseph Mitchell and John O’Hara. Many of these celebrated figures, artists and authors approaching fifty at the start of the decade or only lately past it, grew up in small provincial towns, emigrated to New York in the Jazz Age and worked together in the city rooms ...

Other Poems and Other Poets

Donald Davie, 20 September 1984

Notes from New York, and Other Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, March 1984, 0 19 211959 1
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The Cargo 
by Neil Rennie.
TNR Productions, 27 pp., January 1984
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Collected Poems 1943-1983 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £14.95, April 1984, 0 85635 498 8
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... English-speakers) to just the degree that among the compatriots of Betjeman and Larkin and Adrian Mitchell he is a prophet without much honour; and there has not been lacking the rather plain implication: ‘Go and live with those furriners that like you so much.’ But Tomlinson won’t go away; and he insists on publishing in his native country – thanks ...

Love and Hate, Girl and Boy

Juliet Mitchell: Louise Bourgeois, 6 November 2014

... of the violence, and remorse for that violence, felt by the baby towards the mother. It was Donald Winnicott who pointed out that the mother hates the baby before the baby hates her. Bourgeois’s own experience as a child and as a mother (she had three sons) had taught her that the ambivalence between mother and child goes both ways. For her the mother ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... outskirts of Moscow, when they buried Kim Philby. Guy Burgess had died in 1963, Anthony Blunt and Donald Maclean in 1983. Philby, however, was still alive when I started work in Moscow as the Independent’s correspondent there in early 1987, and his presence was a source of recurrent nightmares. Naturally I had put out feelers for an interview, but they led ...

A Pie Every Night

Deborah Friedell: Schizophrenia in the Family, 18 February 2021

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family 
by Robert Kolker.
Quercus, 377 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 0 385 54376 7
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... healers and psychopharmacologists have failed to keep your child alive, there’s W.J.T. Mitchell’s Mental Traveller: A Father, a Son and a Journey through Schizophrenia, with its emphasis on journey, discovery, finding strength in what remains.* Mitchell is fond of quoting Leonard Cohen – ‘there is a crack ...

Culture Wars

W.J.T. Mitchell, 23 April 1992

... effect, between rhetorical coercion and solicitation of resistance is clear in the scene in which Donald Sutherland delivers a long monologue to Kevin Costner on the Mall in Washington DC, the great monuments to the republic arrayed around them. Sutherland as a mysterious ‘Mr X’ lays out the full scope of the conspiracy for the wide-eyed innocence of ...

Working the Dark Side

David Bromwich: On the Uses of Torture, 8 January 2015

... was placed under the guidance of two former instructors in resistance to torture, James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Like the agents they supervised, Mitchell and Jessen are protected by pseudonyms, but earlier reporting in their case has made it possible to penetrate the disguise. Their strategy was to ‘reverse ...
... is veering in just the opposite direction – away from formalism and explication de texte. Donald Davie declares that ‘criticism as an institution does not, and never did exist,’ thereby establishing his claim to being further out of touch with reality than anyone else in this volume. Davie means to say, of course, that criticism as an institution ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo, 17 August 2006

The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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... Kazuo Ishiguro, British in all but name, has not lived in Nagasaki since he was a toddler; David Mitchell left Hiroshima four years ago. There is a certain amount of unjustly neglected travel writing, such as the work of the late Alan Booth. But Japan has never attracted the attention of a Chatwin or a Naipaul, let alone fostered a Kipling, a Somerset ...

Prolonging her absence

Danny Karlin, 8 March 1990

The Wimbledon Poisoner 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 307 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 571 14242 7
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The Other Occupant 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 0 333 52509 4
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Possession 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 511 pp., £13.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3260 4
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... characters creak wincingly about the stage: the ignorant physician (‘There was no chance that Donald would diagnose thallium poisoning. Donald couldn’t diagnose a common cold’), the lumpish child (‘She went to piano. She went to ballet. She went to drama classes. She went to lessons in drawing, ice-skating, junior ...

Molehunt

Christopher Andrew, 22 January 1987

Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... Anatoli Golitsin. Largely at Martin’s insistence, MI5’s own deputy director-general, Graham Mitchell, was put under surveillance on suspicion of being a Soviet agent. The director-general, Sir Roger Hollis, concluded – probably correctly – that the obsessive hunt for traitors was undermining MI5 morale. Martin was taken off the Blunt case and moved ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... information to light. Its blurb called it ‘the only serious biography of the man himself’. Now Donald Spoto, author of The Art of Alfred Hitchcock (1976), has undertaken to show The Dark Side of Genius, on the ground that (according to his blurb) ‘the intensely private, secretive Hitchcock eluded the serious biographer until now.’ This is unfair to ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 25 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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... who had ‘recently married an American GI’ and ‘hopes to come to the States’. The GI was Mitchell Goodman, an ex-artillery officer and aspiring novelist who proposed to Levertov so soon after meeting her in a Geneva hostel that she called him ‘Goodwin’ in a letter home. She told her parents she wasn’t ‘romantically in love’ with him, but ...

Untheory

Alexander Nehamas, 22 May 1986

Contest of Faculties: Philosophy and Theory after Deconstruction 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 247 pp., £16, November 1985, 0 416 39939 8
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Philosophical Profiles 
by Richard Bernstein.
Polity, 313 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7456 0226 6
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Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism 
edited by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 146 pp., £12.75, November 1985, 0 226 53226 7
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... But he never shows why such claims are necessary for Foucault’s specific projects. Even Donald Davidson, on whose views Norris relies extensively in arguing against relativism, insists that we cannot recognise a conceptual framework or tradition unless we are in broad agreement with most of its elements. Davidson’s view, therefore, explicitly ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves, 6 June 2013

The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... US, Europe and South America with a medley of scenes from Shakespeare. ‘His voice was quiet,’ Donald Spoto writes in his new study of the Redgrave family, but still expressive, and his gait often unsteady, but audiences seemed to provide him with a shot of adrenalin, and spectators were invariably impressed by the presence of Sir Michael Redgrave, still ...

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