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3 January 2008
... Gordon Brown, like all prime ministers, like all politicians, like all of us really, is over-reliant on the advice of a small group of people he thinks he can trust. In Brown’s case, these tend to be men who once worked as juniors in his office, having been hand-picked at a very young age. Douglas Alexander became Brown’s researcher and speechwriter when he was in his ...

Charmed Life

John Bayley

15 September 1983
The Russian Revolutionary Novel: Turgenev to Pasternak 
by Richard Freeborn.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, January 1983, 0 521 24442 0
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Boris Pasternak: His Life and Art 
by Guy de Mallac.
Souvenir, 450 pp., £14.95, February 1983, 0 285 62558 6
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Pasternak: A Biography 
by Ronald Hingley.
Weidenfeld, 294 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 9780297782070
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Selected Poems 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 7139 1497 1
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Poets of Modern Russia 
by Peter France.
Cambridge, 240 pp., £20, February 1983, 0 521 23490 5
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Russian Literature since the Revolution 
by Edward Brown.
Harvard, 413 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 674 78203 8
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... the peculiar conditions of Soviet literature, means a great deal to those who have taken part in it. It accreted round Pasternak precisely because his psychology did not mesh with it, because of what EdwardBrown in Russian Literature since the Revolution calls ‘his long exile inside himself’. Brown’s beautifully informative study, now republished in a revised and considerably enlarged version, is ...
24 October 1991
Ford Madox Brown​ and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle 
by Teresa Newman and Ray Watkinson.
Chatto, 226 pp., £50, July 1991, 0 7011 3186 1
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... Ford Madox Brown’s greatest picture is called Work, and it depicts the laying of a sewer. It is not beautiful. But that is part of Brown’s point, for he was after qualities that counted for more than beauty. Its subject was carefully chosen. Brown knew that sewers mattered. The threat of cholera haunted Mid-Victorian England, and ...
15 July 1982
The Newton Letter 
by John Banville.
Secker, 82 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 436 03265 1
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... in Ireland where he hopes to put the finishing touches to a book on Isaac Newton. Gradually, his research takes a back seat as he becomes fascinated with the family on whose property he is living. Edward Lawless is a wreck of a man, clumsy, inarticulate, frequently drunk; his wife Charlotte is noble, suffering, strangely withdrawn; Ottilie, Charlotte’s niece, is blonde, somewhat graceless, but ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Ben Nicholson

20 November 2008
... Surfaces in pale earth colours – brown, grey and buff – scraped and rescraped until they look like a wall ready for papering. Backgrounds overlaid with strong accents in brown and black or with patches of red, blue and green, bright as flags on a yacht. The whole articulated by hard pencil lines, some ruled, some making simple curves and circles. All of these things can be ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls

21 September 2016
... won the premiership, lost it, and won it back again, retiring from Parliament in 1964. Even Alec Douglas-Home had a second act after losing the election of 1964, serving as foreign secretary under Edward Heath. These are the lucky ones. A different fate awaited Jim Callaghan, who drifted into a burdensome obscurity after losing the 1979 election and resigning as Labour leader the following year ...

Dissecting the Body

Colm Tóibín: Ian McEwan

26 April 2007
On Chesil Beach 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 166 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 08118 4
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... to seem more than scientific, and said when she was finished: “How ugly it is, even uglier than a woman’s thing.”’) It is not hard to imagine the surprise of Florence, the girlfriend of Edward Mayhew, a nice girl in her early twenties from a nice background in Ian McEwan’s new novel, On Chesil Beach, when ‘one Saturday afternoon in late March, with the rain falling heavily outside the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman

9 May 2002
... It’s hard to imagine anyone settling down to write the further adventures of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it’s never done as well as Tom Brown’s Schooldays: Amazon.co.uk hasn ...
5 March 1987
The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William Dean Howells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... the same problem of interpreting this lurid development that we confront as readers. They had to read the text so far critically – and get it right – in order to proceed with it creatively. Alice Brown, one of the sharpest of the other contributors, expressed puzzlement to Elizabeth Jordan and identified the aunt as the knot in the puzzle. If she is mad she can be grappled with. We can pack her ...
4 May 1989
The Book of Evidence 
by John Banville.
Secker, 220 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 436 03267 8
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Carn 
by Patrick McCabe.
Aidan Ellis, 252 pp., £11.50, March 1989, 0 85628 180 8
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The Tryst 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 168 pp., £10.99, April 1989, 0 571 15450 6
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Gerontius 
by James Hamilton-Paterson.
Macmillan, 264 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 333 45194 5
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... Take one housemaid, who interrupts you while you are making a ludicrously maladroit attempt to swaddle a stolen painting in brown paper. Fly into a sulk. Bundle the poor girl into your car, and when she protests, silence her with a hammer, noting, as you do so, that its impact on her skull is like hitting clay or hard putty ...
5 May 1988
Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time

20 September 2017
The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward​ Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... Bill Emmott, the former editor of the Economist, writes that ‘the fear now is of being present at the destruction' of the ‘West’, the ‘world’s most successful political idea’. Edward Luce, for example, a Financial Times columnist based in Washington DC, isn’t sure ‘whether the Western way of life, and our liberal democratic systems, can survive’. Donald Trump has also ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Thomas Girtin

22 August 2002
... effect. In the exhibition, problems of condition are explained and displayed: a strip of a painting formerly protected by a mount shows unaltered blue greys, which exposure to light has turned to brown over most of the picture area. The comparatively small number of pictures that can be reckoned to look much as they did when they were new can be used to measure change in others. Among the guilty ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Unpopular Culture

5 June 2008
... as surely as turning up the house lights in a theatre. Colour belongs to the media-bombarded visual world Perry’s exhibition looks back beyond. Many of the paintings – Jack Smith’s black-grey-brown After the Meal, Ruskin Spear’s dusky Hammersmith Broadway, Victor Pasmore’s misty Riverside Gardens, Paul Nash’s bleak East Anglian sea wall in Promenade – are sadder and more solemn than the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Looking Ahead

18 May 2000
... A special 25th anniversary edition of Edward O. Wilson’s Sociobiology: The New Consensus was published in March. Harvard University Press are advertising it together with Richard Lewontin’s new book, The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism ...

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