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In the field

Nigel Hamilton, 5 November 1981

Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... Study of Some Homosexual Generals one of the most interesting books I have read this year. General Richardson was a decorated Army doctor (DSO and OBE). He writes with such intelligence, conversational elegance and compassion that his remark, in his Acknowledgments, that he is only an amateur author, seems absurd. His book is a joy to read, and stimulating ...

Lurching up to bed with the champion of Cubism

Nicholas Penny: Douglas Cooper, 20 January 2000

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 320 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 224 05056 7
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... John Richardson is one of those gossips who knows – or at least knows about – everyone. For example (on page 118, to be precise), Marie-Laure (1), Maurice Bischoffsheim (2), the Comtesse de Chevigné (3), the Duchesse de Guermantes (4), the Marquis de Sade (5), Jean Cocteau (6), the Vicomte de Noailles (7), an anonymous gym instructor (8), Igor Markevitch (9), Diaghilev (10), Nijinsky (11), Maurice Gendron (12): I was the daughter of 2, an immensely rich Belgian banker, and the granddaughter of 3, who was said to be the model for 4, and was also – would you believe it? – the great-great-granddaughter of 5 ...

The Court

Richard Eyre, 23 September 1993

The Long Distance Runner 
by Tony Richardson.
Faber, 277 pp., £17.50, September 1993, 0 571 16852 3
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... are the early years of the English Stage Company, started in 1955 by George Devine and Tony Richardson, although the theatre enjoyed at least as luminous a period from 1904 to 1907 when Harley Granville-Barker was its artistic director. The Royal Court is the perfect size for a playhouse; it seats about four hundred people (two hundred fewer than in ...

Arctic Habits

Tony Tanner, 25 May 1995

Emerson: The Mind on Fire 
by Robert Richardson.
California, 668 pp., £27, June 1995, 0 520 08808 5
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... commonplace. We will really say no more on a topic so sterile.’ Not so, responds Robert Richardson; we will say 670 pages more on the topic. By the end you might wonder whether Emerson wasn’t rather in the right of it. An unremarkable, rather spartan, childhood; average performances at school and university; an appointment to, followed by a ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud, 21 June 2001

Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... sometimes ungenerous Olivier, the invariably envious Wolfit and the amiable but rather straitlaced Richardson. And of course both books have to deal with the crisis of 1953. Gielgud was arrested for soliciting, and although Morley and his publishers claim to have dealt for the first time fully, frankly and sympathetically with this episode there is a perfectly ...

The Vanishing Brothel

Linda Nochlin, 6 March 1997

A Life of Picasso. Vol. II: 1907-1917 
by John Richardson and Marilyn McCully.
Cape, 500 pp., £30, November 1996, 0 224 03120 1
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Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 398 pp., £25, November 1996, 0 316 88173 2
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Picasso and the Spanish Tradition 
edited by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 208 pp., £30, November 1996, 0 300 06475 6
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... with the Demoiselles because the painting figures so prominently in the second volume of John Richardson’s magisterial Life of Picasso, whose first chapter, and part of the second, are devoted to its genesis, sources, formal innovations and iconography, and the ways in which Picasso’s experiences at the time he was painting it affected its final ...

We’re not talking to you, we’re talking to Saturn

Nick Richardson: Lingua Cosmica, 18 June 2020

Extraterrestrial Languages 
by Daniel Oberhaus.
MIT, 252 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 262 04306 9
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... was renewed in 1960 with a programme of long-distance observation conducted by the astronomer Frank Drake. He called it Project Ozma, after the rightful ruler of Oz in the Frank L. Baum stories, and pointed a National Radio Astronomy Observatory telescope at the stars Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti, which are similar ...

Unreasoning Vigour

Stefan Collini: Ian Watt, 9 May 2019

Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic 
by Marina MacKay.
Oxford, 228 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 882499 2
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... deft and thoughtful study. In 1957 Watt published The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding. Few works of criticism from the second half of the 20th century have been more influential. The Rise of the Novel, MacKay reports, ‘continues to be amplified, supplemented or attacked – it must somehow be reckoned with – by every ...

Taken aback

Frank Kermode, 25 June 1987

Close Quarters 
by William Golding.
Faber, 281 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 571 14779 8
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... fate, and few may know that the familiar expression has a nautical origin. According to Sir John Richardson, as quoted in the OED, it happens thus: ‘when through a shift of wind or bad steerage, the wind comes in front of the square sails and lays them back against the masts, instantly staying the inward course and giving her stern way, an accident ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... Isherwood returned the tepid compliment, 12 years later, with a script for the Tony Richardson production of The Loved One. The movie regularly makes the lists of alltime turkeys. Would that my enemy had written a book and I might adapt it for the screen. The stock of the various members of the Auden Gang has fluctuated over the decades, and ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event , 20 April 1995

... of Forrest Gumps everywhere’), the girl seated next to Madonna, in the words of my colleague Frank DiGiacomo, ‘turned to the pop star and displayed the universal hand symbol for masturbation’. The Material Girl herself interrupted a speech on how FG ‘stood for several qualities’ by chirping: ‘How about mediocrity?’ So there is sales ...

Novels about Adultery

Frank Kermode, 15 May 1980

Love and Marriage 
by Laurence Lerner.
Edward Arnold, 264 pp., £12, August 1979, 0 7131 6227 9
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Adultery in the Novel: Contract and Transgression 
by Tony Tanner.
Johns Hopkins, 383 pp., £9.75, April 1980, 0 8018 2178 9
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... Herzog, and there must be more. But it seems almost as rare as duelling, which, still important in Richardson, crops up anachronistically in Flaubert, and even more so in Wyndham Lewis. Wronged spouses in novels mostly seem to be miserable rather than furious or sullied – the Prince de Clèves, for instance, and Karenin, Ford’s heroes and Tony Last. The ...

Closets of Knowledge

Frank Kermode: Privacy, 19 June 2003

Privacy: Concealing the 18th-Century Self 
by Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Chicago, 248 pp., £25.50, May 2003, 0 226 76860 0
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... deplored by anxious parents, especially parents of girls, as the source of dangerous imaginings. Richardson, Rousseau and Sterne are important here, but so are a troop of female writers: Jane Austen, here delicately analysed, but also Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Fielding, Frances Burney and others. Dr Johnson remarked that the ‘call for books’ had greatly ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?, 30 April 2009

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... need for them), there are some prayers of unsettled authorship, a dramatisation of part of Samuel Richardson’s novel Sir Charles Grandison, admittedly of little interest in itself, and some poems of which the same might be said. The 100-page introduction is lovingly minute in its coverage of early commentary, and the annotations are careful and useful. The ...

‘Very nice. Who’s next?’

Nick Richardson: ‘Building Stories’, 6 December 2012

Building Stories 
by Chris Ware.
Cape, 246 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 224 07812 2
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... of building, and of buildings, in mind. The amputee’s husband is an architect, they live near Frank Lloyd Wright’s old house, and the memorial service for the amputee’s friend who kills herself is held at Wright’s Unity Temple. Ware’s drawings are strictly ruled: many of the frames are organised in series of squares, at regular intervals, with ...

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