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Highlight of Stay So Far

Stefan Collini: Beckett’s Letters, 1 December 2016

The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. IV: 1966-89 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 838 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 0 521 86796 2
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... optimism. When trying to console his close friend Jocelyn Herbert on the death of her partner, George Devine, Beckett suggests there is one possible form of solace or at least distraction: ‘Work hard labour & not much comfort, but a great deadener.’ Or, rather, in his own case it would be if he could get any done. ‘I try to work. To little avail. A ...

On Needing to Be Looked After

Tim Parks: Beckett’s Letters, 1 December 2011

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-56 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 791 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 521 86794 8
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... for mostly have to do with his difficulties getting published: ‘My play in French,’ he tells George Reavey of Eleutheria, ‘was almost taken by Hussenot-Grenier,’ while ‘Watt was “nearly” taken in London, I forget by whom’ (a footnote informs us that Herbert Read at Routledge read the novel with ‘considerable bewilderment’ and found it ...

‘Famous for its Sausages’

David Blackbourn, 2 January 1997

The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 190 pp., £22.50, July 1995, 0 19 509499 9
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... intellectuals no less than among businessmen or professionals. This is familiar terrain for Gordon Craig. Born a year before the First World War, Craig first visited Germany in 1935, to research an undergraduate thesis on the Weimar Republic. He made his name as a historian in the Fifties, with an important work on the ...
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... back in Moscow.’ That denouncer of Dostoevsky, Doctor Zhivago, Thomas Mann, Faulkner, George Eliot, Klebnikov, War and Peace, Stendhal and Cervantes, Boyd explains, ‘particularly liked reading bad literature aloud – “I can’t stop quoting!” he would chortle with glee.’ His ebullience and self-delight were clearly a trial to Edmund ...

Getting on

Patricia Craig, 17 September 1987

The Golden Bird: Two Orkney Stories 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 226 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 7195 4385 1
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The Upper Hand 
by Stuart Hood.
Carcanet, 186 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 719 7
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Dreams of Dead Women’s Handbags 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 160 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 434 44044 2
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... into the Gaedhaltacht areas of Donegal, out of apprehension about its Anglicising effect. George Mackay Brown’s Orkney is an unfamiliar, off-shore locality in which everything seems a little richer through being both concentrated and chancy. How long can its distinctive character survive? It was endangered as long ago as the last quarter of the 19th ...

Disaster

Ronan Bennett, 16 December 1993

De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow 
by Tim Pat Coogan.
Hutchinson, 772 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780091750305
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... negotiations, Nixon was never arrested or charged. He became an embarrassment only when Sir James Craig and the Unionist hierarchy got involved with the Governments of the Irish Free State and Britain in the delicate negotiations about the border. Nixon was forced out of the police, although not before being awarded an MBE for ‘valuable services rendered ...

Renaissance

Patricia Craig, 2 March 1989

Fictions of the Irish Literary Revival: A Changling Art 
by John Wilson Foster.
Gill and Macmillan, 407 pp., £30, November 1987, 0 8156 2374 7
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... writing – not omitting would-be realism and its departures from reality. We have, for example, George Moore, whose emphasis on self-realisation prefigureed that of Joyce, and furnished an antidote to the kind of self-effacement, in the interests of some nationalist ideal, required by the revival of its most ardent adherents. In The Untilled Field of 1903 ...

Dan’s Fate

Craig Raine, 3 October 1985

Time and Time Again 
by Dan Jacobson.
Deutsch, 213 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97804 6
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... incidents, details, are included because they happened. Yet take the essay ‘Fate, Art, Love, and George’, which is an account of how Dan Jacobson came to marry his wife. It was, you could say, an accident. In bald summary, George, a virtual stranger to the author, by making an enquiry about economics in the smoking-room ...

Exit Humbug

David Edgar: Theatrical Families, 1 January 2009

A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 620 pp., £25, September 2008, 978 0 7011 7987 8
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... Irving were both actors (the former was a playwright as well). Terry’s daughter, Edith (Edy) Craig, had a career as a designer, director and producer of feminist plays; her brother, Edward Gordon Craig, acted with Irving, but became disillusioned with the English theatre and, like other maverick theatre visionaries ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... why Jimmy Hill has an Arab headdress, or why Lord Home stands bat in hand before a broken wicket. Craig Brown says that in his caricatures Boxer mixed ‘the base and the suave’, but there is not a lot of baseness here, not much of the Rowlandson; and such fluent drawing can hardly help flattering the sitter. What Brown calls Boxer’s ‘beauty of line and ...

The Shirt of Nessan

Patricia Craig, 9 October 1986

The Free Frenchman 
by Piers Paul Read.
Secker, 570 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 436 40966 6
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Dizzy’s Woman 
by George MacBeth.
Cape, 171 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 224 02801 4
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On Foreign Ground 
by Eduardo Quiroga.
Deutsch, 92 pp., £7.95, April 1986, 0 233 97894 1
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A New Shirt 
by Desmond Hogan.
Hamish Hamilton, 215 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 241 11928 6
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... political standpoints. Some potentially loose ends are gathered up in the last page or two. George MacBeth’s declared intention is to supply a want. In the series of letters exchanged between Benjamin Disraeli and Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, Lady Londonderry (known as ‘Vane’) there’s an unexplained hiatus. A silence, beginning in 1839, the year ...

Taking the hint

David Craig, 5 January 1989

The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, 1822 
by John Prebble.
Collins, 399 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 00 215404 8
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... Prebble’s that all these tartans were nothing but hype: a stunt devised chiefly by Scott to make George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in August 1822 as splendiferous as possible. In his anonymous shilling pamphlet ‘HINTS addressed to the INHABITANTS OF EDINBURGH AND OTHERS in prospect of HIS MAJESTY’S VISIT by an Old Citizen’, Scott dubbed a principal ...

Non-Eater

Patricia Craig, 3 December 1992

Life-Size 
by Jenefer Shute.
Secker, 232 pp., £7.99, August 1992, 0 436 47278 3
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Daughters of the House 
by Michèle Roberts.
Virago, 172 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 1 85381 550 0
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... benefits of anorexia is amenorrhea, in Josie’s very distorted view.) You are reminded, also, of George Steiner’s comment on Plath’s appropriation of the Holocaust – ‘a subtle larceny’ – when Josie, in Life-Size, makes no distinction between voluntary and involuntary starvation. Fasting, for whatever purpose, or for no purpose at all, strikes a ...

Bird-man swallows human

David Craig: Birds’ Eggs, 19 October 2016

The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and outside) a Bird’s Egg 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 288 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 4088 5125 8
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... who harvested guillemots and great auks for their flesh and eggs, to British collectors such as George Lupton, a wealthy lawyer who, in the 1930s, paid the professional climmers – cliff-climbers – of Bempton, just north of Flamborough in Yorkshire, to collect guillemots’ eggs for his collection. That amounted to more than a thousand eggs and is now ...

Keith Middlemas on the history of Ireland

Keith Middlemas, 22 January 1981

Ireland: Land of Troubles 
by Paul Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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Neighbours 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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Ireland: A History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... Even for Gladstone’s Liberal colleagues (though not for him), and for Elizabeth I or Lloyd George, they were a costly and debilitating diversion from more important matters. But except in the late 18th century, Ireland denied its administrators, even full-time, well-meaning ones, the illusion that overrule would be acceptable if only it provided ...

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