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Little Green Crabs

John Bayley, 12 October 1989

Albertine gone 
by Marcel Proust, translated by Terence Kilmartin.
Chatto, 99 pp., £11.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3359 7
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Marcel Proust: A Biography 
by George Painter.
Chatto, 446 pp., £20, August 1989, 0 7011 3421 6
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The Book of Proust 
by Philippe Michel-Thiriet, translated by Jan Dalley.
Chatto, 406 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 7011 3360 0
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Marcel Proust. Selected Letters: Vol II, 1904-1909 
essays by Philip Kolb, translated by Terence Kilmartin.
Collins, 482 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 00 217078 7
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... in this extremity, on what life rather than art can do. In its loving detail and its quiet humour Painter’s today quite undated biography matches and complements Proust’s own method, and his own dedication. He is especially good at bringing out the ways in which real life could not be used by Proust, supreme as were his digestive powers where the ...

Someone like Maman

Elisabeth Ladenson: Proust’s mother, 8 May 2008

Madame Proust: A Biography 
by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, translated by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 310 pp., £16, October 2007, 978 0 226 05642 5
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... as in her in-laws’ house in Illiers, where a crucifix hung over her bed? In the 1950s, George Painter failed to interview the many witnesses still around, preferring instead to piece together a version of Proust’s life from his fiction, which he then used to explain the novel. Bloch-Dano does not go this far, but she sometimes tends in the ...

Edward and Tilly and George

Robert Melville, 15 March 1984

Swans Reflecting Elephants: My Early Years 
by Edward James, edited by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 178 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 297 77988 5
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... two ‘Iberian beings’ eating one another with the help of spoon and fork and, according to the painter, expressing the pathos of civil war. Almost every item James collected would have made an appropriate exhibit in what Dali called Surrealism’s ‘lawsuit against Reality’, but I particularly admired two very small paintings – certainly no bigger ...

Proust and the Pet Goat

Michael Wood: The Proustian Grail, 7 October 2021

Les Soixante-Quinze Feuillets: Et autres manuscrits inédits 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Nathalie Mauriac Dyer.
Gallimard, 384 pp., €21, April, 978 2 07 293171 0
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... of them. What had happened? In the second volume of his biography of Proust, published in 1965, George Painter referred to ‘fragments of a lost novel’. In his 1996 biography Jean-Yves Tadié spoke of ‘75 pages currently missing’. The manuscripts were not in the collection of papers that went to the Bibliothèque nationale in 1962, or indeed ...

At the Palace Museum

John-Paul Stonard: Chinese Painting, 15 June 2017

... during my visit was Boats and a Riverside Mansion, traditionally attributed to the ninth-century painter Li Sixun. The silk has darkened and the colours faded, but you can still see the extreme refinement of the tiny brushstrokes, the infinite pains taken to define figures and foliage.The landscapes painted by Northern Song artists from the tenth century ...

‘Tiens! Une madeleine?’

Michael Wood: The Comic-Strip Proust, 26 November 1998

À la recherche du temps perdu: Combray 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Stéphane Heuet.
Delcourt, 72 pp., €10.95, October 1998, 2 84055 218 3
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Proust among the Stars 
by Malcolm Bowie.
HarperCollins, 348 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 255622 7
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... as the ‘convincing and accessible near-novels by biographers like André Maurois and George Painter’ suggest, and it reaches out to a universe far more varied than ‘the thin thread of Proust’s biography’. These are fighting words in our biographical days, but the reminder is more than timely. What we miss if we collapse Balbec into ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard Crick, 7 October 1982

... and sprightly picture book (which, incidentally, largely reflected Sonia’s view of the true George, though no reviewers noticed this). Perhaps so. I’m only irritated that Koestler failed to notice why I was so explicitly sceptical of the concept of character. Let me try again. I have talked to Koestler once at length and twice briefly and have read ...

A life, surely?

Jenny Diski: To Portobello on Angel Dust, 18 February 1999

The Ossie Clark Diaries 
edited by Henrietta Rous.
Bloomsbury, 402 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7475 3901 4
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... Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, worked, we are told, as a bookseller, florist and decorative painter before becoming a journalist and writing for Harpers & Queen and the Evening Standard diary. In 1979 and 1983 she stood as a Parliamentary candidate for the Wessex Regional Party. She met Ossie Clark in 1982 after he was acrimoniously divorced from the ...

Proust and His Mother

Michael Wood, 22 March 2012

... union, but even (or especially) on this reading Edmund White finds the image ‘chilling’, and George Painter has this to say: If [Mme Proust’s] words were given their full, terrible meaning they would imply a mystic union with her son more valid than her marriage, in an alien faith, to his father. But their consequences need not be taken so ...

The One-Eyed World of Germaine Greer

Brigid Brophy, 22 November 1979

The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work 
by Germaine Greer.
Secker, 373 pp., £12.50, November 1979, 1 86064 677 8
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... written records and the reserve collections of galleries for every mention and trace of a woman painter. Her findings are numerous but seldom lively, and she has relentlessly put them all in. Her text is weighted down, sometimes twice to a page, with mere lists, which, since there are notes at the back, could with more kindness to the reader have gone ...

Jackson breaks the ice

Andrew Forge, 4 April 1991

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... At his school, by one of those common but always surprising coincidences, was another famous painter-to-be, Philip Guston. It was a reactionary time and place, with red-baiting, strike-breaking and an active Klan. Both Guston and Pollock ran foul of the authorities. Pollock had already started to drink seriously. He dropped in and out of school. He was ...


A.J.P. Taylor: Magdalen College Portraits, 3 May 1984

... the way myself. The journey had an unexpected purpose. Some years earlier a professional portrait painter, June Mendoza, had asked me to sit for my portrait. After it was finished she offered it to Magdalen College, which, being taken up with the restoration of the college buildings, had no spare money to pay for a picture even if they had wanted to buy ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... shelf. Get out as early as you can,   And don’t have any kids yourself. The Lamberts – painter George (1873-1930), composer-conductor Constant (1905-51), and manager of The Who, Kit (1935-81) – got out as early as they could, and of the two who had kids neither showed paternal enthusiasm or skill. The misery deepened fully in Kit – the ...


Stephen Bann, 5 July 1984

Time in a Red Coat 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 249 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2804 6
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Harland’s Half-Acre 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 230 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2737 6
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The Border 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 113 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 09 156320 8
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... more precise theory and practice of language than the on-going bustle of narrative will allow for. George Meredith, to take a good example, plays havoc with the expected sequence of events, expanding and contracting particular elements of the plot so that we can feel the sinews of narrative creaking and cracking under the strain. Then he turns round and ...

Robbing banks

George Melly, 25 June 1992

by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £45, May 1992, 0 500 09227 3
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by Sarah Whitfield.
South Bank Centre, 322 pp., £18.95, May 1992, 1 85332 087 0
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... they followed these and came to the bridge over the Sambre, the local river.     The painter’s mother had thrown herself into the water and, when they fished out her corpse, her face was covered by her nightgown. It was never known whether she used it to cover her eyes against the death she had chosen or whether the swirling water had veiled ...

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