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Phantom Jacks

John Bayley

5 January 1989
Jack: C.S. Lewis and His Times 
by George Sayer.
Macmillan, 278 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 333 43362 9
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J.B. Priestley 
by Vincent Brome.
Hamish Hamilton, 512 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 9780241125601
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Eddy: The Life of Edward Sackville-West 
by Michael De-la-Noy.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £16, October 1988, 0 370 31164 7
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... no known intellectual, religious or social pattern. An old friend and former schoolmaster, Mr Sayer seems to intuit the ‘highly unusual boy’ in Lewis, and this makes his biographical memoir both more perceptive and more congenial than the already numerous official and professional studies. Lewis lost his mother very young, always got on badly with his ...

Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart

18 September 1980
C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... table, he would take it for granted that she merited nothing but a little badinage or banter.) George Sayer, in the course of a notably sympathetic and pleasing portrait, has to admit that Lewis did not naturally like boys or children at all, although he was a most successful writer of stories for them. But A. C. Harwood records that his children ...
2 February 1989
Thou shalt not uncover thy mother’s nakedness 
by George Hayim.
Quartet, 232 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 7043 2690 6
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My Father’s House 
by Sylvia Fraser.
Virago, 254 pp., £4.95, February 1989, 0 86068 181 5
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... George Hayim, candid homosexual masochist, globe-scampering self-gratifier, unabashed lifelong idler, one-book novelist, offers, for what it’s worth, his life story. Born in 1920, the son of an adulterous, wealthy Shanghai stockbroker whom he hated, and a Shanghai mother whom he adored, Hayim recalls an incident in his childhood when his father punished him for swearing by sticking a pin in his lip ...
1 September 1988
Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Secker, 496 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 0 436 28461 8
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The Comforts of Madness 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 128 pp., £9.95, July 1988, 0 09 468480 4
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Sweet Desserts 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Virago, 154 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 9780860688471
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Happiness 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins Harvill, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 00 271302 0
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... are the relevant facts: this rubbish heap of details is the past, the London under London. Paul Sayer works as a staff nurse in a psychiatric hospital. The Comforts of Madness is an extended imaginary exposure to what the wretches under his care feel. Peter is a long-term catatonic patient, and the novel takes the form of his interior monologue. Seemingly ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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...  ...
24 September 1992
Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... winds up with a postscript set in Norwich. At a staid University Teachers of English get-together George Steiner, Frank Kermode and Seamus Heaney do their party pieces and a novelist – the author of Doctor Criminale, we must suppose – reads from his upcoming work, ‘whose ending he seems not to know’. The publisher’s blurb laconically informs us that ...
15 July 1982
Christopher Brennan: A Critical Biography 
by Axel Clark.
Melbourne, 358 pp., £20, May 1980, 0 522 84182 1
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... with lower-case letters at the beginning of lines, might have been no more than what Stefan George, who employed such devices wholesale, was later to call barbed wire against the uninitiated (‘Stacheldraht wider Unberufene’). But the archaic language had the more destructively alienating effect of sounding poetic while concealing meaning ...

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