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“... There is food for comparative thought – well, not real food, more of a light snack – in the fact that the French call roman policier what we would call a crime novel. A sign of our respective allegiances, perhaps, where our hearts are. Of course there don’t have to be police in a roman policier, just the sorts of activity the Police might or ought to be interested in ...”
“... In an essay on the death of Macaulay, Thackeray wrote movingly about the British Museum Reading Room, where the historian had done his great work: Many Londoners – not all – have seen the British Museum Library. I have seen all sorts of domes of Peters and Pauls, Sophia, Pantheon – what not? – and have been struck by none of them so much as by that catholic dome in Bloomsbury, under which our million volumes are housed ...”
“... David Storey’s new novel begins with a brief prelude reminiscent of The Rainbow’s, tracing the historical mutations of a locality from its natural to its urban (here 1930s) condition. The theme of the novel has other evident similarities with Sons and Lovers ...”
“... Universally acclaimed as the pioneer of the modern detective-thriller, Hammett died in 1961, yet this is the first full-length account of his life to appear. In the context of the continuing vogue for biography, such a delay constitutes a small literary mystery, and in the preface to Shadow Man Richard Layman supplies a terse explanation ...”
“... The opening sentence of Swing Hammer Swing!, Jeff Torrington’s great, boisterous first novel, might serve as a headline announcing his Whitbread Book of the Year Award (‘Literary Outsider wins Whitbread’, ‘Triumph of Thirty-Year Novel’, ‘Jeff’s in the Swing’), or ...”
“... The large university library I use contains few books which the undergraduates have read virtually to pulp. One is Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, published 95 years ago. Its pages are falling out and its binding has been worn to threads and cardboard ...”
“... station. Diwana, which opened in 1970, claims that it was the first restaurant in Britain to serve South Indian vegetarian food. It wasn’t the first Asian food outlet in the street: Ambala, now a chain of shops selling Indian sweets, opened in 1965, catering to the immigrants from India and Bangladesh (then East ...”
“... The meaning of these strange words was already archaic in the early 1790s when William Pitt’s Government brought an array of British radical reformers to trial for high treason. The words ‘compass’ and ‘imagine’ had entered the English language from law French, and were usually glossed as meaning ‘design’ or ‘intend’. The 1794 treason trials ...”
“... The most charming fact I have stumbled on in intellectual history is that Freud and Shaw were shocked by one another. Freud’s wounded romanticism speaks in his reference (in Group Psychology, 1921) to ‘Bernard Shaw’s malicious aphorism to the effect that being in love means greatly exaggerating the difference between one woman and another ...”
“... baffling things about America,’ Amiri Baraka wrote in 1963, ‘is that despite its essentially vile profile, so much beauty continues to exist here.’ Perhaps, he wondered, ‘it is because of the vileness, or call it adversity, that such beauty does exist.’ Baraka made the ...”
“... Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann wrote about 46 Palmerston Road in Rathmines in Dublin, where George Yeats lived between her husband’s death in 1939 and her own death almost thirty years later. Mrs Yeats lived, Ellmann wrote, among the dead poet’s papers. ‘There in the bookcases ...”
“... The Feminist Companion to Literature in English is itself the product of impressive feminist companionship. Listed in the preamble are three editors, four consulting editors, 12 contributing editors, and 54 ‘contributors’ – all women, all university teachers. Academic addresses range over three continents (Asia and Africa are missing, although women writers from those corners of the world are generously represented ...”
“... Have you read Glen Matlock’s I was a teenage Sex Pistol? In its own way this is an enlightening book and I like the manner in which the words appear, splattered in a typeface that’s like a modern memorandum or a press release. Young Glen, though he can’t be so young today, had a good ghost writer in Pete Silverton ...”
“... The birth of Prince George obviates the immediate need for the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 which introduced gender equality into the line of succession. Section 2 of the Act addresses, though only in part, another outmoded form of discrimination: ‘A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith ...”
“... Every publication is required, by law I believe, to carry the printer’s name. No such rigorous obligation attaches to statements of authorship. It is a licence that fiction, in particular, has richly exploited. Ever since its rise the novel has flirted with authorial anonymity and pseudonymity ...”