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Northern Antiquity: The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and Saga 
edited by Andrew Wawn.
Hisarlik, 342 pp., £35, October 1994, 1 874312 18 4
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Heritage and Prophecy: Grundtvig and the English-Speaking World 
edited by A.M. Allchin.
Canterbury, 330 pp., £25, January 1994, 9781853110856
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... sketch of the great translator Sir George Webbe Dasent: Of Herculean height and strength ... he resembled a Viking of old, and such I conceive he at times supposed himself to be ... He was two gentlemen at once ... In dull fact, he was an excellent ...

Hons and Wets

D.A.N. Jones, 6 December 1984

The House of Mitford 
by Jonathan Guinness and Catherine Guinness.
Hutchinson, 604 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 09 155560 4
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... was the son of divorced parents; Tap was (less unusual at the time) an illegitimate child – and he fathered some more illegitimate children after the death of his wife, bringing up all his children in his own independent way, often on a yacht, all dressed in sailor suits, among his sturdy Suffolk seamen. Both grandfathers wrote very well about interesting ...

Prep-School Girl

Sarah Wintle, 4 April 1985

... George Orwell was sent to St Cyprian’s in September 1911, when he was eight years old. His sisters, Marjorie and Averil stayed at home until they were 11. Orwell went on to Eton, his sisters, Bernard Crick writes, ‘to a girls’ boarding-school at Oxford, a decent enough place but by no means famous or front rank ...

Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig, 20 June 1985

Crusoe’s Daughter 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11526 4
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The Tie that Binds 
by Kent Haruf.
Joseph, 246 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 7181 2561 4
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Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife 
by Hilary Bailey.
Virago, 265 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780860683469
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A Fine Excess 
by Jane Ellison.
Secker, 183 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 14601 0
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Victory over Japan 
by Ellen Gilchrist.
Faber, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 571 13446 7
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... has quite a lot to do with Crusoe’s Daughter, supplying an epigraph with her riposte to Dickens (he complained that Robinson Crusoe never made anyone laugh or cry), and even turning up on a lawn in Yorkshire at one point in the narrative, very thin and beautiful. The summer after the wedding of her Aunt Frances, Polly – aged 16 – is brought, via ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland, 21 April 1988

Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... with the consolation of being the best-selling horror writer in the history of the world. But, as he disarmingly reminds us, there is worse literary company than Lovecraft, Leiber, Bloch, Matheson and Jackson. ‘I could, for example, be an “important” writer like Joseph Heller and publish a novel every seven years or so, or a “brilliant” writer like ...

Cheeky

Norman Page, 16 March 1989

Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... mother. Jemima Hardy died in her famous son’s 64th year, and it is surely inconceivable that he did not write to her from time to time during the years he spent in London, or that she did not preserve at least some of his letters. Yet all that turns up in these seven volumes is a single three-line postcard. Probably ...

My Missus

John Sutherland, 13 May 1993

Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 
by Joseph McAleer.
Oxford, 284 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 820329 2
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American Star: A Love Story 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 568 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 434 14093 7
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... at the vast unknown expanse of popular reading. The content of the small newsagent’s shop, he declared, ‘is the best available indication of what the mass of the English people really feels and thinks’. Methodical exploration was in order – and perhaps some intervention. Orwell’s proposition has been generally accepted and the essay in which ...

The Redeemed Vicarage

John Lennard, 12 May 1994

Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... but his overfilled shop hindered rapid movement. The ceramic display case went crashing down as he blundered past. A grandfather clock by Barraclough fell into Dalziel’s path and chimed its last as the fat man trod carelessly on the disembowelled works.’ Two novels later Dalziel’s face has become ‘as heavy and ugly as a slag heap’, and his grin ...

Watch with mother

Zachary Leader, 23 May 1996

Eastern Sun, Winter Moon 
by Gary Paulsen.
Gollancz, 244 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 9780575063198
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The Attic: Memoir of a Chinese Landlord’s Son 
by Guanlong Cao, translated by Guanlong Cao and Nancy Moskin.
California, 256 pp., £19.95, April 1996, 0 520 20405 0
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... wake of his 1995 memoir, Winterdance, a much-praised account of dog-sled racing in Alaska. Though he is only now gaining a reputation in Britain, Paulsen has published over 150 books in the United States, many for children and ‘young adults’, specifically boys. His best-known boys’ books are a trilogy of survivalist novels about an urban ...

Furibundo de la Serna

Laurence Whitehead, 2 November 1995

The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey around South America 
by Ernesto Che Guevara, translated by Ann Wright.
Verso, 155 pp., £19.95, June 1995, 1 85984 942 3
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Che Guevara 
by Jean Cormier, with Hilda Guevara and Alberto Grando.
Editions du Rocher, 448 pp., frs 139, August 1995, 2 268 01967 5
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Journal de Bolivie 
by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, translated by Fanchita Gonzalez- Batlle and France Binard.
La Découverte, 256 pp., frs 120, August 1995, 2 7071 2482 6
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L’Année ou nous n’étions nulle part: Extraits du journal de Che Guevara en Afrique 
edited by Paco Ignacio Taibo, Froilán Escóbar and Félix Guerra, translated by Mara Hernandez and René Solis.
Métaillié, 281 pp., frs 120, September 1995, 2 86424 205 2
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... found what his life was for in July 1955, in Mexico City. It was there, at the age of 27, that he met Raúl Castro, who introduced him to his older brother, Fidel. The Argentine doctor joined a motley band of Cuban expeditionaries in the near-suicidal landing (or sinking) of the Granma in a mangrove swamp at the eastern end of the island. The survivors ...

The Cookson Story

Stefan Collini: The British Working Class, 13 December 2001

The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes 
by Jonathan Rose.
Yale, 534 pp., £29.95, June 2001, 0 300 08886 8
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... there can be, and after five hundred pages, 24 tables and more than 1600 footnotes it’s clear he has a point. His introduction (still more the publisher’s blurb) makes much of the book’s ‘innovative research techniques’, the need to shift attention from text to reader, from elite readers to working-class readers, and so on. Such work has not been ...

Some Flim-Flam with Socks

Adam Kuper: Laurens van der Post, 3 January 2002

Storyteller: The Many Lives of Laurens van der Post 
by J.D.F. Jones.
Murray, 505 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5580 9
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... furious letter complaining that his book had been given to an anonymous anthropologist to review. He was a novelist, he pointed out: his book should be treated as a novel. Did the editor propose to invite astronomers to review science fiction? Nevertheless, even in making this protest ...

Off the Verandah

Adam Kuper: Malinowski’s Papuan peregrinations, 7 October 2004

Malinowski: Odyssey of an Anthropologist 1884-1920 
by Michael Young.
Yale, 690 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 300 10294 1
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... the beginning of modern anthropology. Malinowski revolutionised field methods. Asked once whether he had met any savages, J.G. Frazer was horrified: ‘But heaven forbid!’ His method was to despatch book-length questionnaires to ‘men in the field’, usually missionaries and colonial officials. They would then summon native experts to their verandahs and ...

Bowling along

Kitty Hauser: The motorist who first saw England, 17 March 2005

In Search of H.V. Morton 
by Michael Bartholomew.
Methuen, 248 pp., £18.99, April 2004, 0 413 77138 5
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... Between 1925 and the mid-1960s, H.V. Morton sold nearly three million copies of his travel books, from The Heart of London (1925) to A Traveller in Italy (1964). Most popular of all were his volumes on England, especially In Search of England, first published in 1927 and already in its 29th edition by 1943. If his books now end up in charity shops alongside discarded copies of the F-Plan Diet or John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, it’s because the shimmering and peaceable ‘England’ he promised is not, after all, to be found waiting at the end of a deserted lane, or, if it were, we’d never know, because we’d be stuck in a traffic jam on the M5 ...

Eels in Their Pockets

Nick Richardson: Poaching, 17 December 2015

The Last English Poachers 
by Bob Tovey and Brian Tovey, with John McDonald.
Simon & Schuster, 288 pp., £16.99, May 2015, 978 1 4711 3567 5
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... dissident who strikes out by moonlight for illicit game. ‘’Tis my delight on a shiny night,’ he boasts in the chorus, ‘in the season of the year.’ Since at least the late 19th century the character has been fleshed out in novels, as-told-to memoirs and wistful outsider essays. Black Bill, who appears in the Country Life journalist Ian Niall’s ...

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