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Howard’s End

John Sutherland, 18 September 1986

by Howard Jacobson.
Bantam, 314 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 593 01212 7
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Coming from behind 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 250 pp., £2.95, April 1984, 0 552 99063 9
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Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 351 pp., £2.95, October 1985, 0 552 99141 4
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... Howard Jacobson began writing novels late in life. As he tells it, the life was nothing much to write about. He was born in Manchester in 1942. His family was Jewish with a modest upward mobility track leading from Salford to Whitefield via Prestwich. The Jacobsons evidently made it to Prestwich. The young Howard went to grammar school and read English at Cambridge ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... James is your vice, then The Remake is not such a bad poison to choose. The same cannot be said of Howard Jacobson. By unhappy chance, he, too, was commissioned by the Times Literary Supplement, at the same time as James: he was to survey Australian fiction, and the performance makes James on Australian poetry look like Dr Johnson on a good day. ...

Wannabe Pervert

Sam Thompson: Howard Jacobson, 25 September 2008

The Act of Love 
by Howard Jacobson.
Cape, 308 pp., £17.99, September 2008, 978 0 224 08609 7
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... In Howard Jacobson’s 1998 novel No More Mr Nice Guy, a newspaper columnist, Frank, is approached on the street by a female reader wanting his autograph. She is flustered by her own boldness, and to his mind she has good reason to be: he thinks that asking a strange man for a signature shows no less temerity than asking him for sex ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... Howard Jacobson’s first novel, Coming from Behind, was published last year, and made one think that a new exponent of the comic academic narrative had arrived. Jacobson’s hero, Sefton Goldberg, Jewish and highly suspicious of his Gentile surroundings, is aggressive towards the literature he’s supposed to be teaching, to a degree that makes Leavis seem like a nice auntie ...

Big Rip-Off

Colin Burrow: Riffing Off Shakespeare, 3 November 2016

Shylock Is My Name: ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Retold 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hogarth, 277 pp., £16.99, February 2016, 978 1 78109 028 2
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Vinegar Girl: ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ Retold 
by Anne Tyler.
Hogarth, 233 pp., £16.99, June 2016, 978 1 78109 018 3
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The Gap of Time: ‘The Winter’s Tale’ Retold 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Hogarth, 291 pp., £16.99, October 2015, 978 1 78109 029 9
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Hag-Seed: ‘The Tempest’ Retold 
by Margaret Atwood.
Hogarth, 293 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78109 022 0
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... hard to read without some pain either Jeanette Winterson’s rewriting of The Winter’s Tale or Howard Jacobson’s of The Merchant of Venice. Part of the problem is that this series seems to operate on the principle that the ideal person to rewrite a given play must be one who shares an obvious feature with it. Winterson is an orphan, so she gets a ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Labour and Anti-Semitism, 10 May 2018

... alarm at some of the abuse directed at ‘obvious’ Jews, like the episode recently recounted by Howard Jacobson when a woman spat on him in the street and then suggested he needed a shower of a particular kind. When you consider the lethal attack on worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque last year, it may well be that it is Muslims who feel as ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 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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... folds. Following a disastrous Booker ceremony at which he comports himself on camera ‘worse than Howard Jacobson’ (‘impossible,’ someone interjects), Francis is recruited by Nada Television to research a European man of letters with a mysterious past and a desperately unconvincing name – Dr Bazlo Criminale. The aim is to produce a ...

On the highway

Jonathan Coe, 24 March 1994

by Joseph O’Connor.
Flamingo, 426 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 224301 6
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Resurrection Man 
by Eoin McNamee.
Picador, 233 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 330 33274 0
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by Emma Donoghue.
Hamish Hamilton, 232 pp., £9.99, January 1994, 0 241 13442 0
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... easy charm and an undercurrent of throwaway, slightly macho humour reminiscent of Tom Sharpe or Howard Jacobson. (A character called Smokes decides not to tell his girlfriend that he’s been unfaithful to her; after satisfying himself that he is morally justified in the deception, he reflects that ‘this scenario would have the added advantage of ...

Up from the Cellar

Nicholas Spice: The Interment of Elisabeth Fritzl, 5 June 2008

by Elfriede Jelinek, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Serpent’s Tail, 340 pp., £7.99, July 2008, 978 1 84668 666 5
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... near any mountains) – or perhaps the Habsburgs, ‘an echo, too, of Sigmund Freud’s Vienna’. Howard Jacobson, writing in the Independent, speaks darkly of ‘other questions the respectable, peace-loving burghers of Austria never asked … There was a concentration camp in Amstetten … a camp for women.’ What Jelinek sees as distinctively ...

A good God is hard to find

James Francken: Jenny Diski, 4 January 2001

Only Human: A Divine Comedy 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 215 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 1 86049 839 6
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... scholars by passing off her psalms as his own. Psalm 23 appears – anachronistically – in Howard Jacobson’s novel The Very Model of a Man, where it is Cain who gets the chance to tell his story: ‘The Lord was our shepherd. We did not want. He fed us in green and fat pastures, gave us to drink from deep waters, made us to lie in a good fold ...

Watch your tongue

Marina Warner, 20 August 1992

Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love 
by Howard Bloch.
Chicago, 308 pp., £14.95, February 1992, 0 226 05973 1
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Women of the Renaissance 
by Margaret King.
Chicago, 328 pp., £13.50, December 1991, 0 226 43618 7
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The Lady as Saint: A Collection of French Hagiographical Romances of the 13th Century 
by Brigitte Cazelles.
Pennsylvania, 320 pp., £35, November 1991, 9780812230994
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Heavenly Supper: The Story of Maria Janis 
by Fulvio Tomizza, translated by Anne Jacobson Shutte.
Chicago, 184 pp., £19.95, December 1991, 0 226 80789 4
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Oppositional Voices: Women as Writers and Translators of Literature in the English Renaissance 
by Tina Krontiris.
Routledge, 192 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 415 06329 9
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... years ago against the counterfeit of women’s fascination and the seductions of their tongues. As Howard Bloch points out in his short and combative study Medieval Misogyny, the flesh was seen as feminine, set in opposition to soul or mind, and the spirit wears the body like a concealing garment; to adorn this fleshly raiment with yet more artifice and paint ...

The Greeter

Sean Wilsey: With Cantor Fitzgerald, 19 September 2002

... my first day and that I did not even know anyone’s name. I knew the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald was Howard Lutnick and that was it. Hundreds of pictures of missing people covered a wall in the ballroom about a hundred feet long. The wall looked like a quilt. But they were all colour Xeroxes, and these women were looking for a real photograph. I imagined that it ...

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