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At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... but of De Sica’s wonderful Stazione Termini, also known as Indiscretion (1953), with Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift, where another American woman has an Italian romance and leaves it behind. But De Sica is tender where Lean is austere, even though Lean did later say he had put more of himself in Summertime than any other film he had ever made. Brief ...

Tribute to Trevor-Roper

A.J.P. Taylor, 5 November 1981

History and Imagination: Essays in honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper 
edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Valerie Pearl and Blair Worden.
Duckworth, 386 pp., £25, October 1981, 9780715615706
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... most within my range. We start with Homer and who wrote his poems. This essay by Professor Lloyd-Jones demonstrates anew the difference between ancient and modern scholarship which we often forget. We modernists have our views constantly disturbed by the discovery of new evidence. Classical scholarship consists of looking at the same evidence from different ...

Oh! – only Oh!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Burne-Jones, 9 February 2012

The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 629 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 571 22861 4
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... Edward Jones – the Burne came later – was born in Birmingham to a mother who died giving birth to him and a father who eked out a living as a frame-maker, although art, his son reported, ‘was always a great bewilderment to him’. The only person who seems to have recognised the boy’s talent – a neighbour who bought pictures to rework – had the dubious merit of having once painted stormy waves over a calm harbour scene by Turner ...

Memoriousness

E.S. Turner, 15 September 1988

Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... took part far more than their editors did in political, military and imperial affairs. William Howard Russell, backed by Delane, could be said to have brought down a British government by the vigour of his Crimean reporting, a legitimate feat in the circumstances. But the Times’s correspondent General Ferdinand Eber, a Hungarian condottiere who served ...

Wodehouse in America

D.A.N. Jones, 20 May 1982

P.G. Wodehouse: A Literary Biography 
by Benny Green.
Joseph, 256 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 907516 04 1
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Wodehouse on Wodehouse: Bring on the girls (with Guy Bolton), Performing Flea, Over Seventy 
Penguin, 655 pp., £2.95, September 1981, 0 14 005245 3Show More
P.G. Wodehouse: An Illustrated Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Eel Pie, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 0 906008 44 1
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P.G. Wodehouse: A Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 
edited by James Heineman and Donald Bensen.
Oxford, 197 pp., £40, February 1982, 0 19 520357 7
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The World of P.G. Wodehouse 
by Herbert Warren Wind.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 145670 3
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... happens that the hero was played by a schoolfellow of Wodehouse’s, the Hungarian Leslie Howard: he is mentioned in Wodehouse on Wodehouse.) The British public wanted Bertie Wooster or P.G. Wodehouse to act out the Leslie Howard part, the sleepy English gent who suddenly comes to life and sends the Nazis ...

Bevan’s Boy

R.W. Johnson, 24 March 1994

Michael Foot 
by Mervyn Jones.
Gollancz, 570 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 575 05197 3
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... for his stewardship of the Party. ‘I am deeply ashamed,’ he began. Unfortunately for Mervyn Jones, who both loves and admires his subject and would have us dwell on other things, it is the freeze-frame of that moment which lives on. For Foot had led Labour to its worst defeat since 1922, a defeat so bad that it handicaps Labour still. In almost exactly ...

Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift, 7 October 2010

The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... of the icon that stands in for Clift, a potent image of the suffering star. Having seen himself in Howard Hawks’s Red River (1948), Clift, so the story goes, knew that fame was coming to him, and grabbed the opportunity to get drunk anonymously one last time. In the years of his renown, it could seem as though his aim was to hold on to that anonymity while ...

Awfully Present

Thomas Jones: The Tambora Eruption, 5 February 2015

Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World 
by Gillen D’Arcy Wood.
Princeton, 293 pp., £19.95, April 2014, 978 0 691 15054 3
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... which went on a lot longer than the last fortnight of June – on harvests across Europe. Luke Howard, a chemist in Tottenham who in his Essay on the Modification of Clouds (1803) had distinguished the cirrus, stratus and cumulus types, began keeping a detailed record of London’s weather in 1807. He maintained it until 1819, publishing his findings as ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: Palladio, 12 February 2009

... its rules. Most of them are now in the RIBA library: they were brought to England by Inigo Jones in the early 1600s and then passed through various hands, in particular Lord Burlington’s. Nearly all are plans and elevations, so to read them you must extract three-dimensional reality from two-dimensional projections. You can test your interpretive ...

After-Time

Christopher Hitchens, 19 October 1995

Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... grass is a stone slab, bearing the names and dates of birth of Vidal and his lifelong companion Howard Austen. The hyphens that come after the years (1925 and 1928 respectively) lie like little marble asps, waiting to keep their dates. Who knows what decided the cemetery authorities to advertise their prospective clients in this way? Elsewhere among the ...

‘Succession’

John Lanchester, 21 November 2019

... closeness.’ This storyline looks as if it is loosely based on Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones, proprietor of the Wall Street Journal. Quite a few plot lines from Succession are like that, half-pinched from real life: where Rupert Murdoch appeared in front of a parliamentary committee to declare it ‘the most humble day of my life’ in response to ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... Lawrence refuses to recognise virtue in anyone but himself’), and his sponsor David Pryce-Jones now finds F.R. Leavis much the same, so it may be legitimate to cite the famous excoriation of Bloomsbury that was voiced by Lawrence and amplified by Leavis: ‘they talked endlessly, but endlessly – and never, never a good thing said. They are cased ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine, 20 October 1994

Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... while much is known about such women as the Duchess of Portsmouth, Elizabeth Villiers, Henrietta Howard and the Countess of Warwick, no serious attempt has yet been made to write that alternative version of royal history which their lives and loves collectively constitute. In any such account, the life and love of Dora Jordan would occupy a place both ample ...

Terrorists? Us?

Owen Bennett-Jones, 7 June 2012

Terror Tagging of an Iranian Dissident Organisation 
by Raymond Tanter.
Iran Policy Committee, 217 pp., £10, December 2011, 978 0 9797051 2 0
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... American officials regularly speak at MEK-friendly events. They include Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Obama’s former national security adviser General James Jones and the former congressman Lee Hamilton. The rate for a speech is between $20,000 and $40,000 for ten minutes. Subject matter is not a concern: some ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... Wild West transposition of the medieval quest, in which a gunslinger goes in search of the elusive Howard Hughes (‘They say he moved to Vegas/or bought Vegas and/moved it./I can’t remember which’), accompanied by a narrating ‘I’ and a talking horse who paraphrases Heidegger. To find Dorn, the Black Mountaineer and poet of the American Dream ...

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