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Dubliners

Charles Lysaght, 20 March 1980

Dublin made me 
by C.S. Andrews.
Mercier Press, 312 pp., £9, November 1979, 0 85342 606 6
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Home before Night 
by Hugh Leonard.
Deutsch, 202 pp., £5.25, October 1979, 0 233 97138 6
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... a greater understanding of the historical roots of that state and the outlook of those who ran it. Hugh Leonard is a successful modern Irish playwright. Born in 1926, he belongs to a later generation than Todd Andrews. He was brought up as the foster child of working-class parents in the village of Dalkey on the south side of Dublin Bay. In Home before ...

Diary

Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... writings of Patrick Kavanagh, Brian Friel, Tim Pat Coogan, Oliver St John Gogarty, Neil Jordan and Hugh Leonard. It’s a method that seems to be at once academically sound and, for those committed to a long weekend in England and Wales carrying only one bag and one book, perfect for a bit of one-way crack, or ‘entertaining conversation. Ir craic is the ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... Iain Crichton Smith, is now a sprightly 68. Watson’s model is not the Oxford or the Penguin, but Hugh MacDiarmid’s Golden Treasury of Scottish Poetry, first published in 1940 and reissued by Canongate in 1993. This was the first anthology of Scottish poetry to recognise that the term should include verse in Gaelic and Latin as well as in English and ...

Superchild

John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... enough. Always hurry. I am now going in, to see L. and say stay this moment. Her going in to see Leonard, and murmur to him her version of the line from Faust, moves us more than the idea itself. Ever since the Romantics the notion of being a passive recorder, a chameleon, a Proteus of the fire and flood, a vessel of negative capability, had not ceased to ...

Scottish Men and Scottish Women

Jenny Turner, 27 June 1991

The Burn 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 244 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 436 23286 3
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Blood 
by Janice Galloway.
Secker, 179 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 436 20027 9
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... new Glasgow writing’, a movement taken to involve man of pairts Alasdair Gray and poet Tom Leonard as well as Kelman and Galloway, to open on a sort of pen-Polaroid of the city of Glasgow itself. But nothing could be more inappropriate to the spirit of the writing. Turn to the stories collected in The Burn and in Blood: a powerful sense ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Spengler

Tom Nairn, 24 January 1980

An Unfinished History of the World 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 700 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 241 10282 0
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... version of German Idealism. He invented cultures to illustrate a grandiose master-plan of destiny. Hugh Thomas’s anti-philosophy of history is English empiricism gone mad. He dissolves cultures into a kind of common, jocular mud in order to show that all those theories about destiny are a bit much. History is actually chaps doing their best, often against ...

Just Like Cookham

Neal Ascherson: Stanley Spencer in China, 19 May 2011

Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 591 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 19 954193 5
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... Friendship Association, an organisation firmly loyal to the Communist regime. Professor Leonard Hawkes, the leader of the delegation, was a geologist famous for pointing out that England was slowly tilting into the North Sea. The novelist and translator Rex Warner had been a left-winger in his youth but was now a comfortably-off, convivial ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... of the Horned Magdalene’ is a black comedy about furious turn-over in an old people’s home. Leonard Deane-King combines Science Fiction and fairy-tale in ‘Good Intentions’ – a story which will appeal to admirers of Spielberg’s E.T. – when Chaz and Len find a friendly Martian in the backyard. Mark Illis’s ‘Loomis’ describes an encounter ...

Dark Strangers, Gorgeous Slums

Philip Horne, 16 March 1989

Off the Rails: Memoirs of a Train Addict 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Bloomsbury, 193 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0011 8
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The Marble Mountain, and Other Stories 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 126 pp., £10.95, January 1989, 9780224025973
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The Bathroom 
by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated by Barbara Bray.
Boyars, 125 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 7145 2880 3
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Motherland 
by Timothy O’Grady.
Chatto, 230 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 7011 3341 4
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A Lesser Dependency 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 146 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 333 49093 2
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... to modern children the origins of the English race in alliance and friendship between the Saxon Hugh and the Norman invader Sir Richard, O’Grady, whose political opinions are mostly unlike Kipling’s, brings home to his infantile though middle-aged detective-clairvoyant hero the origin of his Irish family in a vision of the lyrical coupling of the Norman ...

Ruined by men

Anthony Thwaite, 1 September 1988

The Truth about Lorin Jones 
by Alison Lurie.
Joseph, 294 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 7181 3095 2
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Latecomers 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 248 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 224 02554 6
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Where the rivers meet 
by John Wain.
Hutchinson, 563 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 9780091736170
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About the Body 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 193 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 436 09784 2
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Stories 
by Elizabeth Jolley.
Viking, 312 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 670 82113 6
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... art critic, who can still make or break reputations; and, after the end of that marriage, Hugh Cameron, a poet of little reputation, with whom Lorin had some sort of affair down in Key West before her premature death. Polly is quite sure that Jones is ‘an old-fashioned male chauvinist’, and almost equally sure that Cameron is an exploiter, a ...

Bogey’s Clean Sweep

Michael Holroyd, 22 May 1980

The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... to a dead wife. But the plucking out of harsh views on friends and fellow writers (as with Leonard Woolf’s and James Strachey’s edition of Virginia Woolf’s correspondence with Lytton Strachey) was inevitable. The truth is that Murry added nothing to Katherine’s writing that was not already there, that he made her popular, and that he kept her ...

Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim, 16 December 2010

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... on West Side Story (1957), where he worked in lofty company – writer Arthur Laurents, composer Leonard Bernstein and director Jerome Robbins. The show was not just a hit but a turning point in musical theatre. Today, Sondheim feels he sometimes had the Jets and Sharks speaking too archly or poetically – his aim is to write natural, conversational ...
The Socialist Agenda 
edited by David Lipsey.
Cape, 242 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 224 01886 8
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The Future of Socialism 
by Anthony Crosland.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 224 01888 4
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Politics is for people 
by Shirley Williams.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 230 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 7139 1423 8
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... Committee of the SDP are all, so to speak, born-again Labour revisionists – old disciples of Hugh Gaitskell and Tony Crosland, who have spent their political lives fighting the fundamentalists on the Labour Left. Painfully, reluctantly and at different speeds, we have all been forced to recognise that that battle cannot be won inside the Labour ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle, 15 October 1998

Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... are the absent fathers. Poor Agnes Bowker of Market Harborough, deserted by Randall Dowley and Hugh Brady, blamed a monster for her pregnancy in 1569 and claimed to have given birth to a cat. The champion cad was Francis Lane, who in 1608 promised to marry Rose Arnold, got her pregnant, tried to push her down a well and claimed another man was the ...

The Left’s Megaphone

Eric Hobsbawm, 8 July 1993

Harold Laski: A Political Biography 
by Michael Newman.
Macmillan, 438 pp., £45, March 1993, 0 333 43716 0
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Harold Laski: A Life on the Left 
by Isaac Kramnick and Barry Sheerman.
Hamish Hamilton, 669 pp., £25, June 1993, 0 241 12942 7
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... that surrounded him, and which led British officials to refer to him as a ‘snivelling Hebrew’, Hugh Dalton to call him ‘an undersized Semite’ and a Conservative obituary ‘an alien mind imbued and impregnated with an alien philosophy’. Yet the effort to make himself look, all his life, like ‘an enfant terrible among admiring onlookers’ (Lionel ...

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