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Those rooms had life

Sameer Rahim: The Yacoubian Building, 10 May 2007

The Yacoubian Building 
by Alaa al-Aswany, translated by Humphrey Davies.
Fourth Estate, 255 pp., £14.99, February 2007, 978 0 00 724361 7
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... also perhaps because the book was already too well known. The novel itself was published in 2002. (Humphrey Davies translated the book into English in 2004: the film’s success is what has drawn British publishers’ attention.) Al-Aswany was born in Cairo in 1957. He was educated at a French school and learned English at an early age. A graduate course ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... sceptical about the conduct of the war and when pressured refused to send troops. On 1 March 1965, Humphrey Trevelyan, a member of the UK mission at the UN, wrote to Wilson that he had ‘attended a CIA briefing last Friday afternoon’ which had demonstrated ‘pretty conclusively’ that ‘the Americans are in a hopeless position in South Vietnam.’ Wilson ...

Exasperating Classics

Patricia Craig, 23 May 1985

Secret Gardens 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 235 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 04 809022 0
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Reading and Righting 
by Robert Leeson.
Collins, 256 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780001844131
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Pipers at the Gates of Dawn 
by Jonathan Cott.
Viking, 327 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80003 1
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... Peter Llewelyn Davies, one of J.M. Barrie’s ‘Lost Boys’, in later life called Peter Pan ‘that terrible masterpiece’. Brigid Brophy, having reread Little Women and its sequels, dried her eyes and blown her nose, resolved that ‘the only honourable course was to come out into the open and admit that the dreadful books are masterpieces ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones, 1 March 1984

Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... comes a beautifully contrived set of parodies of traditional English ghost stories. Robertson Davies (author of many plays and novels, The Manticore being the best-known over here) has been Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto, and his High Spirits is a compilation of the ghost stories he used to offer, instead of an after-dinner ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... to determine the tone of the presentation, the rhythm and contrasts of each evening’s schedule? Humphrey Carpenter’s detailed account suggests that the mandarins of the mid-Forties got the Third Programme right straight off. The BBC’s Director-General, William Haley, credited himself with having created the network by two decisions. Programmes should ...

In the Chair

Edward Said, 17 July 1997

Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and the Tragedy of Genius 
by Peter Ostwald.
Norton, 368 pp., $29.95, May 1997, 0 393 04077 1
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When the Music Stops: Managers, Maestros and the Corporate Murder of Classical Music 
by Norman Lebrecht.
Simon and Schuster, 400 pp., £7.99, July 1997, 0 671 01025 5
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... in impersonations of the boxer Dominico Patrono, the actor Myron Chianti, the musicologist Sir Humphrey Price-Davies, the conductor Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornwaite. Part of his very expensive self-consciousness was a way of keeping an eye on his own tics and foibles and somehow indulging the volatility of his usually ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... when one’s baby-sitter is a cabinet minister one realises one is really old! 21 May 1997. Howard Davies is appointed chairman-designate of ‘SuperSIB’ (or, as it is later christened by Gordon Brown, the Financial Services Authority), as much to his surprise as everyone else’s. He had been on his way to South America in his capacity as deputy governor of ...

Waves of Wo

Colin Burrow: George Gascoigne, 5 July 2001

A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres 
by George Gascoigne, edited by G.W. Pigman.
Oxford, 781 pp., £100, October 2000, 0 19 811779 5
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... was imprisoned for debt in Bedford jail in 1570. In an effort to improve his fortunes he joined Humphrey Gilbert’s expedition to the Netherlands in 1572, and spent the next couple of years shuttling between England and the Low Countries. Several battles later, most of which were disasters, he was suspected by both the Dutch and English of having ...

Happy Man

Paul Driver: Stravinsky, 8 February 2007

Stravinsky: The Second Exile – France and America 1934-71 
by Stephen Walsh.
Cape, 709 pp., £30, July 2006, 0 224 06078 3
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Down a Path of Wonder: Memoirs of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Other Cultural Figures 
by Robert Craft.
Naxos, 560 pp., £19.99, October 2006, 1 84379 217 6
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... well as its extraordinary freshness, had an enormous influence on composers such as Peter Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle. All these late works – right up to Stravinsky’s final masterpiece, Requiem Canticles (1966), which has the wintry radiance of late poems by Wallace Stevens – owe their existence to a significant extent to the presence of ...

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