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Comprehensible Disorders

David Craig, 3 September 1987

Before the oil ran out: Britain 1977-86 
by Ian Jack.
Secker, 271 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 436 22020 2
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In a Distant Isle: The Orkney Background of Edwin Muir 
by George Marshall.
Scottish Academic Press, 184 pp., £12.50, May 1987, 0 7073 0469 5
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... The item which seems set to stay longest with me from Ian Jack’s alert and precisely-written record of British life in the Seventies and Eighties comes from the opening memoir of his father, which supplies a deeper soil, or subsoil, to the son’s coverage of more recent matters for the Sunday Times and (since Wapping) the Observer: Few of his workplaces survive ...

Slices of Toast

Ruth Padel, 8 March 2007

... for Ian Jack Lying in bed in the dark without heating. December 3rd and feeling warm, almost too warm, I hear the window give that rattle-burp it only ever does when the wind is fierce outside. Black raindrops flame on the glass. Light from across the back gardens, one lone yellow oblong, someone up early on a winter morning ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Nephews and Daughters, 23 January 2003

... programme tried to get a dispute going between Philip Hensher (37), one of the chosen writers, and Ian Jack (57), the editor of Granta and chair of the judges, after Hensher said he thought it was silly and arbitrary that novelists had to be under 40 to be considered, and that it should be more important that they’re new than that they’re young. ...


Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... what had possessed me to move. The last books pages I’d worked on at the Observer lay beside me (Ian Hamilton and Ted Hughes on the life of Sylvia Plath, Alison Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie on Graham Greene, Claire Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary ...

Yeats and the Occult

Seamus Deane, 18 October 1984

The Mystery Religion of W.B. Yeats 
by Graham Hough.
Harvester, 129 pp., £15.95, May 1984, 0 7108 0603 5
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Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry 
by Cairns Craig.
Croom Helm, 323 pp., £14.95, January 1982, 9780856649974
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Yeats. Poems 1919-1935: A Selection of Critical Essays 
edited by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £14, July 1984, 0 333 27422 9
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The Poet and his Audience 
by Ian Jack.
Cambridge, 198 pp., £20, July 1984, 0 521 26034 5
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A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 543 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 333 35214 9
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Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £17, August 1984, 0 333 36213 6
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... a public that learned to be more enchanted by his insolence than pleased by his ingratiation. Ian Jack, in the last chapter of his book The Poet and his Audience, shows in detail the remarkable symbiosis between Yeats’s conquest of his audience and his conquest of himself. Of all the poets he surveys – Dryden, Pope, Byron, Shelley and Tennyson ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Hatchet Jobs, 11 September 2003

... who is sometimes prepared to find fault (assuming this is done with a modicum of intelligence). Ian Jack, the editor of Granta, writing in the Guardian last year, came up with the following paradox: ‘Nobody who has struggled in front of a screen or paper for three years deserves a pasting written in half a day by a 23-year-old, though the pasting ...

Forget the Klingons

James Hamilton-Paterson: Is there anybody out there?, 6 March 2003

Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life 
by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart.
Ebury, 369 pp., £17.99, September 2002, 0 09 187927 2
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XTL: Extraterrestrial Life and How to Find It 
by Simon Goodwin and John Gribbin.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £12.99, August 2002, 1 84188 193 7
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... They are combative on this point, and so united that they frequently refer to themselves as ‘Jack&Ian’. To this winsome dyad the notion of astrobiology is limiting in that it stands for astronomy as seen from Earth plus Earth-style biology, so that its thinking is governed by anthropic concerns such as the search for ...


Sean French: Fortress Wapping, 6 March 1986

... platter, the dispute may prove hard to resolve. Wednesday is greatly enlivened by the presence of Ian Jack, who is one of the best journalists left on the paper. Ian voted to go to Wapping, went straight there, but subsequently, driven by journalistic curiosity, spent more of the week in Gray’s Inn Road than most of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels, 23 August 2001

... odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last.’) Responding to Marr’s comments, Ian Jack, the editor of Granta, suggested that it would be more accurate to say there was a ‘lull’. Since, then, Robert McCrum, the literary editor of the Observer, has discussed the question more than once in his column, ‘The World of Books’. And in ...

A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 4 August 1988

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... The results have their own sort of fascination. Without being invidious, it must be said that Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler are making a collection as sumptuous as Aladdin’s cave, wonderfully easy to read, and with introductions as absorbing as the poems and plays have now become. There is even an appendix printing on opposite pages two versions of a ...

Damp Souls

Tom Vanderbilt, 3 October 1996

Snow Falling on Cedars 
by David Guterson.
Bloomsbury, 316 pp., £5.99, September 1996, 0 7475 2266 9
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The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind 
by David Guterson.
Bloomsbury, 181 pp., £5.99, January 1996, 0 7475 2561 7
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... unmediated small town settings; and turning to the past, either historical or familial’ – what Ian Jack calls the ‘Norman Rockwellisation of the novel’. With most of America living in cities or densely populated suburbs, the turn to small towns in so much recent fiction is striking. What happened to the suburban novel of a generation ago? John ...

Not Entirely Like Me

Amit Chaudhuri: Midnight at Marble Arch, 4 October 2007

The Reluctant Fundamentalist 
by Mohsin Hamid.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £14.99, March 2007, 978 0 241 14365 0
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... people I admired, and mistaken for another Indian contributor, the late Raj Chandavarkar, by Ian Jack. I ate canapés, searched for something to say to Frank Kermode, and had a glass of red wine. I generally feel neither one way nor another about drinking, but my listlessness about consuming alcohol offends only Indian acquaintances, not Western ...

What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... the myths and rituals of the British state, but a blasé indifference to the impact of policy. As Ian Jack pointed out in these pages last year (15 June 2017), the expat perspective seems to play an important role in the psychology of Brexit. Hannan and Carswell both had expatriate childhoods. Astute observers, such as the writer Gary Younge, have argued ...

Look here, Mr Goodwood

John Bayley, 19 September 1996

Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Puzzles in 19th-Century Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Oxford, 262 pp., £3.99, June 1996, 9780192825162
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... expects that the reader should see him. And here we are very much in the dark: not for nothing has Ian Jack, its meticulous editor, noted that ‘Wuthering Heights is one of the most enigmatic of English novels.’ Much depends on how Emily Brontë imagined her hero, as well as very skilfully creating him, and covering her authorial tracks. I would say ...

Britain’s Asians

Neil Berry, 29 October 1987

... to be a disappointed Labour candidate for the Tory-held seat of Brent North, told the journalist Ian Jack that Gujarati are too preoccupied with caste rivalry and feuding to give any attention to wider issues. And there are certainly Gujarati so wrapped up in making money as to have little time for anything else. Yet most Gujarati are mindful of the ...

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