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On the Feast of Stephen

Karl Miller: Spender’s Journals

30 August 2012
New Selected Journals, 1939-95 
by Stephen Spender and Lara Feigel, edited by John Sutherland.
Faber, 792 pp., £45, July 2012, 978 0 571 23757 9
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... eminence kindly characterised, eventually, in John Sutherland’s biography.* Nevertheless, a suspicion persisted. Sharp little verses – by Thom Gunn and John Coleman – were flighted; and Ian Hamilton capped it all with a brilliant and damaging New Yorker profile. Stephen grew used to being abused. He abused himself. He could seem generous and long-suffering, but could hardly be blamed ...


Ian​ Sansom: Dave Eggers

16 November 2000
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 
by Dave Eggers.
Picador, 415 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 0 330 48454 0
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... to come as second nature, and is no reason for shame or misgivings. In another recent example of that pseudo-autobiographical mode in which Americans excel, The Tao of Muhammad Ali (1997), Davis Miller recalled a conversation with Ali: ‘I’ve wanted to write for years. Like you, when you threw your gold medal off the bridge, I threw my beeper in the river and quit my job so I could write ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s

18 July 2013
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... the popular and the well-known. The essay collections Declaration and Conviction – by Angry Young Men and what was then christened the Leftover Left, respectively – are seen as milestones. Ian Hamilton is referred to for his feat as a schoolboy editor in persuading celebrated writers to contribute to his magazine. His afterlife came later as afterlives do, and is missing from the book. So ...

English Changing

Frank Kermode

7 February 1980
The State of the Language 
edited by Leonard Michaels and Christopher Ricks.
California, 609 pp., £14.95, January 1980, 0 520 03763 4
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... language is going to hell in a basket. It is usual to relate the ruin of the language to a more general social or cultural collapse, as Ben Jonson did, and this view is intemperately represented by Ian Robinson. He holds that the decline of the ceremonious style in the House of Commons is a clear indication of national decadence in this ‘century of the common man, of the “media”, and a “ ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller

25 April 2013
... Margaret Thatcher is the third most written about person in the ‘LRB’ archive, after Shakespeare and Freud. Here Karl Miller’s memories of the paper in her day are accompanied by extracts from some of the pieces published at the time. On the morning Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, the lesser lights of ...
19 May 1983
Robert Lowell: A Biography 
by Ian​ Hamilton.
Faber, 527 pp., £12.50, May 1983, 0 571 13045 3
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... and reputations of the great, while managing to make people feel that it is itself the work of a great man, however bashful, stumbling and dishevelled. It is the work of a tyrannicide subject, in Ian Hamilton’s words, to ‘tyrant delusions’. Lowell was a pacifist who was able, at moments, to praise the ideology of the master race. Mischievously mad or mischievously sane, it was hard to tell ...
7 November 1985
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian​ Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... bound files of the New York Review of Books, and more impressed still that he had extracted these from the editor as part-payment. Perhaps contributors to the LRB could work the same trick on Karl Miller, who for this anthology hands over to Nicholas Spice, who in turn sensibly makes sure that Karl Miller’s long essay about the LRB heads the list of contents. This essay is to be relished, not least ...


Ian​ Hacking

11 June 1992
First Person Plural: Multiple Personality and the Philosophy of Mind 
by Stephen Braude.
Routledge, 283 pp., £35, October 1991, 0 415 03591 0
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... have resorted to the Doppelgänger of romantic literature, well enough covered in past issues of the London Review, and analysed in that amazingly many-layered book Doubles by its co-editor, Karl Miller. But something new and strange has been happening in North America – a veritable epidemic of multiple personalities. It began about 1972. It was called an epidemic by one psychiatrist in an essay ...
8 May 1986
Parliamentary Debates: Hansard, Vol. 95, No 94 
HMSO, £2.50Show More
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... to all concerned’. This was a speech which made it easier than ever to regret the Labour Party’s inability to take Healey as its leader. An outstanding speech of similar purport came from Sir Ian Gilmour. ‘The chief consideration,’ he said, ‘is the utter futility of opposing terrorism with counter-terror. Israel has proved that repeatedly during the past twenty years and we have always ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers

16 July 2014
... Mirror because of his skill at hacking and that he played his new editor a voicemail hacked from the phone of the actor Daniel Craig. According to Evans, after hearing the message, left by Sienna Miller, Coulson exclaimed ‘Brilliant,’ while another executive told him: ‘You’re a company man now.’ For days, Langdale pounded Evans: he was a liar, a drug user, and his account of the Miller ...

Karl Miller​ Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan

22 October 2014
... who never knowthat dying is what, to live, each has to do.Neal AschersonTo younger readers​ , the idea of being a famous literary editor may seem oxymoronic. That, however, is exactly what Karl Miller was. As a result, it was possible to be well-briefed about Karl before meeting him for the first time. This was thanks to Clive James’s introduction to his collection Visions before Midnight. James ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris

18 July 2013
The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... people dying.’ Nonetheless, it was undoubtedly a strong influence on Peter Cook (one of the original cast members) and the other three-quarters of the Beyond the Fringe team (Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore), who would go on to present their own take on the nuclear threat, in a sketch called ‘Civil War’.In that sketch, a worried Moore listens trustingly as a succession of posh ...

Cheering us up

Ian​ Jack

15 September 1988
In for a Penny: The Unauthorised Biography of Jeffrey Archer 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 241 12478 6
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... the press clippings need more than a skim. The best summary of the difficulties facing an Archer biographer came from the lips of Mary Archer herself, when she observed some years ago to Russell Miller of the Sunday Times Magazine that her husband had ‘a gift for inaccurate précis’. Laurence Marks elaborated on this aside in one of his excellent unsigned profiles for the Observer in 1984: All ...

Keeping Score

Ian​ Jackman: Joe DiMaggio

10 May 2001
Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life 
by Richard Ben Cramer.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 684 85391 4
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... cheering,’ she said. DiMaggio replied: ‘Yes I have.’ The marriage was immediately a disaster. As soon as they got back from their honeymoon Monroe told a friend, ‘I’m going to marry Arthur Miller,’ and eventually she did. She left DiMaggio when he beat her up after she’d filmed the scene in The Seven-Year Itch where her dress is blown up over her head as she stands on a subway grate. Yet ...

Soul to Soul

Ian​ Buruma

19 February 1987
The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness 
by Peter Dale.
Croom Helm, 233 pp., £25, September 1987, 0 7099 0899 7
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... the West, but merely engaging in a novel version of the ancient art of oblique discourse.’ Dale has, I think, successfully followed in the footsteps of other Nihonjinron-bashers such as Roy Andrew Miller, the author of Japan’s Modern Myth (1982), in proving that the Japanese are not as unique as they think. This, in itself, would not be proving very much. What else does Dale have to say? Two things ...

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