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22 April 1993
Behind Closed Doors 
by Irving Scholar and Mihir Bose.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 0 233 98824 6
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Sick as a Parrot: The Inside Story of the Spurs Fiasco 
by Chris Horrie.
Virgin, 293 pp., £4.99, August 1992, 0 86369 620 1
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Gary Lineker: Strikingly Different 
by Colin Malam.
Stanley Paul, 147 pp., £12.99, January 1993, 0 09 175424 0
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... the Hummel shirt fiasco and numerous other flashy brainwaves – most of them issuing from Irving Scholar in his Monaco tax haven. When Spurs sold Chris Waddle to Marseilles for four and a half million pounds, fans large and small whinged in the streets, or on the East Stand scaffolding, and they whinged some more when it was revealed that the ...

Tel’s Tale

Ian Hamilton

24 November 1994
Venables: The Autobiography 
by Terry Venables and Neil Hanson.
Joseph, 468 pp., £16.99, September 1994, 0 7181 3827 9
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... well have been rather less complicated.’ Another Venables bogey-man is Sugar’s predecessor, Irving Scholar: ‘Irv the Swerve’, with his ‘well-polished front’ and his ‘tangled web of secret and irregular loans and deals’. Scholar’s own autobiography, Behind Closed Doors, was anti-Tel, so this is ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann

7 July 1994
Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... and D.H. Lawrence as Larkin’s main men, refers to the ‘crappy brainwaves’ of Spurs chairman Irving Scholar and the ‘uncolourful speech’ of Andrew Motion, putting me immediately in mind of the ‘brown teapot’ in his Arvon Prize-winning poem of 1990, ‘A Letter’. This lapidary gift is served, perversely and surprisingly, by wonderful ...

Jack and Leo

John Sutherland

27 July 1989
The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... you have the unofficial version. Two of the editors of this new edition of the letters are London scholars; the third – Milo Shepard – is London’s descendant and the present owner of the estate. On the face of it, the alliance is ominous. The London-Shepard family has not in the past encouraged the inquisitive ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone

1 October 1998
Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... realism, once a belief, is now an idle liberty. Writers such as Robert Stone, Joan Didion, John Irving and even Don DeLillo, are praised for their ‘realism’, for the solidity of their plots, the patience of their characterisation, the capillary spread of their social portraits, the leverage of their political insight. Robert Stone is one of the best ...

His Generation

Keith Gessen: A Sad Old Literary Man

19 June 2008
Alfred Kazin: A Biography 
by Richard Cook.
Yale, 452 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 0 300 11505 5
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... New York Herald Tribune, New York Times Book Review, then Commentary, the New Yorker, the American Scholar, and on and on. The book review turns out to be the family business: Kazin’s sister Pearl also became a notable reviewer. There is a very funny description, in Starting Out, of sitting on the ‘mourner’s bench’ at the New Republic offices on West ...

Every Latest Spasm

Christopher Hitchens

23 June 1994
A Rebel in Defence of Tradition: The Life and ‘Politics’ of Dwight Macdonald 
by Michael Wreszin.
Basic Books, 590 pp., £17.99, April 1994, 0 465 01739 8
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... of man.’ And to Hannah Arendt in 1962 (I owe this to Carol Brightman, the incisive McCarthy scholar) she chortled over the conceit that Dwight was a hoax, or a species of ambulant practical joke, on himself and others. ‘Quite a funny idea ...’ she wrote, ‘that Dwight is a kind of self-made invention or impersonation masquerading as ...

Liquidator

Neal Ascherson: Hugh Trevor-Roper

19 August 2010
Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Weidenfeld, 598 pp., £25, July 2010, 978 0 297 85214 8
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... a Tory and never realised that they were electing a Whig.’ Mrs Thatcher imagined that the scholar who had written The Last Days of Hitler would share her hostility to a reunified Germany. But at the infamous Chequers meeting on Germany in 1990, Trevor-Roper faced her down and tore her arguments to pieces. The historian John Habakkuk was an editor of ...

Mutual Friend

Richard Altick

22 December 1983
Lewis and Lewis 
by John Juxon.
Collins, 320 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 00 216476 0
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... Bleak House. But it might equally well be John Juxon, describing George Lewis. Lewis was no legal scholar. But if he was not unusually learned in the law, he was, judging from the demand for his services once his reputation was established, a brilliant strategist. His peers often brought him their particularly troublesome cases, and the greatest barristers of ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams Made it Work

9 December 2019
The Man who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’ and the Writing Life 
by Charles Shields.
Texas, 305 pp., £23.99, October 2018, 978 1 4773 1736 5
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Nothing but the Night 
by John Williams.
NYRB, 144 pp., $14.95, February 2019, 978 1 68137 307 2
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... pretentious’ – and he had a solid local reputation. Being ‘one of the more brilliant artist-scholars in the Rocky Mountain region’, as Williams’s department chair had recently described him, might not have seemed so impressive in New York. But his experience with Butcher’s Crossing, which was marketed as a western against his wishes and then wiped ...
10 May 2007
William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... and doggedly commonsensical approach to the text, still exerts a palpable influence on Shakespeare scholars: Jonathan Bate’s introduction to this new edition of the Complete Works makes regular appeals to Johnson’s authority and Johnson’s precedent. The differences between the circumstances and the procedures of the two editions, however, are at least as ...
16 July 1998
Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life 
by Nathalie Blondel.
McPherson, 539 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 929701 55 0
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The Taverner Novels: ‘Armed with Madness’, ‘Death of Felicity Taverner’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 18 6
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The Classical Novels: ‘The Macedonian’, ‘Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 384 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 42 9
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‘Ashe of Rings’ and Other Writings 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £18.50, March 1998, 0 929701 53 4
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... in the avant-garde’s most prestigious venues – the transatlantic review, the Dial, Pagany. For scholars of the period she has long been something of a ‘man in a brown macintosh’, unmistakably present at the Modernist moment, yet oddly unidentifiable. These new editions and the biography should change that. Scarcely a month after the birth of her ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley

8 February 2001
Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... the hypotheses she does entertain are mere hypotheses. Her biography is level-headed, thorough, scholarly and consistently sympathetic to its subject without lapsing into hagiography. It is also lively and well-written. The notorious conundrums are all faced. Did Claire Clairmont at any of a number of possible points have an affair with Shelley? Who were ...
21 December 1989
The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust and German National Identity 
by Charles Maier.
Harvard, 227 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 674 92975 6
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Historikerstreit 
Piper, 397 pp., DM 17.80, July 1987, 3 492 10816 4Show More
In Hitler’s Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past 
by Richard Evans.
Tauris, 196 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 1 85043 146 9
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Why did the heavens not darken? 
by Arno Mayer.
Verso, 510 pp., £19.95, October 1989, 0 86091 267 1
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A German Identity, 1770-1990 
by Harold James.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £16.95, March 1989, 9780297795049
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Die Republikaner: Phantombild der neuen Rechten 
by Claus Leggewie.
Rotbuch, 155 pp., May 1989, 3 88022 011 5
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Ich war dabei 
by Franz Schönhuber.
Langen Müller, 356 pp., April 1989, 3 7844 2249 7
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... show that doctrinaire Marxism is the last obstacle on Germany’s road to democracy. An American scholar, Charles Maier of Harvard, has followed the historians’ dispute and written a commentary on it. The nonce word in his title raises expectations of originality which the book doesn’t fulfil. His summaries of the main contributions are useful, fair, and ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth

23 March 2006
Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... in a printed symposium on ‘The Most Neglected Books of the Past 25 Years’. In 1964, Irving Howe described it in the New York Times Book Review as ‘one of the few genuinely distinguished novels written by a 20th-century American’. Saul Bellow’s Herzog topped the bestseller list that year; Bellow had already won a National Book Award, as had ...

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