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His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell, 2 December 2010

J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... look like imbeciles. But, the first page: I wrote it twice, satisfactory neither time. J.G. Farrell – a Liverpool-born, Oxford-educated writer of Anglo-Irish descent – was living in New York when he wrote these words in his diary on 18 March 1967. He was 32 and had published three novels, A Man from Elsewhere (1963), The Lung (1965) and A Girl in ...

The Matter of India

John Bayley, 19 March 1987

... Narrative can make fantasy out of stirring past events, or it can make pseudo-epic. Does J.G. Farrell take the Celtic line in The Siege of Krishnapur, and Paul Scott follow a more plodding and literal Anglo-Saxon formula in the four-novel sequence of The Raj Quartet?There might be something in that. I suspect, for one thing, that those who cannot read ...

Tribal Lays

D.J. Enright, 7 May 1981

The Hill Station 
by J.G. Farrell.
Weidenfeld, 238 pp., £6.50, April 1981, 0 297 77922 2
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... for it is good work, certainly in no obvious need of revision. Perhaps, compared with J.G. Farrell’s previous three novels, The Hill Station (as its editor, John Spurling, decided to call it) might be termed ‘light’, but only in that the writing is less dense, less effortful in the reading, than is the case with the Irish Troubles and, more ...


Stephen Wall, 12 March 1992

Ever After 
by Graham Swift.
Picador, 261 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 330 32331 8
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... he hasn’t become a historical novelist in the way that, say, the late and still lamented J.G. Farrell did. Immersion in the past is never complete (we know, of course, that it never can be); the point of departure remains explicitly in the present. Swift’s characters pursue their researches with such intensity because they have urgent and personal ...


Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... chooses, or is compelled, to make some independent valuations. Speaking of Paul Scott, J.G. Farrell and V.S. Naipaul in relation to the death of Empire, he expresses a special enthusiasm for the last-named. Then come people for whom he has apparently no more than a cautious respect, but who are important because of their period role, which is to ...

Lovers on a Train

Susannah Clapp, 10 January 1991

by Patricia Highsmith.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0719 8
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... quality. When Bainbridge was first shortlisted for the Booker in 1973, the prize was won by J.G. Farrell for The Siege of Krishnapur; this year it went to A.S. Byatt’s Possession. Both these good winners were rightly praised for the largeness of their historical reach. Bainbridge’s scenes are more claustrophobic – both drabber and more dire. But small ...

Booker Books

Frank Kermode, 22 November 1979

... much significance in the list – perhaps there’s a nostalgia for the old Empire (Scott, J.G. Farrell, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, plus Nadine Gordimer, Naipaul, and P.H. Newby on Suez). Negatively, you won’t expect, and won’t find, anything that looks very ‘experimental’. Muriel Spark must have come up again and again, sometimes against what, looking ...

Benign Promiscuity

Clair Wills: Molly Keane’s Bad Behaviour, 18 March 2021

Good Behaviour 
by Molly Keane.
NYRB, 291 pp., £12, May, 978 1 68137 529 8
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... name. Between 1926 and 1952 she wrote eleven novels and several popular West End farces as M.J. Farrell. Keane liked to explain that she stole the name from a sign she saw over a pub when she was out hunting, and even if this wasn’t strictly true it was apt. Hunting, horse shows, form and fences are pivotal in nearly all her plots. Conversation Piece ...

A Man of No Mind

Colm Tóibín: The Passion of Roger Casement, 13 September 2012

The Dream of the Celt 
by Mario Vargas Llosa and Edith Grossman.
Faber, 404 pp., £18.99, June 2012, 978 0 571 27571 7
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... which included many subplots and escapades, needs a comic novelist such as Evelyn Waugh, J.G. Farrell or indeed the Mario Vargas Llosa of The Time of the Hero or Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter rather than this ponderous stylist. In Germany Casement hoped to meet Irish prisoners of war filled with the same spirit of romantic nationalism and idealistic ...
... in, and some talented authors have found them. One brilliant example was furnished by J.G. Farrell in The Siege of Krishnapur, a novel teeming with ideas that is set in India at the time of the Sepoy Mutiny and has an exciting plot as well. Farrell’s motto might have been stated thus: If because of ideas and other ...

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