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The Great Escape

Philip Purser

18 August 1994
The Fortunes of Casanova, and Other Stories 
by Rafael Sabatini, selected by Jack Adrian.
Oxford, 284 pp., £15.95, January 1994, 9780192123190
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... the effusions of – well, write in your own candidates from today’s bestseller lists. What does seem to be less predictable is the process that will sometimes restore a lost household name. JackAdrian is a professional resurrectionist originally specialising in crime and adventure fiction. Lately he has expanded to take in other genres, but his hunting ground – or boneyard – is still popular ...

Impossible Wishes

Michael Wood: Thomas Mann

6 February 2003
The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann 
edited by Ritchie Robertson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £45.50, November 2001, 9780521653107
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Thomas Mann: A Biography 
by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 7139 9500 9
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... brilliantly exploded? Could there be a Modernism that looked like its opposite? There is a remarkable piece of dialogue on just this subject in Dr Faustus, although the ostensible topic is music. Adrian Leverkühn, the German composer-hero of the novel, receives a visit from the Devil – whether he is an independent agent or a manifestation of Adrian’s illness would alter many things, but not the ...

Rite of Corruption

James Wood: Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’

21 October 2010
Room 
by Emma Donoghue.
Picador, 321 pp., £12.99, July 2010, 978 0 330 51901 4
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... many times its normal size. Abnormal normality is the operating principle of Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, which is a kind of prison-lit lite. Based on the Josef Fritzl case, it is narrated by Jack, a five-year-old American, whose mother was abducted at the age of 19 and imprisoned in a single room measuring 121 square feet. She is now 26. The boy’s mother is regularly visited by her abductor ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe

23 May 1996
The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian​ Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... was an alcoholic and possibly a spy, and that the paper itself was deadly dull. The only previous extended discussion of the Statesman’s first years was Edward Hyams’s ‘house’ history. Adrian Smith makes a fuller attempt to place the early New Statesman in its various political and intellectual contexts and relates the fortunes of the small-circulation political weekly to the seismic ...

Diary

Ruth Padel: Singing Madrigals

29 November 2007
... by the British in 1592. Weelkes’s dedication to the book containing ‘Thule’ makes one of the earliest Shakespearean allusions, to Henry VI, Part 2. ‘Away with him! He speaks Latin,’ Jack Cade says in Act IV. ‘If Jack Cade were alive,’ Weelkes says, ‘yet some of us might live: unlesse we should think, as the Artisans in the Universities in Poland and Germany thinke, that the ...

Through Plate-Glass

Ian Sansom: Jonathan Coe

10 May 2001
The Rotters’ Club 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 405 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 670 89252 1
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... they cannot express, let alone fulfil. Benjamin, for example, is working towards ‘some grand artefact, either musical, or literary, or filmic, or perhaps a combination of all three’. He’s like Adrian Mole. He is everyone. It’s pathetically funny. Coe’s work is routinely described as comic, but it is not routinely comic. The humour occurs either in elaborate set pieces, or in occasional ...

Diary

Stephen Sedley: Judges’ Lodgings

11 November 1999
... obliges. It was a civic obligation, probably a hellish one, to accommodate the judges – in Durham in the bishop’s palace; in Cambridge in the Trinity College Master’s lodge, where in Lord Adrian’s first term the less than lovable Mr Justice Melford Stevenson returned for lunch on the first assize day and placed his decomposing wig on the stand in the entrance hall. Lady Adrian came upon it ...

Into the Eisenshpritz

Elif Batuman: Superheroes

10 April 2008
Life, in Pictures: Autobiographical Stories 
by Will Eisner.
Norton, 493 pp., £18.99, November 2007, 978 0 393 06107 9
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Epileptic 
by David B..
Cape, 368 pp., £12.99, March 2006, 0 224 07920 4
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Shortcomings 
by Adrian​ Tomine.
Faber, 108 pp., £12.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23329 8
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Misery Loves Comedy 
by Ivan Brunetti.
Fantagraphics, 172 pp., £15.99, April 2007, 978 1 56097 792 6
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... assimilation. In one spread, set in the Eisner & Iger studio, the cartoonists discover that they are nearly all Jewish. Eisner has changed their names, but a glossary at the back provides the key: ‘Jack King’ (né Klingensteiner) is based on Jack Kirby (né Jacob Kurtzberg), co-creator of Captain America and The Fly; ‘Ken Corn’ is based on Bob Kane (né Kahn), creator of Batman. The ...
13 July 2016
The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian​ Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... I suppose.’ He caved in and perhaps regretted it, for the weekends with their associated guests and amusements made possible the affair with Wallis Simpson and so led eventually to the abdication. Adrian Tinniswood, whose book combines a panoramic view of life and architecture in the interwar years with pin-sharp detail and the sort of springy prose that comes with a complete command of the material ...

Imperfect Knight

Gabriel Josipovici

17 April 1980
Chaucer’s Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary 
by Terry Jones.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 297 77566 9
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Chaucer, Langland and the Creative Imagination 
by David Aers.
Routledge, 236 pp., £9.75, January 1980, 9780710003515
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The Golden Age: Manuscript Painting at the Time of Jean, Duc de Berry 
by Marcel Thomas.
Chatto, 120 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7011 2471 7
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... his tale is a merging of individuals into a corporate identity, and what I suspect the Parson’s Tale is trying to achieve is the presentation of that authoritative voice which is not the voice of Jack or Jill but of an entire community. It is probably true that Chaucer was, like Mozart and unlike Bach or Stravinsky, better at representing the dramatic clash of individual voices than the merging of ...
28 September 1989
Waverley Place 
by Susan Brownmiller.
Hamish Hamilton, 294 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12804 8
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... lawyers took full advantage of the ‘alternate hearing’ in the corridor. Unlike the district attorneys who studiously passed through the corridor without comment, defence counsels Ira London and Adrian DiLuzio joked and postured before the cameras, showed off their expensive suits and coifs, and broadcast views of the case that were inadmissible in the courtroom. Most egregiously, London announced ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder

18 November 1993
The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... an embarrassment and the pound sterling about to disappear into the jaws of the ecu, patriotic rhetoric is beginning to find itself short of subject-matter. And if Dickens, Shakespeare and the Union Jack are now to be the main symbols of our Great Britishness, the politics of nostalgia can expect to meet with a continuing resistance from those charged with passing on literary knowledge to the next ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: On the trail of Arthur Cravan

9 March 2006
... Surrealists, who acclaimed him a pioneering figure. He was, André Breton said, a ‘barometer’ of the avant-garde. As a heavyweight boxer, his career peaked in 1916, when he fought the formidable Jack Johnson in Barcelona. He lasted six rounds. These two strands of Cravan’s career are not as diverse as one might think: his stance as a writer was extremely combative – confrontation and ‘anti ...

Bunnymooning

Philip French

6 June 1996
The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... him Jeremy, for he was a friend of mine for some years and was the godfather of my eldest son. I first met Jeremy in December 1954, at the end of our first term, when the editor-designate of Isis, Adrian Mitchell, appointed me as the next term’s deputy news editor and Jeremy as one of his two Union reporters (the other being Christopher Driver). I knew him by reputation. There were people quite as ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB

20 January 2005
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... summed up as ‘globalisation’. If ‘the nation’s’ history, as represented here, begins with a hoax, it ends even less encouragingly. The last entry, in terms of date of death, is Sir Jack Jacob (1908-2000, ‘barrister and jurist’), who died on 26 December 2000, but the last to be born are, soberingly, Stephen Adrian Lawrence (1974-93, ‘murder victim’) and James Patrick Bulger ...

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