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The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James Goldsmith: The Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... ridiculous, and ultimately fictional. Ingrams to this day keeps a life-size cut-out figure of Sir James in his office – an appropriate touch, since the main result of the case (officially an expensive score-draw) was to turn Goldsmith into Goldenballs, the plump businessman into the cardboard villain. Geoffrey Wansell usefully restores a third dimension to ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: In the Ghost Library, 3 November 2011

... of what would once have been paperback sales are now digital books. Alongside the physical Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook is selling well. The iPad and iPhone come with Apple’s iBooks app. During last week’s Frankfurt book fair W.H. Smith announced it was to distribute an ebook reader called the Kobo (not to be confused with the Obok or the Koob, or ...


E.S. Turner, 3 July 1986

Augustus Hare: Victorian Gentleman 
by Malcolm Barnes.
Allen and Unwin, 240 pp., £20, May 1986, 9780049201002
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Midway on the Waves 
by James Lees-Milne.
Faber, 248 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 571 13723 7
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... all-seeing eye, Augustus seems to have sensed that God was a gentleman, for according to Malcolm Barnes’s biography, he asked: ‘Does God look through the keyhole?’ It has to be said that as an author and gentleman Hare would certainly have relished some fulsome adulation: instead of which he was accused, on the strength of his six-volume ...

I myself detest all Modern Art

Anne Diebel: Scofield Thayer, 9 April 2015

The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer 
by James Dempsey.
Florida, 240 pp., £32.50, February 2014, 978 0 8130 4926 7
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... partly because he did so little to promote himself. Before he took over the Dial, he wrote James Joyce a cheque for $700; it came to Joyce from his publisher with a note that read: ‘Please don’t imagine that America is full of rich young men of that kind!’ Thayer wasn’t modest, but he was discreet, especially compared to the most prominent New ...

The Great NBA Disaster

John Sutherland, 19 October 1995

... ground of American bookselling is occupied by three nation-wide chains: Crown, Waldenbooks and Barnes and Noble. America also has well-developed mail-order book-clubs (something that the NBA, with its special concern for high-street bookshops, successfully inhibited in 20th-century Britain). American book prices are not, to the browser’s ...

Summarising Oneself

Julian Barnes: Degas’s Vanity, 19 November 2020

The Letters of Edgar Degas 
edited by Theodore Reff.
Wildenstein Plattner Institute, 1464 pp., £150, June, 978 0 9988175 1 4
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... on ‘funded property’ at 53 Marine Parade with his wife, Charlotte; his 27-year-old nephew, James; and three servants. Less conventionally, he also lived with seven Degas paintings. In 1876 he bought four ballet pictures from the London branch of the Paris dealer Durand-Ruel, quickly followed by two more plus a picture then called Figures in a French ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... in the face of the permissive Sixties, Humanae Vitae and the abolition of National Service. Julian Barnes’s very much à la mode Metroland is divided into three sections: I Metroland (1963), II Paris (1968), III Metroland (1977). Current fashions apart, the narrative circuit is familiar from Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying: both novels record a young ...


Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... As the train trundles out of Glasgow Central, homesickness descends. Gray’s hero speaks for James Kelman and Agnes Owens – the collection’s other contributors – and for all writing north of the border ferociously indifferent to England and its literary culture: ‘I do not love Glasgow much, I sometimes actively hate it but I am at home here. In ...

A History

Allan Massie, 19 February 1981

The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... James Kennaway’s last book, the novella Silence, begins like this:     The doctor thought: I wish I could believe her. I wish I could take her story at face value. I wish I could accept what the Sister had to say. I wish I could say I were a simple man, but none of us can say that any more ... The doctor is in a movie-house which he soon leaves to go to his son-in-law’s club:     On Sunday afternoons, in the wintertime, the club organised concerts ...

Down among the press lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

The Life and Death of the Press Barons 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 288 pp., £12.50, December 1982, 0 436 06811 7
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... blandness’. Not while Rupert’s still around. And while Rupert’s still around (and Sir James, and Robert, and Tiny – and maybe even Victor: ‘I have the papers in which to give my views, but I think the House of Lords will be better’), reports of the ‘death of the press barons’ are somewhat exaggerated. The British certainly like to give ...

Return of the Native

Hugh Barnes, 7 March 1985

The Final Passage 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 205 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 571 13437 8
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Merle, and Other Stories 
by Paule Marshall.
Virago, 210 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 86068 665 5
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Heaven and Earth 
by Frederic Raphael.
Cape, 310 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 224 02294 6
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The Tenth Man 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780370308319
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... she discovered Thackeray, Dickens and Fielding, and, later, black writers (Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston) who informed her own experience and that of ‘the Race’. But more important to the young Marshall than the testimonies of the page were the stories she heard in the kitchen of her brownstone ...

Behind the Gas Lamp

Julian Barnes: Félix Fénéon, 4 October 2007

Novels in Three Lines 
by Félix Fénéon, translated by Luc Sante.
NYRB, 171 pp., £7.99, August 2007, 978 1 59017 230 8
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... the press’s traditional heartless sensationalism? Though they could, of course, be both. Clive James once cruelly rebuked an Observer subeditor who had sought to sharpen his prose style and improve his jokes with the remark, ‘Listen, if I wrote like that I’d be you.’ Félix Fénéon might be the perfect counter-example: the sub who wrote better than ...

At the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Julian Barnes: The Shchukin Collection , 19 January 2017

... statistics at the lower end: no Bonnards, one Vuillard, one Braque, one Burne-Jones tapestry, one James Paterson, one Auguste Herbin, two Frank Brangwyns, two Charles Guerins. That makes me feel better. It would be unbearable if, with all that money, a collector had entirely faultless taste. Though he did admit that the Burne-Jones was ‘a youthful ...

Saucy to Princes

Gerald Hammond: The Bible, 25 July 2002

The Book: A History of the Bible 
by Christopher de Hamel.
Phaidon, 352 pp., £24.95, September 2001, 0 7148 3774 1
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The Wycliffe New Testament 1388 
edited by W.R. Cooper.
British Library, 528 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 7123 4728 3
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... the impact on England as a whole of having the Book printed in English. They encountered Robert Barnes, a singularly entrepreneurial supporter of the Reformers’ movement. In the words of a deposition made by one of the Steeple Bumpstead men to the authorities who were hot on the tail of the peddlers of an English Bible, ...


Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... was, by the way, a more serious scholar than Sutherland makes out) and so did the next professor, James Sutherland, another devoted researcher. But after this rather lengthy lapse the old Gower Street concordat between scholarship and journalism was, against some dryasdust opposition, revived, and the most recent incumbents, myself, Karl Miller and John ...

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