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Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... The Hazlitt of our time’, said the Manchester Guardian, announcing the death of James Agate in 1947. An extravagant compliment, but the famous theatre reviewer did have one or two of Hazlitt’s characteristics. Though his journalism now seems too pompous-frivolous even for the theatre world, his reports of actors’ performances are often vivid and persuasive: he was quite learned in his subject and could communicate his own enthusiasm, making drama seem important – more important, perhaps, than it seems to us today ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Ezra Pound in Italy, 23 October 2008

... Review in the 1960s. She liked to put writers in their place – Ezra Pound’s Kensington and James Joyce’s Dublin – and in Metato quickly found a priest who gave her a vivid sense of the camp in Pound’s day: electrified fences, ‘gibbet-like posts’, barbed wire, pup tents and towers with armed guards. ‘Nothing remained of the DTC,’ she ...

At the Royal Academy

Jeremy Harding: Botticelli, 5 April 2001

Botticelli's Dante 
Royal Academy, 360 pp., £48, March 2001, 0 900946 85 7Show More
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... a touch, her left leg braced under a sidling hip. The celebrity appearances by Adam and Saints James, John (Evangelist) and Peter take the form of little soul-flames, like the others, distinguished only by the tags inscribed beside them. The couple converse and pass on. We see the last of them as they rise through the river of light (Canto xxx). Beatrice ...

Incendiary Devices

Daniel Soar: The Edward Snowden Story, 20 February 2014

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man 
by Luke Harding.
Guardian Faber, 346 pp., £12.99, February 2014, 978 1 78335 035 3
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... and any phone call we make, is potentially being analysed by the NSA and its friends. But, as Luke Harding discloses in his book on the Snowden affair, the most viewed story in the Guardian’s history wasn’t any of this: it wasn’t a piece of news at all. It was the 12-minute video, made by Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, in which Snowden explained who ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Spook Fiction, 3 August 2006

... failing country of the 1950s and 1960s’ was ‘propped up … by the monarchy, the Beatles and James Bond’. You may not like the wall-to-wall assertion of decline, but Winder is proposing what he calls ‘an entertainment’ involving ‘British themes’, not a history. A more ‘entertaining’ tour of 007, and the period associations that get sucked ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Erratic Weather, 11 April 2013

... against pessimism he is sceptical about massive geo-engineering schemes of the kind put forward by James Lovelock and the eccentric Stewart Brand. Can-do projects on a grand scale have been dreamed up before: draining the Mediterranean into the Sahara, for instance, or diverting warm Pacific water into the Arctic Sea and turning Siberia into a vast ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: ‘Inside the Dream Palace’, 6 February 2014

... the great Ellington protégé, was living there – presumably composing – in the 1990s. James Schuyler arrived in 1979 and wrote out his last years there. The Chelsea’s presiding spirit in the 19th century was Philip Gengembre Hubert, the son of a French Fourierist who took him to America as the New World phalansteries were breaking up. Hubert, a ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... Biafra through Kissinger in South Africa (HK to Vorster: ‘I’m only here for De Beers’) via James Goldsmith, Robert Maxwell, Rupert Murdoch, to Mugabe, Bush and Blair. For fans of a pensionable age, Verwoerd’s assassination (‘A Nation Mourns’, 17 September 1966) is a star cover. Younger readers may prefer a ghoulish photo of Norman Tebbit, the ...

At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: ‘Migrations’, 8 March 2012

... conundrums of Tate Britishness. She is looking at the same tangle of questions explored by Jeremy Harding in his essay ‘Europe at Bay’ in the LRB of 9 February. Coming at the politics of migration via the experience of an Afghan refugee waiting to enter Britain, Harding also took us through its philosophical ...


Sylvia Clayton, 5 April 1984

Something Out There 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Cape, 203 pp., £8.50, March 1984, 0 224 02189 3
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My Search for Warren Harding 
by Robert Plunket.
Robin Clark, 247 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 86072 071 3
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West of Sunset 
by Dirk Bogarde.
Allen Lane, 248 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 9780713916324
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... says in his foreword, anything can happen and anything and everything does. My Search for Warren Harding, Mr Plunket’s first novel, is described on the jacket as ‘The Aspern Papers somehow performed by the Brothers Marx’. The bones of the plot do come from the same Henry James novella currently on view as a play at ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age, 21 June 2001

The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... father, wrongly, claims his great-granddaddy was). In the unrevised version, an elderly Senator, James Burden Day, a recurring character, is surprised to discover himself still capable of arousal: ‘at a time when he thought himself altogether free of the demands of the flesh, he had become like a boy again, or almost.’ In the rewritten version, ‘it ...


Jeremy Harding: Ash Dieback, 6 December 2012

... wouldn’t have known what an ash tree looked like but I knew that such a thing existed from M.R. James. ‘The Ash Tree’ is a sinister tale, set at the end of the Restoration, about a woman found cutting twigs from an ash tree, tried as a witch, hanged and buried: she migrates back to the veteran specimen of fraxinus excelsior on the land of the squire who ...


Jason Harding: George Moore, 21 September 2000

George Moore, 1852-1933 
by Adrian Frazier.
Yale, 604 pp., £29.95, May 2000, 0 300 08245 2
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... 1926. A large part of the problem was Moore’s summary dismissal of contemporaries such as Hardy, James and Conrad. Jealous of his literary fame, Moore was aptly described by Joseph Hone as ‘the least catholic of critics’. It is easy to underestimate how unpleasant it could be to meet so eccentric and belligerent a figure as Mr Moore. His compulsion to ...

Hindsight Tickling

Christopher Tayler: Disappointing sequels, 21 October 2004

The Closed Circle 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 433 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 670 89254 8
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... occurs’. His schoolfriends – Philip, a conscientious plodder; Doug, a worldly left-wing wit; Harding, an anarchic practical joker; and Steve, an athlete and the only black pupil – are more enterprising, as are their counterparts from the girls’ school over the road. Benjamin spends most of the novel mooning over the needy but beautiful Cicely and not ...


Patrick Parrinder, 23 November 1989

Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... has to offer might have been more accurately if less enticingly labelled Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding. Hollywood fits rather curiously into Vidal’s saga of American political history. Chronologically it is the sequel to Empire (1987) but also the predecessor of Washington DC, the novel set in the 1940s with which Vidal started the sequence more than ...

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