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2 February 1984
The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... is: who reads these books and what purpose do they serve? I can imagine looking up a name in James Hart’s fifth edition of The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Updated to include ‘authors not yet born when this book was first begun’, it offers abbreviated commentaries on such newly arrived figures on the scene as Diane Wakoski ...
4 June 1981
The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... Among those who appeared there from time to time with a guest evidently not his wife was Rupert Hart-Davis. He was unique among those couples, with their faintly clandestine air, in boldly underlining his presence within the pub by parking outside the entrance a publisher’s van on the side of which was inscribed in large letters: RUPERT ...

Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim

16 December 2010
Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... collaborators) that he declared he was giving up theatre to write mystery novels. He rallied after James Lapine, a new collaborator, suggested doing something about Seurat and his painting of a Sunday afternoon at la Grande Jatte. That show ran for 604 performances, yet its ten Tony nominations led only to design prizes – there really is a Broadway faction ...

Educating the Blimps

Geoffrey Best: Military history

10 June 1999
Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart 
by Alex Danchev.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 297 81621 7
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Studies in British Military Thought: Debates with Fuller and Liddell Hart 
by Brian Holden Reid.
Nebraska, 287 pp., £30, October 1998, 0 8032 3927 0
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... Basil Liddell Hart was ‘the captain who taught generals’. His active participation in fighting was limited to three brief bursts during the First World War, the last and by far the worst ending with a nightmarish experience of panic and gas in Mametz Wood, on the Somme, which left him unfit for further front-line service ...

Awful but Cheerful

Gillian White: The Tentativeness of Elizabeth Bishop

25 May 2006
Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments 
by Elizabeth Bishop, edited by Alice Quinn.
Farrar, Straus, 367 pp., £22.50, March 2006, 0 374 14645 4
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... Human Abstract’. The Vassar archives hold references to many other writers and critics – Henry James, Hart Crane, as well as notes on modern art and scattered thoughts on narrative – that don’t make it into Quinn’s edition, and it would have been good to know more about her selection criteria. Small quarrels ...

Self-Extinction

Russell Davies

18 June 1981
Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... silently exacted by the rest or us who have no gift to exercise. Be the protagonist Van Gogh or James Dean, the message from the public is the same. We love you for your talent, but we will love you doubly for dying of it. The proof that we are better off without it is a comfort. It helps to make the complacency of an unrisked life that much more ...

Supermax

John Bayley

8 December 1988
The Letters of Max Beerbohm 1892-1956 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 244 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7195 4537 4
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The Faber Book of Letters 
edited by Felix Pryor.
Faber, 319 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 571 15269 4
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... Turner suggest quite a different view of the trial from the one Ellmann presents. It was not a cathartic and humbling metamorphosis for the poor victim but a smart triumph quite in his usual style. ‘Oscar has been quite superb. His speech about the Love that dares not tell its name was simply wonderful – and carried the whole court right away – quite a ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne

17 May 1984
Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... no such misgivings. Does this mean ceasing to discriminate between literature and yarns? Professor James Naremore, in Professor Bernard Benstock’s symposium, seems to imply that it does. Dashiell Hammett, he writes, ‘challenges the easy distinctions between popular and high art, and the critical language that normally sustains those ...

Persons Aggrieved

Stephen Sedley

22 May 1997
... it effect. Within a year Granville Sharp had returned to Lord Mansfield’s court with the case of James Somersett, another runaway slave who had been taken by force to a vessel moored in the Thames and bound for Jamaica. Mansfield this time grasped the nettle: ‘The state of slavery,’ he held, ‘is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced ...

Bull

Bernard Wasserstein

23 September 1993
Imperial Warrior: The Life and Times of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby 1861-1936 
by Lawrence James.
Weidenfeld, 279 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 297 81152 5
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...  ...

Funnelweb

Clive James

5 April 1984
... sun Fill up his tinted visor like white wine. Few poets get the face that they deserve Or, like Hart Crane, can travel in a tear. Of course Villeneuve was handsome anyway – The Rimbaud of the wheel just oozed romance – But where his class showed was in how that beast Ferrari drew sweet curves at his behest Instead of leading him St Vitus’ dance. He ...

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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... their own intertexts and in its margins ammunition to challenge the assumptions of their betters. James I detested it – ‘saucy to princes’ was his judgment on its notes – so he ensured that the 1611 Authorised Version contained no interpretative notes at all, which may be one reason it took two generations for the AV to displace it in the hearts and ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Equality Legislation

7 February 2019
... to Foundations of Indirect Discrimination Law (edited by Hugh Collins and Tarunabh Khaitan, Hart, £65), the US courts, employing the ‘because of’ formula, have always demanded proof of discriminatory intent, something easily denied and not always easily proved. UK law, though it builds (like EU law) on the American concept, has gone beyond intent ...

Was he? Had he?

Corey Robin: In the Name of Security

19 October 2006
The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government 
by David Johnson.
Chicago, 277 pp., £13, May 2006, 0 226 40190 1
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Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security 
by David Cole and James Dempsey.
New Press, 320 pp., £10.99, March 2006, 1 56584 939 6
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General Ashcroft: Attorney at War 
by Nancy Baker.
Kansas, 320 pp., £26.50, April 2006, 0 7006 1455 9
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State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration 
by James Risen.
Free Press, 240 pp., £18.99, January 2006, 0 7432 7578 0
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Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush 
by Eric Boehlert.
Free Press, 352 pp., $25, May 2006, 0 7432 8931 5
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... The ‘obstacles to information sharing were more bureaucratic than legal’, David Cole and James Dempsey write in Terrorism and the Constitution, and had little to do ‘with the constitutional principles of due process, accountability, or checks and balances’. But while the government rides roughshod over constitutional principles, it has done ...

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 ...

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