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In Service

Anthony Thwaite, 18 May 1989

The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... sinister mother and son, Sylvia and Norman: both of them sound as if they are just off-stage in a Joe Orton play. There follow activities of the sort named in Rose Boyt’s title, and a cycle of birth, marriage and death documented with a curiously impressive and distasteful laconic relish. Possibly Rose Boyt is about to become the George Gissing of our ...

The Court

Richard Eyre, 23 September 1993

The Long Distance Runner 
by Tony Richardson.
Faber, 277 pp., £17.50, September 1993, 0 571 16852 3
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... or Caryl Churchill’s plays directed by Max Stafford-Clark, or the plays of Christopher Hampton, Joe Orton, David Hare, Howard Brenton, Athol Fugard or Sam Shepard. The tradition of unmannered acting, devotion to the text, unostentatious direction, simple and expressive design has been maintained. So also, until recently, has the sectarian fervour with ...

Punk-U-Like

Dave Haslam, 20 July 1995

The Black Album 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1995, 0 571 15086 1
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The Faber Book of Pop 
edited by Hanif Kureishi and Jon Savage.
Faber, 813 pp., £16.99, May 1995, 0 571 16992 9
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... and the weekly music press, as well as from more outré authorities on pop music (such as Joe Orton) and a few anti-pop pieces (by Paul Johnson and Richard Hoggart, among others). Liveliest and most useful are the contemporary reports documenting specific occasions: Elvis Presley recording ‘Hound Dog’, Decca turning down the Beatles, the ...

Swanker

Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... cut-throat games of vocabulary-flashing and cultural reference pinned down by Harold Pinter and Joe Orton as Britain’s post-war national sport. Tynan, a bookish, unathletic boy, made this kind of competition his own. A compulsive player of word-games, he spattered his early writing with challenges to duels of literacy. A flip through his first ...

Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud, 9 October 2003

Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur Rimbaud: Presence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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Rimbaud 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... deracinated Frenchman and a composite English anti-establishment figure, part Artful Dodger, part Joe Orton. At the same time, he is brought utterly to life in a way that fallen angels can never be, because they are finally a little dull. The result is superb, vivid, and possibly true. One gasps at Rimbaud’s militant genius and the purity of his ...

Bad John

Alan Bennett: John Osborne, 3 December 1981

A Better Class of Person 
by John Osborne.
Faber, 285 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 571 11785 6
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... of Dorothy L. Sayers, ‘to be read behind closed doors’. Though without necessarily taking Orton’s other piece of advice – namely, to ‘have a good shit while reading it’. Osborne, like Orton, had a bleak childhood (or would like us to think so). Both had weak chests and both spent a brief period learning ...

A Common Assault

Alan Bennett: In Italy, 4 November 2004

... not, I had not even spotted. Some of these considerations I dramatised in the screen adaptation of Joe Orton’s biography, Prick Up Your Ears. (Orton sees a youth coming) Orton: Look at the package on this. He’s lovely. Halliwell: (frantically) Where? Where? ...

Sometimes a Cigar Is More Than a Cigar

David Nokes, 26 January 1995

The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500-1800 
edited by Lynn Hunt.
Zone, 411 pp., £24.25, August 1993, 9780942299687
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... on making himself almost literally the father of the nation? Reading this essay I was reminded of Joe Orton’s comments when the Lord Chamberlain blue-pencilled the use of Sir Winston Churchill’s penis in What the Butler Saw, substituting a metonymous cigar. ‘What am I saying?’ Orton protested. ‘That he had a ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... the staff, had managed to smuggle them back onto the shelves. But in 1962 their luck ran out and Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell were prosecuted for defacing the property of Islington Borough Council. Was it this case, plentifully written up in the national press, that gave Philip and Monica their wicked idea? Or did he take his cue from the more ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... and innovative as that of any previous period.’ A shared perception of Bellow, Pynchon, Orton, Heaney, Fowles and Vonnegut as men of the moment or at least of the decade gives a common tone to the critiques of Bradbury and his team, and the slim volumes of the ‘Contemporary Writers’ series interact as the chapters of the Pelican Guide fail to ...

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