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Showman v. Shaman

David Edgar: Peter Brook, 12 November 1998

Threads of Time 
by Peter Brook.
Methuen, 241 pp., £17.99, May 1998, 0 413 69620 0
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... contributed to a no-nonsense, suck-it-and-see anti-intellectualism. For socialist playwrights like John Arden and Edward Bond, the consequence, in one case, is external and in the other a form of internal exile. But the most noted instance of the prophet rejecting his own country is the director Peter Brook who, having forged a glittering career in the ...

Passion

Anita Brookner, 7 October 1982

The President’s Child 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 220 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 340 24564 6
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Silence among the Weapons 
by John Arden.
Methuen, 343 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 413 49670 8
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The Facilitators, or Mister Hole-in-the-Day 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 173 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 7100 9214 8
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Pleasure City 
by Kamala Markandaya.
Chatto, 341 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 7011 2617 5
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Worldly Goods 
by Michael Korda.
Bodley Head, 347 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 370 30932 4
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Dutch Shea Jr 
by John Gregory Dunne.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £7.50, September 1982, 0 297 78164 2
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... some dignity and is used to structure an already excellent fiction. Silence among the Weapons, John Arden’s first novel, deals with the mysterious and violent contortions which led up to the disintegration of the Roman Republic in the first century BC. The leading characters are Marius, Sulla, Cinna, Drusus and Mithridates Eupator, except that they ...

Each Scene for Itself

David Edgar: The Brecht Centenary, 4 March 1999

War Primer 
by Bertolt Brecht, edited by John Willett.
Libris, 170 pp., £35, February 1998, 1 870352 21 1
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Brecht in Context: Comparative Approaches 
by John Willett.
Methuen, 320 pp., £12.99, February 1998, 0 413 72310 0
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Brecht and Method 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 184 pp., £19, November 1998, 1 85984 809 5
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... from our heads/But when we first agreed to put them on’). As well as translating War Primer, John Willett, co-editor of the new Collected Works, has revised his volume of essays, Brecht in Context. Although hostile to John Fuegi’s argument, set out in The Life and Lies of Bertolt Brecht (1994), that Brecht’s ...

Rinse it in dead champagne

Colm Tóibín: The women who invented beauty, 5 February 2004

War Paint: Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth ArdenTheir Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry 
by Lindy Woodhead.
Virago, 498 pp., £20, April 2003, 1 86049 974 0
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Diana Vreeland 
by Eleanor Dwight.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £30, December 2002, 0 688 16738 1
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... who survived long enough to tell and tell again the shocking truth, for example, that Elizabeth Arden, one of the world’s richest women, lined the inside of her shoes with newspaper, or that Helena Rubinstein’s lawyer chose ‘the budget option’ at the funeral parlour after her death until wiser counsel prevailed, or that Diana Vreeland’s hair was ...

Stalking Out

David Edgar: After John Osborne, 20 July 2006

John Osborne: A Patriot for Us 
by John Heilpern.
Chatto, 528 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 7011 6780 7
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... From within a few weeks of its opening in May 1956, it’s been accepted that John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger ushered in a theatrical revolution. Launching both the Angry Young Man and kitchen-sink drama, the play is held to have had a devastating and irreversible impact on a postwar theatre scene dominated by winsome drawing-room comedies and witless country-house whodunnits ...

Sticktoitiveness

John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... and his evidently courteous exchanges with recent custodians of the project (Robert Burchfield, John Simpson, Edmund Weiner) Willinsky detects a quaint mixture of ‘afternoon tea and high-speed computer searches’. His conclusion is friendly, but a little condescending: ‘All told, the OED’s literary, prosaic and omitted citations authorise a ...

New Ways of Killing Your Father

Colm Tóibín, 18 November 1993

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 305 pp., £22.50, October 1993, 0 7139 9095 3
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... views of Irish history. The most seriously revisionist text, however, to appear in those years was John Banville’s Birchwood, a novel published in 1973, the year of Ireland’s entry into the EC. Here, Irish history was an enormous joke, a baroque narrative full of crack-pot landlords and roaming peasants and an abiding sense of menace and decay. In 1975, in ...

Cardenio’s Ghost

Charles Nicholl: The Bits Shakespeare Wrote, 2 December 2010

The Arden Shakespeare: Double Falsehood 
edited by Brean Hammond.
Arden Shakespeare, 443 pp., £16.99, March 2010, 978 1 903436 77 6
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... they discerned the ‘colouring’ and ‘diction’ of Shakespeare’s younger contemporary John Fletcher, rather than Shakespeare himself, in the play. Others objected that as for ‘the tale of this play being built upon a novel in Don Quixote, chronology is against us, and Shakespeare could not be the author.’ This last, at least, Theobald was able ...

Who wouldn’t buy it?

Colin Burrow: Speculating about Shakespeare, 20 January 2005

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Cape, 430 pp., £20, October 2004, 9780224062763
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... biography is, as I write, ranked 271 in Amazon’s UK sales list (41 in the US), while the Arden edition of King Lear is ranked 13,791 (309,493 in the US). People are a lot more likely to buy books about Shakespeare’s life than they are to buy books by Shakespeare. The money generated in this way never gets through to Mr Shakespeare, of ...

Plots

Stephen Bann, 4 November 1982

The Prince buys the Manor 
by Elspeth Huxley.
Chatto, 216 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 7011 2651 5
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Faultline 
by Sheila Ortiz Taylor.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 7043 3900 5
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Scenes from Metropolitan Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 214 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 333 34203 8
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Constance, or Solitary Practices 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 394 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11757 0
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Mickelsson’s Ghosts 
by John Gardner.
Secker, 566 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 17251 8
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Beware of pity 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Phyllis Blewitt and Trevor Blewitt.
Cape, 354 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 02057 9
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... and the Pacific Palisades into the sea like so many biscuits off the cookie sheet of existence.’ Arden Bembow, heroine of the aptly titled Faultline, does not have to experience this final cataclysm. But she does have to cope with the prospect of a more modest one. An ill-advised neglect of the breeding habits of the family pets results in wild ...

Protestant Guilt

Tom Paulin, 9 April 1992

Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 517 pp., £18.99, March 1992, 0 571 16604 0
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... family, the Ardens, were strongly Catholic, and that the head of the Warwickshire branch, Edward Arden, was first implicated in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth I, then tried and executed. As a result, official persecution of Catholics in the area was renewed. Hughes notes that Shakespeare’s father, John, was a ...

Whirligig

Barbara Everett: Thinking about Hamlet, 2 September 2004

... death, minority but important voices declare that they don’t care for shows. In 1661 John Evelyn noted that ‘the old plays’ like Hamlet were starting ‘to disgust this refined age’, and a decade later Dryden felt that the play smelled ‘a little too strongly of the buskin’ – the archaic theatrical boot. These are English Restoration ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... the 1790s (which included a letter from Elizabeth I thanking him for his ‘prettye Verses’) and John Payne Collier in the 1830s and 1840s (which showed Shakespeare to have been a well-connected member of metropolitan literary circles from an early stage). But for Shapiro the real villain is Edmond Malone. The usual story is that Malone, as he himself ...

Adam to Zeus

Colin Burrow: John Banville, 11 March 2010

The Infinities 
by John Banville.
Picador, 300 pp., £7.99, March 2010, 978 0 330 45025 6
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... There’s a revealing slip near the start of John Banville’s new novel. Ursula Godley, whose husband lies dying upstairs, reflects on her son and daughter: ‘These are the creatures she carried inside her and gave birth to and fed from her own breast, phoenix-like.’ A phoenix can never feed its young because there is only ever one of it at a time ...

In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

TheShakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... as places of pastoral refuge from the cares and brutal competition of society, as the Forest of Arden does for Duke Senior and his exiled companions in As You Like It: there they can ‘fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world’. Indeed in his Treatise and Discourse of the Lawes of the Forrest (1598), the fittingly named ...

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