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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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... the balance between inadequate subsidy and the need for the box office to make up the shortfall has contributed to a no-nonsense, suck-it-and-see anti-intellectualism. For socialist playwrights like JohnArden 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 ...

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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... to be available. Perhaps duty is inescapable. Perhaps even God exists. The moral burden is resumed with some dignity and is used to structure an already excellent fiction. Silence among the Weapons, JohnArden’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 ...

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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... the helmets of the vanquished! Yet/Surely the moment when we came undone/Was not when they were smitten 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 ...

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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... known only to certain chemists and secretaries and the maids and butlers who lived in fear of them, 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 ...

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 ...

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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... manuscript could have been ‘stifled and lost to the world for above a century’. Some thought 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 ...
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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... coming into vogue; it was a term of abuse used about historians who were peddling anti-nationalist 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 ...

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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... in progress which will eventually form into the largely computerised OED3. In his visits to 37 St Giles 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 ...

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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... And there’s quite a lot of money at stake, too, in this particular piece of necrophony. Greenblatt’s 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 ...
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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... Mil-ward, Hughes probes Shakespeare’s Catholicism. Following Milward, he notes that his mother’s 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 ...

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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... beneath our feet, rumblings and burblings that might someday crack the earth, sliding Santa Monica 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 ...

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 ...

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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... for the sort of Shakespeare people wanted produced the forgeries of William-Henry Ireland in 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 ...

Whirligig

Barbara Everett: Thinking about Hamlet

2 September 2004
... or Francophile classicism which gained new purchase not much more than forty years after Shakespeare’s 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’ – ...

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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... from care, able to look and think.’ In Shakespeare, it is true, forests can sometimes function 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 ...

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