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Necessary Bishop

John Robinson, 3 July 1980

Ahead of his Age: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham 
by John Barnes.
Collins, 487 pp., £12.95, November 1979, 0 00 216087 0
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... up the Establishment. One such who was to rise higher and stay longer than most was Ernest William Barnes (1874-1953), for nearly thirty years Bishop of Birmingham, an office to which he was nominated by Ramsay MacDonald, who also appointed Hewlett Johnson as ‘red’ Dean of Canterbury. Barnes’s career could scarcely ...

Why Do the Tories Always Have the Luck?

Peter Clarke, 23 February 1995

Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball.
Oxford, 842 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 19 820238 5
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... riven with ideological dispute and internecine factionalism faces electoral disadvantages. As John Barnes brings out in his urbane essay on ideology and factions, Conservative ideology has rested in part on a scepticism about the adequacy of ideology itself. In this sense, neither the fervent Tariff Reformers of the early part of the century, nor the ...

Mount Amery

Paul Addison, 20 November 1980

The Leo Amery Diaries 
edited by John Barnes and David Nicholson, introduced by Julian Amery.
Hutchinson, 653 pp., £27.50, October 1980, 0 09 131910 2
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... Politics are three-quarters drudgery, so it takes a special ingredient to enliven the diary of a politician. Harold Nicolson and Chips Channon wrote splendid diaries because they were not so much politicians as sublime social columnists who happened to sit in the House of Commons. Richard Crossman and Barbara Castle were heavyweights and professionals, and the eternal grind of committee life is reflected in their accounts ...

Institutions

Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... success, and ending with some surprisingly detached reflections on Mrs Thatcher from the pen of John Vincent. As a final savoury, Tony Benn, Michael Fraser, David Marquand and David Butler sum up the entire era. The argument starts with the first and by some way the best piece in the collection, Paul Addison’s essay on ‘The Road from 1945’. Addison ...

Born of the age we live in

John Lanchester, 6 December 1990

Stick it up your punter! The Rise and Fall of the ‘Sun’ 
by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 434 12624 1
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All played out: The True Story of Italia ’90 
by Pete Davies.
Heinemann, 471 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 434 17908 6
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Gazza! A Biography 
by Robin McGibbon.
Penguin, 204 pp., £3.99, October 1990, 9780140148688
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... of his ability ever completely to conquer the French language (‘I’ll never speak perfect’); John Barnes is also co-operative; Gary Lineker is the nicest person in the world. But you already knew that. There are one or two moments in All played out when Davies’s blokily street-wise rhetoric starts to grate, but that’s hardly surprising in a book ...

Lawful Charm

Donald Davie, 6 July 1995

Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, edited by Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 171 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 042379 6
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Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, read by Alan Chedzoy.
Canto, £6.99
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... Barnes’s poems prompt no new questions about poetry, and no new convictions about it. The hoariest truths about poetry will always be new and questionable to some people, especially those (they are many) who think that poetry is a certainty-free zone from which, because ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth,’ all categorical assertions are debarred as dogmatic, as ‘prescriptive ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... whole event in some sane perspective? They cannot retreat into a grand carelessness until they are John le Carré or John Fowles. They might begin, however, by running through the list of previous winners and working out how many of the last 19 would feature in any ‘true’ list of Top 19 Novels 1969-87. They might observe ...

Twinkly

Theo Tait: Beyond the Barnes persona, 1 September 2005

Arthur & George 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 360 pp., £17.99, July 2005, 0 224 07703 1
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... everywhere and visible nowhere.’ For most of his career, the celebrated Flaubertian Julian Barnes has occupied the opposite end of the spectrum: less a transcendent creator than a garrulous master of ceremonies, unwilling or unable to prevent himself interrupting the proceedings. As John Bayley put it a few years ...

Half-Timbering, Homosexuality and Whingeing

Ian Sansom: Julian Barnes, 1 October 1998

England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... authenticity, but is itself something of a poser. This is, I’m sure, entirely by design: Julian Barnes is a writer who knows how to spot a fake. Last year, on 15 September, for example, in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana, the New Yorker ran a series of articles in praise of the Princess. Clive James put on the most astonishing performance, in a ...

The Browse Function

John Sutherland, 27 November 1997

Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide Web 
by Evan Schwartz.
Penguin, 244 pp., £11.99, October 1997, 9780140264067
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... that two book-retailers can legally trademark the ‘earth’s biggest’ claim. One is the Barnes and Noble octopus, with 25,000 employees, franchised outlets in every mall in North America and a $3 billion annual turnover. The other, Amazon.com (‘Amazon-dot-com’), is a bookless high-tech office in Seattle, with a mere five hundred employees, and ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... is he/she overrated? – they would quickly decline into paranoia. When Robert Frost died, John Berryman’s first response was It’s scary. Who’s Number One? Who’s Number One? Cal’s Number One, isn’t he? – which at least has the virtue of transparency. But as we modestly (and necessarily) insist that we’re just writers at work on our ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... Not long after Ezra Pound, the precocious Djuna Barnes arrived in Paris already equipped with a style derived from the Jacobean dramatists and French post-symbolist poets, and so with as good a claim as any to be counted among the founders of Modernism. In 1936 T. S. Eliot warmly sponsored Nightwood, and one has heard since that her vision of Hell can be traced as an influence in Nathanael West and Malcolm Lowry, and her sort of Gothic fantasy in John Hawkes ...

Like choosing between bacon and egg and bacon and tomato

Christopher Tayler: The Wryness of Julian Barnes, 15 April 2004

The Lemon Table 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 213 pp., £16.99, March 2004, 9780224071987
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... Julian Barnes’s new book of short stories is concerned with old age and death. Barnes – who was born in 1946 – should have a few years to go before he experiences either condition, but his fiction has always been precociously interested in both. He visited the afterlife, in the person of a cartoon suburbanite, in A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989 ...

The Great NBA Disaster

John Sutherland, 19 October 1995

... In 1851 the trade referred its dispute to a tribunal headed by the author and judge Lord John Campbell. His decision was delivered on 19 May 1852 and published in its entirety by the triumphant Times. Campbell came down uncompromisingly for free trade. The Regulations, they said, were indefensible, and contrary to the freedom which ought to prevail ...

Dr Love or Dr God?

Luc Sante: ‘The Man in the Red Coat’, 5 March 2020

The Man in the Red Coat 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 280 pp., £20, November 2019, 978 1 78733 216 4
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... The man​  in the title of Julian Barnes’s eighth work of non-fiction is the Parisian physician Samuel Pozzi. The red coat, or perhaps it’s a dressing-gown, is what he is wearing in the 1881 portrait by John Singer Sargent, Dr Pozzi at Home. It is a swashbuckling, very theatrical portrait, one that would make anyone curious about its subject ...

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