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Evil Days

Ian Hamilton

23 July 1992
The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia 
by John Carey.
Faber, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1992, 0 571 16273 8
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... no sooner arrived than it had come under the control and guidance of a new set of tribal chiefs, with Lord Northcliffe and the editor of Tit-Bits at its head. There had rapidly come into being what JohnCarey describes as ‘an alternative culture which bypassed the intellectual and made him redundant’. It was a culture that used itself up as it went along, but its audience could be numbered in ...

Donne’s Will to Power

Christopher Ricks

18 June 1981
John​ Donne: Life, Mind and Art 
by John Carey.
Faber, 303 pp., £9.50, May 1981, 0 571 11636 1
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... Donne’s powers are, for JohnCarey, a matter of power, the poems being ‘the most enduring exhibition of the will to power the English Renaissance produced’. The praises of Donne in this critical work of amazing flair and obduracy ...

Yearning for the ‘Utile’

Frank Kermode: Snobbery and John Carey

23 June 2005
What Good Are the Arts? 
by John Carey.
Faber, 286 pp., £12.99, June 2005, 0 571 22602 7
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... JohnCarey, former Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford, an authority on Milton and Donne and Dickens and others, the very model of a Merton Professor, has also been, for decades, the chief reviewer ...
12 November 1987
For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... a slasher – though there is a very severe notice of the autobiographies of Anthony Powell and Peter Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers and editors do the work he wants to help ...
20 November 1980
English Renaissance Studies 
edited by John Carey.
Oxford, 320 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 19 812093 1
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... In his preface to this celebratory volume of essays presented to Dame Helen Gardner on her 70th birthday, JohnCarey apologises for the fact that the topics discussed are restricted to 16th and 17th-century English literature. Dame Helen’s latest book, after all, was The Composition of ‘The Four Quartets ...

Cold-Shouldered

James Wood: John Carey

8 March 2001
Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books 
by John Carey.
Faber, 173 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 571 20448 1
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... JohnCarey’s new book, like his last one, The Intellectuals and the Masses, is a little swizzle-stick perfectly designed for flattening airy literary bubbles. Surprisingly, it is likable, wise and often right ...
20 August 1981
Working with Structuralism 
by David Lodge.
Routledge, 207 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 7100 0658 6
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... is an ignorant folly, but at the same time allow that it is here practised by a critic commonly thought to be in the same class as oneself. Reviewers solved their problem in various ways. JohnCarey, in the Sunday Times, explained first that whoever thinks there is anything in structuralism except one or two points that are already obvious is in need of ‘sedation and devoted nursing’. Lodge ...
1 June 2000
The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy 
by Russell Jacoby.
Basic Books, 256 pp., £17.95, April 1999, 0 465 02000 3
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Utopias: Russian Modernist Texts 1905-40 
edited by Catriona Kelly.
Penguin, 378 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 14 118081 1
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The Faber Book of Utopias 
edited by John Carey.
Faber, 560 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780571197859
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The Nazi War on Cancer 
by Robert Proctor.
Princeton, 390 pp., £18.95, May 1999, 0 691 00196 0
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... absence of utopian imagination in a book that loudly decries the failure to think boldly about a different future, there is no dearth of attempts to do so in the recent anthologies edited by JohnCarey and Catriona Kelly. Like all such collections of snippets from a wide variety of sources, they inevitably reflect their editors’ predilections rather than a canonical list of candidates for ...

Theophany

Frank Kermode: William Golding

5 November 2009
William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... JohnCarey has had access to voluminous archives stored in the Faber basement or in the keeping of William Golding’s family. No one else may see them; he alone can quote from unpublished novels, journals ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst

20 August 1981
Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John​ Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... taste for Raine’s work has been a conspicuous feature of British literary life during the last three years. Soloists with the chorus of praise have been distinguished and influential: Peter Porter, JohnCarey, John Bayley – and Raine himself has by no means been indisposed with laryngitis. His position in literary journalism and his access to the popularising media have played their part in his ...

Puffed Wheat

James Wood: How serious is John​ Bayley?

20 October 2005
The Power of Delight: A Lifetime in Literature: Essays 1962-2002 
by John​ Bayley, selected by Leo Carey.
Duckworth, 677 pp., £25, March 2005, 0 7156 3312 0
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... In their very different ways, the three most prominent Oxford professors of English since the war have all been populist pretenders. JohnCarey, scourge of Modernist ‘intellectuals’ and reliable dribbler of cold water on all forms of overheated aestheticism, comes across as the last defender of sensible English decency. Terry Eagleton ...
5 May 1988
... generously as he has just done. Nobody is in any doubt, of course, that he can perform swordwork of a devastating sort as well. It is not so long ago, indeed, that I experienced a sharp regret that JohnCarey’s unstinted praise of work that I had done had also provided the occasion for his fierce underestimation of work by a friend and countryman of mine. Still, it is inevitable that this kind of ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor

18 February 2016
The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... a typical English puritan, in the usual lazy caricature of the sour-faced, high-minded left. He is easily irritated by talk of class conflict, and is not exactly in congratulatory mood when he calls JohnCarey the most class-conscious critic of the modern age. (The literary hackles raised by Carey’s recent memoir, The Unexpected Professor, which puts the petty-bourgeois boot into patrician dons ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John​ Sutherland: Aldous Huxley

11 July 2002
Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... way to describe a man who so resolutely avoided the discomforts of his home country. But the subtitle signals the critical thrust of Murray’s book. He opposes the ‘new orthodoxy’ expounded by JohnCarey in his 1992 polemic, The Intellectuals and the Masses. This biography aims to vindicate Huxley as a humane thinker and artist rather than the crypto-fascist, eugenicist, public-school snob, or ...
26 September 1991
The Faber Book of Madness 
edited by Roy Porter.
Faber, 572 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 14387 3
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... A small news item with a large history behind it: John Sylvester, an inhabitant of Lancashire, was released last month from a life spent in mental hospitals and institutions, aged 81. He had been incarcerated when he was six years old, and his offence ...

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