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Dickens and I*

Gavin Ewart, 20 November 1980

... the shys, the bolds, for me to sign their poem-photostats; I write ‘Best wishes to Clare; John; Clive; Maureen.’ These are their souvenirs – Bard Rock, Hippocrene beer mats – xeroxed to help them sort out what I mean, like worksheets. I’m the only worksheet on the scene! Behind me I feel pressure from the ...

Clive’s Clio

Hugh Tulloch, 8 February 1990

Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History 
by John Clive.
Collins Harvill, 334 pp., £15, October 1989, 0 00 272041 8
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... Both here and in his earlier study of the Edinburgh Review and his first volume on Macaulay, John Clive shows no desire to use or manipulate the Victorians. He merely wants to understand them better. And what he comes to understand, as G.M. Young did before him, is that the Victorian resolutely refuses to behave in the way we think Victorians ...

Here’s to the high-minded

Stefan Collini, 7 April 1994

After the Victorians: Private Conscience and Public Duty in Modern Britain 
edited by Susan Pedersen and Peter Mandler.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1994, 0 415 07056 2
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... centrality in British culture. Characteristically feeble echoes of this assault were evident in John Major’s recent sneering at ‘progressive theorists’, but some years ago the real emotional dynamic was laid bare, indecently bare, by (as usual) Norman Tebbit, who extolled ‘the man in the pub’ against the upper-class ‘cocktail set’ on the ...

Ponting bites back

Tam Dalyell, 4 April 1985

The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... Contrary to the impression formed in some quarters, I do not know Clive Ponting well. Apart from a three-hour meeting in the presence of Brian Raymond, his remarkably gifted and industrious solicitor, in the early autumn of last year, I have never had a proper conversation with him. And that meeting related to the issue of whether I should lend my voluminous files and records of letters – some thirty-two boxes which would have taken up a large part of a pantechnicon – since he found himself in the position of having to defend himself without access to the Ministry of Defence records ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... Voice any doubt except that. Below Karl Miller’s troubled conscience is an assurance worthy of John Knox, if rather more tolerant. His magazine reflects this – is, indeed, its embodiment. The LRB is the house magazine of the British intellectual élite. In the TLS they talk to the world. In the LRB they talk to each other. The dons let their hair ...

Lucky Brrm

John Sutherland, 12 March 1992

Brrm! Brrm! 
by Clive James.
Cape, 160 pp., £12.99, November 1991, 0 224 03226 7
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Saint Maybe 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 337 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 7011 3787 8
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Faustine 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 140 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571142637
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... with his largest viewing constituency in Britain. The same – but more – could be said of Clive James. James has earned himself reputations as a television host, reviewer, newspaper columnist, songwriter, ‘metropolitan critic’, versifier and novelist (Brrm! Brrm! is his third published title). He is the master of many trades and must be envied by ...

When the Mediterranean Was Blue

John Bayley, 23 March 1995

Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life 
by Clive Fisher.
Macmillan, 304 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 333 57813 9
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... or Byronic about him. Though his funny face had great charm he was the reverse of handsome: John Sparrow, in one of his feline mots, remarked that ‘the trouble with Cyril is that he is not so beautiful as he looks.’ But he was a living repository of nostalgia, and of the most stylish sort of self-pity; and these, if properly served up, can be a ...

The Eternity Man

Clive James, 20 July 1995

... be prostitutes. He was a pimp, But in 1930, in his early forties, on meths, He heard the Reverend John Ridley at Burton Street Baptist Church, Darlinghurst, And scrapped his planned night in the down-and-out sanctuary. The piss-artist had his vocation revealed unto him – Writing Eternity. ‘I wish I could shout one word through the streets of ...

Pretending to be the parlourmaid

John Bayley, 2 December 1993

Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell 
edited by Regina Marler, introduced by Quentin Bell.
Bloomsbury, 593 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 7475 1550 6
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... befallen its visual artists. They are understood only too well, and patronised with faint praise. Clive Bell’s ‘Significant Form’ is an aesthetic curiosity, Roger Fry’s influence as a theorist long ago terminated. The pictures and decorative work of the Bloomsbury English Modernists – Bell, Fry, Duncan Grant, Dora Carrington (who can be one of the ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: It's a size thing, 19 September 1985

... A relief, then, to turn from all this deranged big-talk to some sturdy English self-effacement. John Haffenden is steadily becoming the closest we have to a domestic version of the Mansos and Grobels. He has already published a book of earnest conversations with a dozen or so poets and this month he gives it a companion: Novelists in Interview.2 Plodding ...

The Laying on of Hands

Alan Bennett, 7 June 2001

... muted, one could have been forgiven, thought Treacher, for thinking this was a wedding not a wake. Clive Dunlop, the dead man, was quite young – 34 according to the dates given on the front of the Order of Service, though there were some in the congregation who had thought him even younger. Still, it was a shocking age to die, there was no disagreement about ...

Amigos

Christopher Ricks, 2 August 1984

The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... culturalists who run this very contemporary show: Miles Kington and Russell Davies, Alan Coren and Clive James, Malcolm Bradbury and George Melly. The parodied A’s have it: Douglas Adams (hitchhiking through a galaxy of fading stars), Woody Allen, Kingsley Amis, Anon, John Aubrey, Auden and Ayckbourn. An Auden parody is ...

Inside Out

John Bayley, 4 September 1980

The Collected Ewart 1933-1980 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 412 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 09 141000 2
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Selected Poems and Prose 
by Michael Roberts, edited by Frederick Grubb.
Carcanet, 205 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 85635 263 2
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... and comfortable volume there is a poem called ‘It’s hard to dislike Ewart’. Too true, as Clive James or Peter Porter might say, possibly with a certain wry exasperation. Generally speaking, our fondness and admiration for poets does go with a potential of patronage or dislike, a pleasure in our sense of the absurdities and vulnerabilities of their ...

C is for Colonies

Anthony Pagden: A New History of Empire, 11 May 2006

Edge of Empire: Conquest and Collecting in the East 1750-1850 
by Maya Jasanoff.
Fourth Estate, 405 pp., £25, August 2005, 0 00 718009 8
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... and with one another. Of the ‘List of Inhabitants residing in Calcutta’ drawn up for Lord Clive in 1766, only 129 of the 231 European males were British. The rest came from Portugal, the German states, Switzerland, Sweden, French Chandernagore and Ireland. Life in this frontier world, as Jasanoff says, was ‘never a two-sided saga of colonisers ...

Like a row of books by Faber

Peter Porter, 22 January 1987

Other Passports: Poems 1958-1985 
by Clive James.
Cape, 221 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 224 02422 1
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... in verse. This nostrum begs many questions, but it remains a good rule-of-thumb. By this test, Clive James is a true poet. Line after line of his has a characteristic personal tone, a kind of end-stopped singingness which is almost independent of what it says. The following are taken at random from Other Passports: Like injured ozone to angelic wings ...

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