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Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Sunday Times book, Philby, the spy who betrayed a generation, which he co-authored in 1968. Mr John Costello has produced Mask of Treachery, dealing with Blunt, while Mr Robert Cecil has written a biography of his former Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s study of the Soviet ...

Disinformation

Phillip Knightley, 8 July 1993

Deadly Illusions: The First Book from the KGB Archives 
by John Costello and Oleg Tsarev.
Century, 538 pp., £18.99, June 1993, 9780712655002
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... this media activity was more than the new philosophy of freedom of information, as described by Costello in his afterword: ‘The Russian Intelligence Service has therefore set a new level of openness and has advanced the boundaries of intelligence and counter-intelligence history writing.’ The KGB was also going to solve the pension problems of its older ...

A Frog’s Life

James Wood: Coetzee’s Confessions, 23 October 2003

Elizabeth CostelloEight Lessons 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 233 pp., £14.99, September 2003, 0 436 20616 1
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... much she shares with her creator is one of the device’s loitering teases. Her name is Elizabeth Costello, an Australian novelist born in 1928, famous like Coetzee for her rewriting of a classic novel (in Coetzee’s case, Robinson Crusoe; in Costello’s, Ulysses). The frame story allows Coetzee to share ideas while ...

Our Founder

John Bayley: Papa Joyce, 19 February 1998

John Stanislaus Joyce: The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father 
by John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello.
Fourth Estate, 493 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 85702 417 6
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... rather, and the tones, are those of the old artificer, the father of the tribe, Simon Dedalus, John Stanislaus Joyce. Like the violins of Cremona, Dubliners, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake are the products of a joint concern, a family undertaking. Joyce himself was frank about this. As long as he had escaped he could still be in the bosom of the family. As long ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown, 2 November 2006

... him almost painfully eager not to fall into this trap. Not for Brown the ghastly contortions of John Prescott, happy to scourge the Tories for their failings as husbands and fathers in the dog days of the Major administration, but equally happy to try it on himself when a comely employee fell his way. Yet this sort of hypocrisy doesn’t seem to bother ...

Fictioneering

Frank Kermode: J.M. Coetzee, 8 October 2009

Summertime 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 266 pp., £17.99, August 2009, 978 1 84655 318 9
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... concerned with South African politics. It has no evident connection with the Coetzee figure (‘John’ in the text), who is described as sharing a house with his father and spending most of his time not very usefully on repairing it. Certain passages italicised in the text are said by the biographer to be memoranda by Coetzee ‘himself’, perhaps as ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... which of them were homosexuals and so on, Cornish dodgily assuming, as did Andrew Boyle and John Costello before him, that homosexuality is itself a bond and that if two men can be shown to be homosexual the likelihood is that they’re sleeping together. So we trail down that road looking for cliques and coteries with even G.M. Trevelyan’s ...

God wielded the buzzer

Christian Lorentzen: The Sorrows of DFW, 11 October 2012

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 
by D.T. Max.
Granta, 352 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 84708 494 1
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... someone really insane to fix the economy’; but by the time he wrote about politics, profiling John McCain for Rolling Stone in 2000, he was basically a liberal Democrat.) His roommate Mark Costello became a lifelong confidant and sometime collaborator. (Costello is now a novelist in ...

Tables and Chairs

Christopher Tayler: J.M. Coetzee, 21 March 2013

J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing 
by J.C. Kannemeyer, translated by Michiel Heyns.
Jonathan Ball, 710 pp., R 325, October 2012, 978 1 86842 495 5
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Here and Now: Letters 2008-11 
by Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee.
Viking, 256 pp., $27.95, March 2013, 978 0 670 02666 1
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The Childhood of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 210 pp., £16.99, March 2013, 978 1 84655 769 9
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... in character. ‘After retiring from UCT and settling in Adelaide,’ Kannemeyer writes, ‘John Coetzee became a far more relaxed person.’ One symptom of this relative relaxation is the emergence, or re-emergence, since 2002, of a playful, inscrutably teasing side to his writing. In the essays collected in Inner Workings (2007) a dry sense of humour ...

tarry easty

Roy Foster: Joyce in Trieste, 30 November 2000

The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste 1904-20 
by John McCourt.
Lilliput, 306 pp., £25, June 2000, 1 901866 45 9
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... remains firmly in the background; more strikingly, a recent book about the young Joyce by Peter Costello, which ends in 1914, provides much valuable new material about his Dublin background and youth but devotes only sixty of nearly four hundred pages to his time in Trieste. This has not gone unnoticed in Joyce’s temporarily adopted city. A map produced ...

In a Cold Country

Michael Wood: Coetzee’s Grumpy Voice, 4 October 2007

Diary of a Bad Year 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 231 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 1 84655 120 8
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Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 304 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 1 84655 045 4
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... who can’t bear the chill that emanates from these works, especially Disgrace (1999), Elizabeth Costello (2003) and Slow Man (2005). The same chill can be picked up in Coetzee’s critical essays, where it is likely to appear as offhand authority. A poem by Paul Celan, we learn in the collection Inner Workings, ‘absorbs from the Surrealists everything ...

The Atom School

Theo Tait: J.M. Coetzee, 3 November 2016

The Schooldays of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 260 pp., £17.99, August 2016, 978 1 911215 35 6
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... the second part of a quasi-autobiographical trilogy, we are told that the book’s protagonist, John, ‘can see no reason why people need to dance’: Dancing makes sense only when it is interpreted as something else, something that people prefer not to admit. That something else is the real thing: the dance is merely a cover. Inviting a girl to dance ...

V-2 into Space

Adam Mars-Jones: Michael Chabon, 2 March 2017

Moonglow 
by Michael Chabon.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £18.99, January 2017, 978 0 00 754891 0
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... one does: ‘When I was in graduate school I was startled to find this story’s source in The John Collier Reader, – or so I have always believed until this afternoon, when I first riffled, then paged carefully, front to back, back to front, through the local copy (Knopf, 1972) and discovered no trace of such a story anywhere in the book.’ But over ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Project Nim’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ , 8 September 2011

Project Nim 
directed by James Marsh.
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes 
directed by Rupert Wyatt.
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... to hide away. Franco takes the tiny chimpanzee home, supposedly for a day or two, but his father (John Lithgow), suffering badly from Alzheimer’s, is much drawn to the creature, who happily stays with the family. They call him Caesar, but that’s only because someone has been peeking at his future destiny as ape leader. Having discovered that the ...

Like a Dog

Elizabeth Lowry: J.M. Coetzee, 14 October 1999

Disgrace 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 220 pp., £14.99, July 1999, 0 436 20489 4
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The Lives of Animals 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Princeton, 127 pp., £12.50, May 1999, 0 691 00443 9
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... a novel, by the story of a tense encounter between a mother and her son. The lecturer is Elizabeth Costello, a novelist who has been asked to deliver a series of talks on a subject of her choice at Appleton College (just as Coetzee was asked to deliver the Tanner Lectures, on which the book is based. Mise en abyme, anyone?). The son is ...

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