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Uchi

Kazuo Ishiguro, 1 August 1985

Pictures from the Water Trade: An Englishman in Japan 
by John DavidMorley.
Deutsch, 259 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 233 97703 1
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... are so fond of the ‘inscrutability’ of Japanese faces. I fear, then, for this splendid book by John DavidMorley, based on his three-year stay in Japan during the mid-Seventies, which adopts the approach of assuming the Japanese to be human beings, and rather ordinary ones at that. Pictures from the Water Trade is a ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud, 21 June 2001

Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... These biographies of John Gielgud by Jonathan Croall and Sheridan Morley are quite hard to tell apart. They are of much the same size, bear handsome pictures of the actor in old age on the front of their dust-jackets, and are, inevitably, affectionate and indulgent towards their subject ...

The Monster Plot

Thomas Powers: James Angleton, Spymaster, 10 May 2018

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton 
by Jefferson Morley.
Scribe, 336 pp., £20, December 2017, 978 1 911344 73 5
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... like Angleton in the room. When he wanted someone to understand the Monster Plot – someone like David Blee, for example, who took over as chief of the Soviet Bloc Division in the CIA’s clandestine wing in 1971 – Angleton would schedule time for ‘the briefing’. He didn’t tell Blee what it was all about in twenty minutes: he walked him through ...
Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 240 pp., £25, February 1990, 0 19 812852 5
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Professing Literature: An Institutional History 
by Gerald Graff.
Chicago, 315 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 226 30604 6
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... had been unusual. He began his working life at 17 as an Admiralty clerk, but was excited by Henry Morley’s extension lectures into spending all his spare time on the study of English literature. At the age of 42 he left the Civil Service, where he felt his life was being wasted, to take up his first academic post, a lectureship under ...

Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy, 14 December 2006

Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... Park Honan has done one of the two already, and now has done the other. Coming shortly after David Riggs’s solid, even too-solid The World of Christopher Marlowe, his Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy feels a little lightweight. He is probably right to say that he has a better story about Marlowe’s origins in Canterbury and his doings at Corpus in ...

Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn, 24 April 2008

Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... 1505, she grew up, probably, on her father’s estates in Essex. Jane’s mother was Alice St John, daughter of a Bedfordshire landowner. Her father was Henry, Lord Morley, the scholarly translator of Petrarch and Plutarch. David Starkey begins an essay on Lord ...

Wham Bang, Teatime

Ian Penman: Bowie, 5 January 2017

The Age of Bowie: How David Bowie Made a World of Difference 
by Paul Morley.
Simon & Schuster, 484 pp., £20, July 2016, 978 1 4711 4808 8
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On Bowie 
by Rob Sheffield.
Headline, 197 pp., £14.99, June 2016, 978 1 4722 4104 7
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On Bowie 
by Simon Critchley.
Serpent’s Tail, 207 pp., £6.99, April 2016, 978 1 78125 745 6
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Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 704 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 571 30171 3
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... In​ 1975 David Bowie was in Los Angeles pretending to star in a film that wasn’t being made, adapted from a memoir he would never complete, to be called ‘The Return of the Thin White Duke’. This dubious pseudonymous character was first aired in an interview with Rolling Stone’s bumptious but canny young reporter Cameron Crowe; it soon became notorious ...

Keeping out and coming close

Michael Church, 3 October 1985

Here lies: An Autobiography 
by Eric Ambler.
Weidenfeld, 234 pp., £10.95, June 1985, 0 297 78588 5
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The Levanter 
by Eric Ambler.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 297 99521 9
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Doctor Frigo 
by Eric Ambler.
Weidenfeld, 250 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 297 76848 4
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The Other Side of the Moon: The Life of David Niven 
by Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 300 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780297787082
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Secrets: Boyhood in a Jewish Hotel 1932-1954 
by Ronald Hayman.
Peter Owen, 224 pp., £12, July 1985, 9780720606423
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A Woman in Custody 
by Audrey Peckham.
Fontana, 253 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 00 636952 9
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No Gangster More Bold 
by John Morgan.
Hodder, 179 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 26387 3
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... liked it, however, to ensure that a sequel was both made and shown. Ambler was then sent to help John Huston make a film about the liberation of Italy: his account of this collaboration, which took them into front-line fighting, is by turns funny, frightening and, in the miseries they witnessed, dreadfully sad. The blurb claims (well, it would, wouldn’t ...

Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: ‘The Bestseller Code’, 17 November 2016

... reading. Archer and Jockers are interested in the pumpkin plants – writers like Stephen King, John Grisham and Danielle Steel, perennial presences on the New York Times bestseller list – and what makes them sell so well. By looking only at textual features their machine has isolated the essence of the bestseller, Archer and Jockers believe, and can now ...

Horrors and Cream

Hugh Tulloch, 21 August 1980

On the Edge of Paradise 
by David Newsome.
Murray, 405 pp., £17.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3690 1
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... think that they could get a good picture of my life from these pages; but it is not so.’ David Newsome, invited and challenged, has entered the labyrinth, drawing the rest of us with him into an implacable game initiated by the diarist. The mirrors and images multiply, with Newsome, the reviewer and the reader locked together in observation, and the ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin, 12 May 1994

Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... takes centre stage for a time – displaced by other violent attention-getters like Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, Singapore’s caning sentence to punish an American teenager, the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ Congressional proposal to jail for life those convicted of three violent crimes (a category that includes ...

Reading Cure

John Sutherland, 10 November 1988

The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. Vol. IV: 1824-1900 
edited by Walter Houghton, Esther Rhoads Houghton and Jean Harris Slingerland.
Toronto/Routledge, 826 pp., £95, January 1988, 0 7102 1442 1
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Circulation: Defoe, Dickens and the Economies of the Novel 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 148 pp., £27.50, October 1988, 0 333 40542 0
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From Copyright to Copperfield 
by Alexander Welsh.
Harvard, 200 pp., £19.95, December 1987, 0 674 32342 4
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... The dominant ideas were principally extracted from the pontifical utterances of ‘sages’, in John Holloway’s expression, like Carlyle, Mill, Ruskin, Bagehot, Froude, Huxley, Morley, Arnold. The team-written Wellesley Index project went on from this quest to anatomise the élite Victorian mind at a lower ...

Carnivals of Progress

John Ziman, 17 February 1983

Sir William Rowan Hamilton 
by Thomas Hankins.
Johns Hopkins, 474 pp., £19.50, July 1981, 0 8018 2203 3
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Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray.
Oxford, 592 pp., £30, August 1981, 0 19 858163 7
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The Parliament of Science: The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 
edited by Roy MacLeod and Peter Collins.
Science Reviews, 308 pp., £12.25, September 1982, 0 905927 66 4
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... In the London Review of Books, John Maynard Smith said about scientists: ‘however interested they may be in politics or history or philosophy, their first love is science itself.’ If only I could follow this bent, and tell something of Hamilton as a mathematician. As it happens, he also wrote a good deal of poetry, but his poems lack the magic of his equations, which seem more beautiful and moving now than when they were imagined 150 years ago ...

Diary

Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... make an excellent Speaker.’  To my dismay, today’s roll-call of The Fallen includes Elliot Morley, who appears to have been charging for a mortgage that was long ago repaid. 15 May. This evening’s Sunderland Echo highlights the expenses of local MPs. The only figures mentioned are the London allowance totals for last year, which show me in a good ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... got their first chance in that pub. A few of the celebrants are, or have been, English dons – John Fuller, Simon Gray, Dan Jacobson; but even they arrived by what might be called the bohemian route. There are of course other ways in; anybody can see how much space the dons occupy in the respectable papers and magazines. Many moved in by routes that did ...

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