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R.W. Johnson, 4 August 1994

Charles de Gaulle, Futurist of the Nation 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 111 pp., £29.95, April 1994, 0 86091 622 7
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De Gaulle and 20th-Century France 
edited by Hugh Gough and John Horne.
Edward Arnold, 158 pp., £12.99, March 1994, 0 340 58826 8
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François Mitterrand: A Study in Political Leadership 
by Alistair Cole.
Routledge, 216 pp., £19.99, March 1994, 0 415 07159 3
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... withdrawn, and had seven bishops sacked. When the new Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII), went to plead the cause of Catholic schools, he took with him a map of France with all the under-funded Catholic schools marked in red. De Gaulle sent him packing: ‘This map is the map of France. It is therefore up to the French, and not a foreign ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... people think I’m a monster.’ The biography he authorised and checked – Hitch by his friend John Russell Taylor – appeared two years before his death on 29 April 1980 to contradict this idea, and, for all its blandness and sparseness of reference, brought much information to light. Its blurb called it ‘the only serious biography of the man ...

No more pretty face

Philip Horne, 8 March 1990

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... and debased by the hollow consumerist ethic such criticism reflects, to appreciate the beauty of John Ford’s Westerns; he is pained by ‘the increasingly indignant audiences who consistently show that the future belongs to the very worst Z-movies, to the pictures that block off your vision and to the sounds that clout you across the ear’. Fourteen years ...

Maids

Philip Horne, 1 April 1983

The Slow Train to Milan 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 254 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 224 02077 3
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Holy Pictures 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 201 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 241 10926 4
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Pilgermann 
by Russell Hoban.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 224 02072 2
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September Castle: A Tale of Love 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 261 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 85634 123 1
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The Watcher 
by Charles Maclean.
Allen Lane, 343 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 7139 1559 5
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The Little Drummer Girl 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 433 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 340 32847 9
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... affected by Charles Maclean’s workmanship in plotting such horror out of forgetfulness. John Le Carré’s new book, The Little Drummer Girl, has an unhappy English actress with radical leanings recruited as an agent by the Israeli intelligence service in order to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist network attacking Jews in Europe. The ...

Comedy is murder

Thomas Powers: Joseph Heller, 8 March 2012

Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller 
by Tracy Daugherty.
Robson, 548 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84954 172 5
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Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller was Dad and Life was a Catch-22 
by Erica Heller.
Vintage, 272 pp., £8.99, October 2011, 978 0 09 957008 0
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... say. It was the success of the competition that brought him up short. First had come The Gallery, John Horne Burns’s novel about the Allied occupation of Naples, which Heller admired. That gave him pause. Then Norman Mailer’s huge war novel, The Naked and the Dead, stopped him cold. Heller realised immediately that any war novel he was then likely to ...

Caretaker/Pallbearer

James Wolcott: Updike should stay at home, 1 January 2009

The Widows of Eastwick 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2008, 978 0 241 14427 5
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... John Updike’s unfailing geniality and fluent industry appear to get on a fair number of nerves, of which he’s slyly aware. (Is there anything he isn’t slyly aware of? That foxy grin conceals volumes.) When Updike was but a sprig, apprenticing at the New Yorker and carving out a little piece of Pennsylvania as his literary duchy, his gleaming facility was found suspect by some detractors, its satin finish the imposture of a fair-haired boy out to impress his elders with the fine flick of his exquisite perceptions and deflective modesty ...

Ranklings

Philip Horne, 30 August 1990

Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... mostly American group made up by herself, Walter Berry, Howard Sturgis, Morton Fullerton, John Hugh Smith, Percy Lubbock and a few other initiates. She emphasises the man’s ‘quality of fun’, and her James is ‘the laughing, chaffing, jubilant yet malicious James’, not ‘the grave personage known to less intimate eyes’. Like the letters of ...

An Infinity of Novels

Philip Horne, 14 September 1989

A Short Guide to the World Novel: From Myth to Modernism 
by Gilbert Phelps.
Routledge, 397 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 415 00765 8
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The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Longman, 696 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 582 49040 5
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The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel 1875-1914 
by Peter Keating.
Secker, 533 pp., £30, September 1989, 0 436 23248 0
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... us, as for Trollope, ‘a terrible aspect’. It doesn’t apparently, though, for Gilbert Phelps, John Sutherland and Peter Keating, surveyors and encyclopedists of the form who in their respective fields have laboured with energetic exhaustiveness and not broken down. Each of these books feels as if it takes in an infinity of novels, and each deserves the ...

Train Loads of Ammunition

Philip Horne, 1 August 1985

Immoral Memories 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Herbert Marshall.
Peter Owen, 292 pp., £20, June 1985, 0 7206 0650 0
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A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema: 1930-1980 
by Robert Ray.
Princeton, 409 pp., £48.50, June 1985, 0 691 04727 8
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Suspects 
by David Thomson.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 52014 1
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Cahiers du Cinéma. Vol. I: The 1950s. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave 
edited by Jim Hillier.
Routledge with the British Film Institute, 312 pp., £16.95, March 1985, 0 7100 9620 8
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... life of fiction’. They see themselves as living in films, like Death Wish fan Bernard Goetz, or John W. Hinckley Jr thinking himself akin to Travis Bickle, the Taxi Driver: here Travis Bickle is the narrator’s son, and Thomson’s chapter on him acutely treats the ambiguous end of Scorsese’s film as a nightmarish, irreversible arrival on the screen ...

Doughy

John Sutherland: Conrad’s letters, 4 December 2003

The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. VI: 1917-19 
edited by Laurence Davies, Frederick R. Karl and Owen Knowles.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £80, December 2002, 0 521 56195 7
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... which could draw superstructurally on the digital resource. A model that comes to mind is Philip Horne’s ingenious Henry James: A Life in Letters (1999). A thirty-volume set of letters, even for the Master, is not on, so Horne sifted through James’s manuscript remains and printed a run of correspondence, with linking ...

Hoylake

Peter Clarke, 30 March 1989

Selwyn Lloyd 
by D.K. Thorpe.
Cape, 516 pp., £18, February 1989, 0 224 02828 6
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... Grandfather was John Wesley Lloyd, son of the Rev. John Lloyd from Llanidloes; after an education at Kingswood School, entry to which was restricted to the sons of Methodist ministers, he became a dentist and moved to Liverpool. His own son, also John Wesley Lloyd, was ineligible for Kingswood and sent therefore to the Methodist-inspired Leys School in Cambridge as the next best thing; he qualified in medicine but, like his eponymous father, became a Liverpool dentist – chapel-going, teetotal, Liberal ...

‘His eyes were literally on fire’

David Trotter: Fu Manchu, 5 March 2015

The Yellow Peril: Dr Fu Manchu & the Rise of Chinaphobia 
by Christopher Frayling.
Thames and Hudson, 360 pp., £24.95, October 2014, 978 0 500 25207 9
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... of China’s epochal stagnation. During the Great Exhibition of 1851, Charles Dickens and Richard Horne wrote a piece for Household Words that contrasted the wonders of the Crystal Palace with the quaintness of an accompanying display of artefacts from China at a gallery in Hyde Park Place. ‘It is very curious,’ Dickens and ...

Tunnel Visions

Philip Horne, 4 August 1988

The Tunnel 
by Ernesto Sabato, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Cape, 138 pp., £10.95, June 1988, 0 224 02578 3
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Pilgrims Way 
by Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Cape, 232 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 224 02562 7
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States of Emergency 
by André Brink.
Faber, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 571 15118 3
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Moonrise, Moonset 
by Tadeusz Konwicki, translated by Richard Lourie.
Faber, 344 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 571 13609 5
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... of ‘Notes towards ... ’, on disarming criticism by pre-emptive apology. But in the words of John Wayne, ‘Sorry doesn’t get it done.’ Thus he writes, ‘(This really has the makings of a Mills & Boon)’ – but lets it stand. He inserts a footnote in a scene between Philip and his rival for Melissa: ‘It is difficult to render simultaneity in ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne, 8 December 1988

A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... same kind of catalyst for a disturbed individual as Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver was for John W. Hinckley III. The incongruity that so morally intricate and oblique a work as James’s should be exploited only for a cruelly manipulative piece of chicanery counts dramatically, moreover: the sensitive Jamesian Elizabeth, threatened with death from ...

How They Brought the Good News

Colin Kidd: Britain’s Napoleonic Wars, 20 November 2014

In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 739 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 571 26952 5
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... Napoleonic Wars, a patriotic mythology fixated on the achievements of Nelson, Wellington and Sir John Moore at Corunna tends to filter out fear and uncertainty in favour of a seemingly inevitable procession of victories. As Jenny Uglow stresses in her gripping account of Britain during the Napoleonic era, contemporaries had no such feeling of security. There ...

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