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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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... the Nineties. Paradoxically, it is not composed but spoken. The voice that echoes through it, the voices 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 ...
3 March 1988
... If John Bampfylde has any continuing public existence, it must be as the man on the right in this unusual double portrait by Joshua Reynolds. An interested enquirer might learn that Bampfylde was a minor ...
4 April 1991
Jackson​ Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... by the question of abstract art, or by Surrealism, were all pointing in the same direction – towards the definition of a truly American avant-garde. The critical moment was November 1943, Jackson Pollock’s exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century. It was widely reviewed. It was supported by people who until now had only been interested in European art. A few pictures sold. The ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith

9 October 1986
Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... the first volume of a projected three-volume ‘definitive’ biography of Robert Graves by his nephew, Richard Perceval Graves. It takes over where the author’s father, Robert’s younger brother John Graves, left off. John, who died in 1980, had been described by Robert as a ‘typically good pupil of a typically good school’ (to which he returned as teacher); he had for long contemplated the ...

Thinking Persons

John​ Ellis

14 May 1992
Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation 
edited by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Warner.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £40, July 1991, 9780333531372
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The Poverty of Structuralism: Literature and Structuralist Theory 
by Leonard Jackson.
Longman, 317 pp., £24, July 1991, 0 582 06697 2
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Inconvenient Fictions: Literature and the Limits of Theory 
by Bernard Harrison.
Yale, 293 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 300 05057 7
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Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science 
by Mark Turner.
Princeton, 298 pp., £18.99, January 1992, 0 691 06897 6
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Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics 
by Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson.
Stanford, 530 pp., $49.50, December 1990, 0 8047 1821 0
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... are conventional festschrift contributions largely unrelated to the thought of the figure whom they honour. Three of the contributors do, however, engage Kermode’s thought in a fairly serious way: John Stokes, George Hunter and Patrick Parrinder. Two ways of doing so were possible. Either Kermode’s general view of the critic’s task or his ideas concerning specific texts or groups of texts could ...

Fie On’t!

James Buchan

23 March 1995
The Oxford Book of Money 
edited by Kevin Jackson.
Oxford, 479 pp., £17.99, February 1995, 0 19 214200 3
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... reasons or in the manner of a goalkeeper in a penalty shoot-out who must dive one way – to concentrate on sex. That still leaves philosophy, history and imaginative literature. But if Kevin Jackson’s anthology of money, a heroic labour which I cannot praise too highly, shows anything it shows this: that sustained thought about money ceased in Europe and America in the 18th century. You come ...

Gangs

D.A.N. Jones

8 January 1987
The Old School: A Study 
by Simon Raven.
Hamish Hamilton, 139 pp., £12, September 1986, 0 241 11929 4
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The Best Years of their Lives: The National Service Experience 1945-63 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 7181 2459 6
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Murder without Conviction: Inside the World of the Krays 
by John​ Dickson.
Sidgwick, 164 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780283994074
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Inside ‘Private Eye’ 
by Peter McKay.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 947795 80 4
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Malice in Wonderland: Robert Maxwell v. ‘Private Eye’ 
by Robert Maxwell, John Jackson, Peter Donnelly and Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 191 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 356 14616 2
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... By the Sixties all we conscripts had emerged from the mob, ready to face private enterprise, the gang life of Civvy Street, when the Kray Twins ruled London – or so the timorous newspapers claimed. John Dickson, a former member of the Krays’ firm, has somehow produced a well-written book, Murder without Conviction. ‘We looked like any normal businessmen in our pin-striped suits,’ he says ...

Adrenaline Junkie

Jonathan Parry: John​ Tyndall’s Ascent

21 March 2019
The Ascent of John​ Tyndall: Victorian Scientist, Mountaineer and Public Intellectual 
by Roland Jackson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 878895 9
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... On 21 December​ 1859 John Tyndall, a professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution, set out to measure the structure and movements of the Mer de Glace, a glacier above Chamonix. In previous summers he had collected ...
20 March 1980
Visitors Book 
Poolbeg Press, 191 pp., £5.50, November 1979, 0 905169 22 0Show More
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... background. The memory of their last family holiday before the war, in that green and pleasant land just over the horizon, is set against their present predicament. Nor am I in the least convinced by John Arden’s ‘The Fork in the Head’, in which Fionnuala, an Irish Republican/Trotskyite activist, rushes off to a political meeting in Galway, leaving her disenchanted English husband, Jackson, to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Django Unchained’

24 January 2013
Django Unchained 
directed by Quentin Tarantino.
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... the killer with the most corpses to his credit. But this is a gag not a title. It’s like being world champion of boxing in a place where people do nothing but wrestle. Or it’s like trying to get John Wayne or Clint Eastwood to look persuasive in Gone with the Wind. I’m not suggesting that Tarantino doesn’t know what he is doing, and he can certainly get jokes of this clashing kind to work for ...

The Chop

John​ Bayley

27 January 1994
A History of Warfare 
by John​ Keegan.
Hutchinson, 432 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 09 174527 6
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How Great Generals Win 
by Bevin Alexander.
Norton, 320 pp., £22, November 1993, 9780393035315
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The Backbone: Diaries of a Military Family in the Napoleonic Wars 
edited by Alethea Hayter.
Pentland, 343 pp., £18.50, September 1993, 1 85821 069 0
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... with the efforts of good generals who possessed it, often with disastrous results. Neither, however, enjoyed fighting for its own sake, as Caesar did, or Napoleon, or Alexander, or Stonewall Jackson, by far the most talented commander of the American Civil War. To them it was – or became – like a drug, an addiction that could not be given up. Had he lived, Alexander might have invaded Italy ...

Green Thoughts

Brian Dillon: Gardens in Wartime

26 April 2007
Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime 
by Kenneth Helphand.
Trinity, 303 pp., $34.95, November 2006, 1 59534 021 1
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... In 1944 and 1945, John Brinckerhoff Jackson surveyed the French and German countryside for the advancing US army. At the military intelligence training centre in Maryland, Jackson had been taught to see the territory he surveyed as an empty stage on which certain choreographed actions were to be performed, and others improvised in the event that the enemy, or the land itself ...

Shatost

John​ Bayley

16 June 1983
Dostoevsky and ‘The Idiot’: Author, Narrator and Reader 
by Robin Feuer Miller.
Harvard, 296 pp., £16, October 1981, 0 674 21490 0
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Dostoevsky 
by John​ Jones.
Oxford, 365 pp., £15, May 1983, 9780198126454
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New Essays on Dostoyevsky 
edited by Malcolm Jones and Garth Terry.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24890 6
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The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes 
by Robert Louis Jackson.
Princeton, 380 pp., £17.60, January 1982, 0 691 06484 9
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... from the sheet while a fly buzzes over the Jeyes fluid, makes one feel that Dostoevsky did not always turn parody into new reality and the Gothic into his own version of the electrically banal. John Jones may be right to write off The Idiot in his study and leave it out of discussion. Even its humour is disproportionate, and it is peculiarly difficult to separate in it the essential from the ...

Divinely Ordained

Jackson​ Lears: God loves America

19 May 2011
A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided 
by Amanda Foreman.
Penguin, 988 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 104058 5
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... understanding is engulfed by the condemnation of the obvious wrong. ‘It was his business to inveigh against evils, and perhaps there is no easier business,’ Trollope said of the anti-slavery MP John Bright, a theatrical orator who couldn’t be bothered with political detail. Celebrating the Civil War as a triumph of freedom over slavery is equally easy. A few decades ago, US historians tried to ...

One for Uncle

John​ Bayley

5 April 1990
Robert Graves: The Years with Laura 1926-1940 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 297 79672 0
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... his plain, sensible, even-tenored, shrewd account of the most famous member of a big, effective clan bears out pretty well the sense implicit in her lightning sketch. Richard Perceval is the son of John, Robert’s youngest brother, who was also snubbed, patronised and cold-shouldered. Richard Perceval has written excellent studies, admirably researched, of A.E. Housman and of the Powys brothers ...

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