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About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg, 18 November 2004

The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... a fictional symposium that ran in the paper between 1822 and 1835. The author of the Noctes was John Wilson, who constructed dialogues between his own alter ego (‘Christopher North’) and that of Hogg (‘the Shepherd’). The Shepherd gets the best lines – better, some have suggested, than anything Hogg ever wrote – but he is also made to look a ...

Artovsky Millensky

Andrew O’Hagan: The Misfit, 1 January 2009

Arthur Miller, 1915-62 
by Christopher Bigsby.
Weidenfeld, 739 pp., £30, November 2008, 978 0 297 85441 8
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... Even as late as the 1950s, at the height of his fame as a playwright, Arthur Miller would periodically leave his nice house to hang around the dockyards. He had worked for two years in the 1930s at a car parts warehouse, where he first encountered anti-semitism and suspicion. Reading Russian novels on his way into work, he found, when he considered it later, that the workers ‘feared his intelligence, his application, his ambition and his thrift, taking all these as tokens of his Jewish identity ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... though they will seem truisms to many actors, are distanced, as in a time-warp, from Jonathan Miller’s handsome, thoughtful book about ‘directors’ theatre’, Subsequent Performances. This book is, among other things, an apologia for Miller’s own work as a drama director and an essay on the effects of Time upon ...

Hormone Wars

A. Craig Copetas, 23 April 1992

Crazy Cock 
by Henry Miller.
HarperCollins, 202 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 00 223943 4
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The Happiest Man Alive 
by Mary Dearborn.
HarperCollins, 368 pp., £18.50, July 1991, 0 00 215172 3
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... sneered the American expatriate. ‘The game has no place in my life.’ I don’t know if Henry Miller was a football fan, but after reading his long-lost novel Crazy Cock, which was located by Miller scholar Mary Dearborn, together with Dearborn’s biography of the quintessential American writer in Paris, I suspect that ...
Timebends: A Life 
by Arthur Miller.
Methuen, 614 pp., £17.95, November 1987, 0 413 41480 9
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Vivien Leigh: The Life of Vivien Leigh 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79118 4
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... Pursuing the truth about the McCarthyite witch-hunt via 17th-century Salem, Arthur Miller was one day transfixed by an etching in a library. It had been made by an eyewitness of the original trials, and showed a bearded judge with arms upraised in horror as he watched a covey of girls screaming and clawing at invisible tormentors ...

Pouting

Karl Miller: Smiley and Bingham, 9 May 2013

A Delicate Truth 
by John le Carré.
Viking, 310 pp., £18.99, April 2013, 978 0 670 92279 6
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The Man Who Was George Smiley: The Life of John Bingham 
by Michael Jago.
Biteback, 308 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 1 84954 513 6
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... John le Carré has now published 23 books, the Great Bear of that night sky being the series of novels lit by the round English gentleman, spymaster George Smiley, he who wipes his glasses with the thick end of his unfailing tie. Among the features of these spy stories is a concern with patriotism and uncertainty, not least with the uncertainties of patriotism ...

Andropov’s Turn

Philip Short, 19 May 1983

Khrushchev 
by Roy Medvedev, translated by Brian Pearce.
Blackwell, 292 pp., £9.50, November 1982, 0 631 12993 6
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Soviet Policy for the 1980s 
edited by Archie Brown and Michael Kaser.
Macmillan/St Antony’s College, Oxford, 282 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 333 33139 7
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... of the Soviet system completed six months before Brezhnev’s death. There is one complete dud: John Hazard’s contribution on Soviet legal trends. A man who accepts as ‘fact’ the Soviet Supreme Court’s claim that criminality in the Soviet Union has diminished since 1940, and who gives his readers to understand that the Soviet authorities resort to ...

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 ...

Fatty

Tom Shippey, 5 May 1988

Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard 
by Russell Miller.
Joseph, 390 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2764 1
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Dianetics 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 605 pp., £3.50, February 1988, 9781870451185
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Mission Earth. Vol. V: Fortune of Fear 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 365 pp., £10.75, July 1987, 1 870451 01 5
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Mission Earth. Vol. VI: Death Quest 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 351 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 1 870451 02 3
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... As its title so obviously shows, the main thesis of Russell Miller’s book is that L. Ron Hubbard, inventor of Dianetics and founder of Scientology, was all his life an incorrigible liar. That being the case, it is a pity that the book starts off with a statement which sounds hypocritical at best. ‘I would like to be able to thank the officials of the Church of Scientology for their help in compiling this biography ...

The kind of dog he likes

W.G. Runciman: Realistic Utopias, 18 December 2014

Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy 
by David Miller.
Cambridge, 254 pp., £18.99, January 2013, 978 1 107 61375 1
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... Why ‘earthlings’​ ? David Miller isn’t drawing a contrast with justice for creatures from outer space. Nor is he taking issue directly with Ronald Dworkin’s ‘justice for hedgehogs’ in Dworkin’s book of 2011 with that title, although Miller does say in a footnote that he disagrees with him ...

Inside the Barrel

Brent Hayes Edwards: The French Slave Trade, 10 September 2009

Memoires des esclavages: la fondation d’un centre national pour la memoire des esclavages et de leurs abolitions 
by Edouard Glissant.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €14.90, May 2007, 978 2 07 078554 4
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The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade 
by Christopher Miller.
Duke, 571 pp., £20.99, March 2008, 978 0 8223 4151 2
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... imagine Toni Morrison or Caryl Phillips being asked to take charge of such matters. As Christopher Miller points out in The French Atlantic Triangle, in France ‘literature was one of the most important battlegrounds for the debate on slavery.’ But in spite of the wealth of scholarship on the Atlantic slave trade, surprisingly little work has been done on ...

Northern Laughter

Karl Miller: Macrone on Scott, 10 October 2013

The Life of Sir Walter Scott 
by John Macrone, edited by Daniel Grader.
Edinburgh, 156 pp., £65, February 2013, 978 0 7486 6991 2
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... may have glimpsed the shadowy, not to say meteoric, not to say dubious presence of the publisher John Macrone, and learned of his prompt desire, after Scott’s death in September 1832, to write his Life, basing it to a large extent on rural informants. Here was the promise of a main event in the comet’s six-year visit to the Anglo-Scottish cultural ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester, 15 October 1987

Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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Mensonge 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... bottled-at-the-place-of-origin Deconstructionists (Jacques Derrida, Barbara Johnson, J. Hillis Miller) and one sympathiser (Geoffrey Hartman), two politically-minded oppositional critics (Edward Said, Frank Lentricchia) and two unclassifiable individualists (Harold Bloom, Frank Kermode). The ninth interviewee is the daddy of academic critics, the man with ...

Diary

John Sutherland: Do books have a future?, 25 May 2006

... large, electronically sophisticated wholesalers, Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor. As Laura Miller notes, these wholesalers’ speed and reliability of delivery ‘rationalised book distribution by enabling booksellers to implement a “just in time” strategy’.* The cultural tone of the mall book-chains, and the wholesalers behind them, was ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 23 October 2014

... idea of being a famous literary editor may seem oxymoronic. That, however, is exactly what Karl Miller was. As a result, it was possible to be well-briefed about Karl before meeting him for the first time. This was thanks to Clive James’s introduction to his collection Visions before Midnight. James said that Karl, who’d commissioned him to write about ...

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