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Richard Luckett

21 December 1989
I.A. Richards: His Life and Work 
by John Paul Russo.
Routledge, 843 pp., £40, May 1989, 0 415 03134 6
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... few of his books are in print, we have the Life and Work of I.A. Richards, over eight hundred pages long, the composition of which began with Richards’s knowledge and with his co-operation. JohnPaulRusso explains his side of this: ‘My probe of the hegemonic anti-biographical, anti-historical bias in New Criticism led me to one of its main sources in Richards. I intended to elucidate as ...

The Savage Life

Frank Kermode: The Adventures of William Empson

19 May 2005
William Empson: Vol. I: Among the Mandarins 
by John​ Haffenden.
Oxford, 695 pp., £30, April 2005, 0 19 927659 5
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... John Haffenden opens the proceedings with a long extract from one of Empson’s letters and goes on to provide a leisurely commentary on it, so, even if you hadn’t noticed the bulk of the book, you’d ...

Capos and Cardinals

Jonathan Steinberg

17 August 1989
Fascism and the Mafia 
by Christopher Duggan.
Yale, 322 pp., £19.95, January 1989, 0 300 04372 4
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A Thief in the Night: The Death of Pope John Paul​ I 
by John​ Cornwell.
Viking, 301 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 670 82387 2
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... a power and momentum of their own,’ which presumably means that life has begun to imitate art. He never says explicitly whether he believes Buscetta or not. Similarly he writes gingerly that Genco Russo, a notorious mafioso, was ‘often spoken of as a leading Mafia figure’, and that Don Calogero Vizzini, the infamous ‘Don Calo’, enjoyed ‘a lasting ... if undeserved fascination’. Such ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld

22 January 2015
... weathered brick. The proud stub of the square tower is all that remains of Hackney’s oldest ecclesiastical building, a 16th-century revision of the 13th-century church founded by the Knights of St John. The Hole is a statement and it is properly capitalised. The labourers, a self-confessed art collective, work the Hole by hand, with pick and shovel, turn and turn about: four days to complete a ...

Kafka’s Dog

P.N. Furbank

13 November 1997
The Treasure Chest 
by Johann Peter Hebel, translated by John​ Hibberd.
Libris/Penguin, 175 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 14 044639 7
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... he composed a volume of dialect verse, the Alemannische Gedichte, which became very famous, earning him the reputation of a sort of German Robert Burns. Goethe admired the poems greatly, and Jean Paul declared he never tired of reading them. Thus when he took on the editorship of the Rheinländische Hausfreund he was already known as a writer; and soon the almanac was being read, and items being ...

All Monte Carlo

James Francken: Malcolm Braly

23 May 2002
On the Yard 
by Malcolm Braly.
NYRB, 438 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 9780940322967
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... the gabardine coat: ‘If I could have been patient I might have made a life for myself (I felt this was always true) but I was bursting with urgency and the world was filled with things I wanted.’ Paul Juleson, one of the central characters in On the Yard, ends up in a funk because he shares Braly’s impatience: ‘Nothing had ever come to him as quickly as he had expected and he had always ...

Some Damn Foolish Thing

Thomas Laqueur: Wrong Turn in Sarajevo

5 December 2013
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 
by Christopher Clark.
Allen Lane, 697 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 0 7139 9942 6
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... ended the German hope for a quick victory and set the stage for four years of deadlock and misery. Tuchman says nothing about Austria-Hungary and Serbia on the eve of the war, and nothing about the Russo-Austrian and Serbo-Austrian fronts once it began. ‘The inexhaustible problem of the Balkans divides itself naturally from the rest of the war,’ she thinks, and in any case nothing much happened ...
20 December 1990
From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... and their attendants, most of them taken by poor old Adam, with sardonic captions supplied by Sir Denis: ‘Marnie – wig, smell and all’; ‘Sam Smith, MP for Flint and religious bore’; ‘John Bulman, tutor, whisky lover and cheat’; ‘The misery of picnics’; ‘The Palship, dressed to kill ... ’ In triumphant contrast, there is: ‘Myself at 11, fisherman, child musicologist and ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy

6 February 2003
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... in Vietnam. He had made a short trip to Saigon in 1961 and concluded (as I did) that the slogan ‘Sink or swim with Ngo Dinh Diem’ was a recipe for failure. In July 1964, however, he was asked by John McNaughton, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, to join him in the Pentagon as his special assistant. The Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, had given ...


Robin Chapman

18 September 1986
Don Quixote 
by E.C. Riley.
Allen and Unwin, 224 pp., £18, February 1986, 0 04 800009 4
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Don Quixote – which was a dream 
by Kathy Acker.
Paladin, 207 pp., £2.95, April 1986, 0 586 08554 8
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... According to John Constable, the trouble with self-taught painters was that they had such bad teachers. Creative writing workshops notwithstanding, every novelist is self-taught. An enduring reminder of this is ...

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