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Richard Luckett, 21 December 1989

I.A. Richards: His Life and Work 
by John PaulRusso.
Routledge, 843 pp., £40, May 1989, 0 415 03134 6
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... pages long, the composition of which began with Richards’s knowledge and with his co-operation. John PaulRusso 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 systematically 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 sense right away that you were in for the long haul. At the end of this first instalment the poet is still only 33 years old and has another 44 years to go; no doubt they will be less action-packed, more sedate – containable, one hopes, in only one more volume ...

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
by John Cornwell.
Viking, 301 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 670 82387 2
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... 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 evasions cloud the issue. His hypothesis does not require him ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... 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 grave shaft, without any of the tortured grinding and ...

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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... 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 reprinted from it, far outside Baden. Goethe came across an ...

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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... 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 grabbed.’ Juleson is an old lag in San Quentin State ...

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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... 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 there in the period she covers. More surprising is that in ...

’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 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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... 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 budding atheist’. A Welsh Childhood is also strengthened by ...

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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... 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 McNaughton responsibility for co-ordinating strategy towards ...

Cervantics

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 Cervantes’s relationship with his equivocal double masterpiece Don Quixote, and the most persuasive analyst of both book and author remains E ...

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