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John Barrell: On Allon White, 29 August 1991

... of his life. We started making trips to second-hand bookshops, in Eastbourne, Hastings, Tunbridge Wells. On a trip to Guildford he suddenly stopped outside a bag shop and offered to buy me a pigskin wallet. The book on transgression is fascinated by the unstable symbolic status of the pig, which it describes as the most useful of all animals to think ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... Surely this is neither fine writing nor plain writing, but just bad writing? But if Kipling or Wells might in their own ways have done Erewhon better, and E.M. Forster The Way of All Flesh, that does not affect Butler’s influence and individuality, his power to create himself as ‘master of his life’. It is significant that Virginia Woolf’s praise ...

Maughamisms

Elizabeth Mavor, 18 July 1985

A Traveller in Romance 
by W. Somerset Maugham, edited by John Whitehead.
Muller, Blond and White, 275 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 85634 184 3
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... light of one intriguing anecdote included in this book. It appears that on a visit to Maugham H.G. Wells drew his fingers along the edition of his complete works that he had presented to his fellow author. ‘You know, they’re dead,’ he said. ‘They deal with matters of topical interest and now of course they’re unreadable.’ Maugham considered they ...

The Great Copyright Disaster

John Sutherland, 12 January 1995

Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright 
by Mark Rose.
Harvard, 176 pp., £21.95, October 1993, 0 674 05308 7
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Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation 
by Susan Stewart.
Duke, 353 pp., £15.95, November 1994, 0 8223 1545 9
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The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature 
edited by Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi.
Duke, 562 pp., £42.75, January 1994, 0 8223 1412 6
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... and the answer is another 20 years of imperfectly edited (or unedited) Orwell, Greene, Eliot, Wells and any other canonical author who died after 1925. The proposed reform is particularly tantalising for scholars like Patrick Parrinder, who has been working for some years on a revised team-edition of H.G. Wells (died ...

Love among the Cheeses

Lidija Haas: Life with Amis and Ayer, 8 September 2011

The House in France: A Memoir 
by Gully Wells.
Bloomsbury, 307 pp., £16.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 0809 2
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... it have been like to fall in love with the young Martin Amis, ‘the most fascinating man’ Gully Wells had ever met? ‘Only the most awful clichés,’ she tells us, ‘could possibly do justice to the way I felt.’ He was ‘very funny and very clever’; ‘he made me laugh and told me things I didn’t know.’ She is a bit more specific about his ...

Roads

John Burnside, 9 December 1999

... spill of figs                        the unexpected chill of spice-haunted wells or miles of cicadas                                     stopped in the noontime lull though we guessed that the angel of roads or the panic of standstills was less than the weight of ourselves being lost or found ...

Killing Stones

Keith Thomas: Holy Places, 19 May 2011

The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland 
by Alexandra Walsham.
Oxford, 637 pp., £35, February 2011, 978 0 19 924355 6
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... had to be destroyed, but the temples themselves should be kept and converted to Christian uses. Wells and healing springs that had been frequented in pagan times were rededicated to Christian saints. St Winefride’s Well in North Wales attracted royal patronage and papal indulgences. St Patrick’s Purgatory was a complex of caves on an island in Lough ...

Rachel and Her Race

Patrick Parrinder, 18 August 1994

Constructions of ‘the Jew’ in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875-1945 
by Bryan Cheyette.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £35, November 1993, 0 521 44355 5
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The Jewish Heritage in British History: Englishness and Jewishness 
edited by Tony Kushner.
Cass, 234 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7146 3464 6
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... movement. Cheyette traces the Disraelian influence on the ‘imperial Gothic’ fiction of John Buchan and, more controversially, borrows August Bebel’s phrase ‘the socialism of fools’ as a blanket term for the ideas of Shaw and Wells. Bebel’s concern was to attack the kind of socialism, typified in a British ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... of them was that the Church bought out its partners at an early stage and at a generous price. Sir John Hall, the Newcastle entrepreneur, was bought out of the Gateshead Metro shopping centre before it was built. He got £40m, but the Church kept losing money on the project until it was finally sold at a staggering loss in 1990. Sir ...

In the Studio

John-Paul Stonard: Howard Hodgkin, 23 January 2014

... which seems to have been left bare, matches the striations in the brushmarks below. The grain wells around a knot, which suddenly makes sense of the image as a seascape with a setting sun. ‘The Sea, Goa’ (2013) The picture recalls an experience, someone close to Hodgkin told me, of sitting last year on a terrace looking out onto the beach at Goa ...

Radical Aliens

David Cole: The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair, 22 October 2009

The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial 
by Moshik Temkin.
Yale, 316 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 300 12484 2
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... and intellectuals, including Stalin, Einstein, Henry Ford, Mussolini, Fritz Kreisler, Thomas Mann, John Dos Passos, H.L. Mencken, Anatole France, H.G. Wells, the dean of Harvard Law School, Roscoe Pound and 205 members of the law school’s 1927 graduating class. Interest in the case did not die with the men’s ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... heroes outwit von Stumm and Hilda von Einem as they did in Greenmantle. Giles Railton, the hero of John Gardner’s novel, is a scion of the landed gentry and works in the mysterious upper reaches of the Foreign Office. There he recruits his offspring and nephews and nieces into the ranks of the secret service, just in time for the First World War. But all ...

The Frowniest Spot on Earth

Will Self: Life in the Aerotropolis, 28 April 2011

Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next 
by John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84614 100 3
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... While John Kasarda shares the title page of this scientific romance masquerading as a work of urban theory, Aerotropolis was written by Greg Lindsay alone. Kasarda, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s business school, may be a peculiar sort of Johnson, but Lindsay, a business journalist, is nonetheless his committed Boswell ...

Boomster and the Quack

Stefan Collini: How to Get on in the Literary World, 2 November 2006

Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 
by Philip Waller.
Oxford, 1181 pp., £85, April 2006, 0 19 820677 1
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... Hugh Benson, Laurence Binyon, Robert Bridges, Hall Caine, G.K. Chesterton, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Maurice Hewlett, Anthony Hope, W.J. Locke, E.V. Lucas, J.W. Mackail, John Masefield, A.E.W. Mason, Gilbert Murray, Henry Newbolt, Owen Seaman, G.M. Trevelyan, H.G. ...

Bringing it home to Uncle Willie

Frank Kermode, 6 May 1982

Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Roger Tennant.
Sheldon Press, 276 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 85969 358 9
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Edward Garnett: A Life in Literature 
by George Jefferson.
Cape, 350 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 224 01488 9
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The Edwardian Novelists 
by John Batchelor.
Duckworth, 251 pp., £18, February 1982, 0 7156 1109 7
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The Uses of Obscurity: The Fiction of Early Modernism 
by Allon White.
Routledge, 190 pp., £12, August 1981, 0 7100 0751 5
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... preferred The Country House to The Man of Property, which is very hard to explain; he turned down Wells’s The Time Machine, which is less difficult, for he liked ‘Hogarthian truthfulness’ better than fantasy; and he wrote a respectful but dismissive report on Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist, saying it needed a lot of work. It was ‘too ...

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