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22 January 1981
George Orwell: A Life 
by Bernard Crick.
Secker, 473 pp., £10, November 1980, 9780436114502
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Class, Culture and Social Change: A New View of the 1930s 
edited by Frank Gloversmith.
Harvester, 285 pp., £20, July 1980, 0 85527 938 9
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Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties 
edited by Jon Clark, Margot Heinemann, David Margolies and Carole Snee.
Lawrence and Wishart, 279 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 0 85315 419 8
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... Professor Crick’s subject is important and his research has evidently been diligent. We now know a lot more about Orwell than we did, and the increment of knowledge is not always trivial. Why, then, is it impossible to commend this book with warmth? For two main reasons: first, in a work of such length the prevalence of carelessly written pages is a strong disincentive to continuing (and of course ...
23 April 1987
Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... western Ireland nor southern England Cancels this interlude; what chance misspelt May never now be righted by my choice. But I have seen no evidence that the move to England amounted to exile. (Jon Stallworthy is writing the Life of MacNeice and may have evidence in hand.) After Sherborne, MacNeice went to Marlborough, well enough described in his unfinished and posthumously published ...

Grand Theories

W.G. Runciman

17 October 1985
The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences 
edited by Quentin Skinner.
Cambridge, 215 pp., £17.50, July 1985, 0 521 26692 0
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by Erik Olin Wright.
Verso, 344 pp., £20, September 1985, 0 86091 104 7
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Powers and Liberties: The Causes and Consequences of the Rise of the West 
by John Hall.
Blackwell, 282 pp., £19.50, September 1985, 0 631 14542 7
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... oppositions and constraints encoded in diverse cultural forms are not scientific in any conventional sense but, as it were, musical compositions to be interpreted, like all cultural forms, as such. Clark: the historians of the Annales School, having started out from a ‘structuralist’ rejection of the presuppositions of both cultural anthropology and narrative history, have come round after all to ...

How Movies End

David Thomson: John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

9 February 2020
by John Boorman.
Faber, 237 pp., £20, February, 978 0 571 35379 8
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... a typewriter by his mum. He wrote anything he could think of, and that turned into scripts and television documentaries. He got the chance to try a feature, Catch Us If You Can (1965), with the Dave Clark Five. It won an audience and attracted some American interest. So that’s how Boorman ended up in Soho one night discussing a bad script from a Donald Westlake novel, The Hunter, with Marvin, who ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland

17 July 1997
Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... who could not have done what they did had he not shown the way: Max Brand (penname of Frederick Faust – ‘the Jewish cowboy’, as he called himself). Ernest Haycox, T.T. Flynn, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, T.V. Olsen. (Pieces by these authors are included in Jon Tuska’s 1995 collection, The Western Story: A Chronological Treasury.) Good as the best works of these writers are, and despite the recent ...

More about Marilyn

Michael Church

20 February 1986
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 414 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 575 03641 9
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Norma Jeane: The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe 
by Fred Lawrence Guiles.
Granada, 377 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 246 12307 9
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Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton 
by C. David Heymann.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 09 146010 7
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Deams that money can buy: The Tragic Life of Libby Holman 
by Jon​ Bradshaw.
Cape, 431 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 224 02846 4
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All Those Tomorrows 
by Mai Zetterling.
Cape, 230 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 224 01841 8
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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady 
by Florence King.
Joseph, 278 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7181 2611 4
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... first patron told her she reminded him of a Broadway star called Marilyn Miller: she obediently assumed the Christian name and added the surname ten years later. As a child she had fantasised that Clark Gable was her real father, and hung his picture alongside Abraham Lincoln’s on her wall. When she got to act with him, her perverse behaviour helped bring on his fatal heart attack: she herself ...

Aunt Twackie’s Bazaar

Andy Beckett: Seventies Style

19 August 2010
70s Style and Design 
by Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.90, November 2009, 978 0 500 51483 2
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... and sometimes intersecting with, the equally unresolved quarrel about 1970s politics – has been one of the main ways Britons have chewed over their postwar history. In 1988, the cultural historian Jon Savage, who had spent the 1970s as a young rock journalist writing doomy but excited pieces about punk and urban decay, published a cover feature about the decade for the style magazine the Face. It ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott

23 May 2019
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... rapid cookie crumble. For all his purported solipsism, Ellis has proved to be a skilful interviewer as well, with a varied roster of guests including the directors Walter Hill and Larry Clark, the actresses Anne Heche and Illeana Douglas, and the uncontainable Kanye West. His conversations with fellow novelists and screenwriters are among the best I’ve heard, insider sessions of ...

Best Remain Seated

Jeremy Harding: Travel guides

1 January 1998
by Hugh Finlay and Geoff Crowther.
Lonely Planet, 376 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 86442 460 4
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by Robert Pelton Young.
Fielding, 632 pp., £13.95, December 1995, 1 56952 026 7
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Asia's Top Dive Sites 
edited by Fiona Nichols and Michael Stachels.
Fielding, 228 pp., £13.95, December 1996, 1 56952 129 8
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Jon​ Murray et al.
Lonely Planet, 658 pp., £13.99, January 1998, 0 86442 508 2
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Southern Africa 
by Richard Cox.
Thornton Cox, 474 pp., £11.95, July 1995, 0 7818 0388 8
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The World's Most Dangerous Places 
by Robert Pelton Young.
Fielding, 1048 pp., £13.95, December 1997, 1 56952 104 2
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Barbara McCrea et al.
Rough Guides, 697 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85828 238 1
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The Good Honeymoon Guide 
by Lucy Horne.
Trailblazer, 320 pp., £11.95, March 1997, 1 873756 12 7
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Amnesty International Report 1997 
Amnesty International, 378 pp., £18, June 1997, 0 86210 267 7Show More
by Barnaby Rogerson.
Cadogan, 596 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 1 86011 043 6
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... numbers, ‘a lightweight sweater’ and shorts. The place to go for all this is Willis and Geiger (head office: Madison, Wisconsin), ‘the firm which outfitted Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable’ for their tours on the Dark Continent. The person I’d prefer to look like is Trevor Howard, the epitome of Mr Sensible, even with his kneecaps bared, but I’ve a feeling W&G can stretch ...


Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis

6 September 2007
C. Day-Lewis: A Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... over the evident discontinuities between his pre- and postwar personae, but the concern with the ‘role’ of poetry was indeed a constant. One sign of his standing was the invitation to give the Clark Lectures at Cambridge, published in 1947 as The Poetic Image, one of his several attempts to lay down the law about the lawless nature of poetry. He and Lehmann tried their hand at founding a new ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice

3 March 2011
Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... is accompanied by a name change: he starts to sign off as Louis, his middle name, rather than Freddie.) The MacNeice on display in these letters is much more sexually ambiguous than the one in Jon Stallworthy’s fond, donnish 1995 biography: ‘as many of his contemporaries were engaged in what he later called “mild homosexual romances”,’ Stallworthy wrote, ‘he singled out a “dark ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor

1 June 2016
David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... of European anti-Nazi intellectuals, known to some on the staff as the ‘German exotics’. In fact, only Sebastian Haffner and E.F. Schumacher were German; Isaac Deutscher, Arthur Koestler and Jon Kimche came respectively from Poland, Hungary and Switzerland. Several were Jews; another new recruit, the reporter Cyril Dunn, wrote that Astor had an ‘indestructible respect for the brilliance of ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice

7 February 2008
Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... episodes that made sense where the big picture did not. Above all, interruption shook up habit, rebooting the imagination. Persons from Porlock was itself the product of elective interruption. As Jon Stallworthy points out, in the 1995 biography that we depend on for MacNeice’s later years, he was ‘making a fresh start at 54’ when he went half-time at the BBC. It was a bold but ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson

14 January 2002
... copies and it was go, go, go, knocking on Darlingtonian doors, being told to clear off mostly, but every so often someone would buy the thing. A lot of this was going on in those days. The figure of Jon Silkin, for example, would arrive in Oxford with copies of Stand in a holdall and he would go round the colleges and people would condescend to him dreadfully. His forbearance and patience as he went ...

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