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The Essential Orwell

Frank Kermode, 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 they are shown up all the more by their proximity to quotations from Orwell); and secondly, Orwell was a literary figure as well as a political thinker, and Crick’s literary touch is far from certain ...

Dear boy, I’d rather see you in your coffin

Jon Day: Paid to Race, 16 July 2020

To Hell and Back: An Autobiography 
by Niki Lauda.
Ebury, 314 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 5291 0679 4
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A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Britain’s First Great Grand Prix Driver, Richard Seaman 
by Richard Williams.
Simon and Schuster, 388 pp., £20, March, 978 1 4711 7935 8
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... race. He sometimes came across as almost pathologically unsentimental. The Scottish driver Jim Clark, the only ‘real candidate for hero-worship’ he ever had, died in a crash in 1968, a week before Lauda’s first race. ‘What a shame,’ Lauda thought. ‘He’ll be missed.’ After Roger Williamson was burned to death at Zandvoort in 1973, while his ...
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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... 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 autobiography, The strings are false (1965). One of MacNeice’s ...

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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Classes 
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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... 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 the study of both symbols and events. Shouldn’t all ...

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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... 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 speculated that this might have been her revenge on the ...

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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... 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 successes of ...

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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... 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 was headlined ‘The Decade that Taste Forgot’. The ...

How Movies End

David Thomson: John Boorman’s Quiet Ending, 20 February 2020

Conclusions 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 237 pp., £20, February, 978 0 571 35379 8
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... 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 was staying in London. ‘What do you think?’ Marvin ...

Best Remain Seated

Jeremy Harding: Travel guides, 1 January 1998

Kenya 
by Hugh Finlay and Geoff Crowther.
Lonely Planet, 376 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 86442 460 4
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Borneo 
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
Morocco 
by Barnaby Rogerson.
Cadogan, 596 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 1 86011 043 6
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... 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 to this. They’ll also be able to sort me out with a pair ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... 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 literary shoptalk that discuss the mechanics of the trade instead ...

Hierophants

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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... 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 literary journal, a fever that comes over so many writers at ...

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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... 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-haired boy of 16 who had large grey feminine eyes and asked ...

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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... 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 characteristic step. Auden said in his memorial address that, in ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 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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... 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 Jewish mind’. Their foreignness made a startling ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... 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 about trying to sell it used to impress me. So I started ...

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