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Thomas Jones: Jonathan Raban, 19 October 2006

Surveillance 
by Jonathan Raban.
Picador, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 330 41338 4
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... Jonathan Raban’s first work of fiction, Foreign Land, was published in 1985; his second, Waxwings, in 2003; Surveillance is his third. A gap of almost twenty years, and then two novels in fairly rapid succession. In the meantime, he has written a number of works of non-fiction: of memoir, reportage and – for want of a better way of putting it – travel writing ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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Coasting 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... the open road, Between the Woods and the Water is a lively, engaging book. On 1 April 1982, Jonathan Raban set out from Fowey Estuary in a 30-foot ketch, the Gosfield Maid, to sail round the British Isles. ‘I wanted to find out what, on earth or sea, made my peculiar country tick.’ His procedure was to deal with boat and sea for a while, call ...

Navigational Aids

Liam McIlvanney: Jonathan Raban and the ‘novel-sized city’, 6 November 2003

Waxwings 
by Jonathan Raban.
Picador, 311 pp., £15.99, August 2003, 0 330 41320 1
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... When the hero of Jonathan Raban’s new novel is scolded for living in a world of his ‘own construction’, the implied rebuke falls flat: this, for Raban, is the whole point of America. Raban’s travel books present America as a ‘glittering fiction’, a country shaped by the ardent imaginings of its immigrant millions and by the universal reach of its popular fables – ‘the mythology of the western and the romance of the frontier ...

Theroux and Through

Julian Barnes, 21 June 1984

The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 241 11086 6
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Doctor Slaughter 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 137 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 241 11255 9
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... writing – the traveller going to an unexciting location and reporting on his lack of excitement; Jonathan Raban and Hugo Williams purvey this mode as well. Is it that old-style travellers chose their destinations better? Did they perhaps fake their enthusiasm? Or was the world simply fresher then? Today’s travellers may claim a greater truthfulness by ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... by authors who save their best efforts for quite different sorts of writing. They may, as Jonathan Raban’s title suggests, be working for love as well as money, and it is easy to understand their wish to give their best work in this kind a more permanent form. Raban has some engaging remarks on this ...

Gentlemen Travellers

D.A.N. Jones, 15 September 1983

George Borrow: Eccentric 
by Michael Collie.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 521 24615 6
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A World of his Own: The Double Life of George Borrow 
by David Williams.
Oxford, 178 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 19 211762 9
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Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jan Morris.
Oxford, 279 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 19 281361 7
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Eothen 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jonathan Raban.
Century, 226 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 7126 0031 0
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... Road to Oxiana (1937) or Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazaar (1975).’ For the Century edition, Jonathan Raban likewise sees a link with Theroux and Robert Byron (‘Byron comes close to plagiarism,’ he suggests) and he adds Evelyn Waugh’s Labels and Graham Greene’s Journey without Maps to the list of Eothen’s presumed ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... his Homer before he hoped that somebody would hang him, and the same wish may well have filled Mr Raban’s bosom: the subject is so enormous and it has been considered time out of mind from so many points of view – physical, metaphysical, oceanographical, navigational, as a place for battle, swimming, fishing, drowning, shipwreck – that the boldest mind ...

Costa del Pym

Nicholas Spice, 4 July 1985

Crampton Hodnet 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 333 39129 2
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Foreign Land 
by Jonathan Raban.
Harvill, 352 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 00 222918 8
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Black Marina 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 157 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780571134670
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... parable. Last month, two novels appeared which suggest that this process may already be under way. Jonathan Raban’s Foreign Land and Black Marina by Emma Tennant are, from the formal standpoint, very different kinds of novel, but they share, quite strikingly, an un-English pre-occupation with the problem for the individual of belonging in ...

Audrey’s Eye

Anthony Quinn, 21 February 1991

Leaving Brooklyn 
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz.
Minerva, 146 pp., £4.99, December 1990, 0 7493 9072 7
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Surrogate City 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14432 2
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... they’d like to know. In his recent book of American peregrinations, Hunting Mister Heartbreak, Jonathan Raban fetches up amid the small, insular community of Guntersville, Alabama, where he meets a young motel-owner called Tim. Tim is writing a novel. Raban is consulted for a professional opinion of the work in ...

A House and its Heads

Christopher Ricks, 7 August 1980

Setting the World on Fire 
by Angus Wilson.
Secker, 296 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 9780436576041
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... a failure or a defeat. Some of the reasons may perhaps be glimpsed in what the novelist said to Jonathan Raban (the New Review, 1974): I believe that this charade-quality of society has been present since the 18th century. Ever since society has been so poised on the cataclysmic edges, there’s been a sense that people have been consciously doing ...
Selected Poems 1964-1983 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 262 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14619 8
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Terry Street 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, November 1986, 0 571 09713 8
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Selected Poems 1968-1983 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 109 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 571 14603 1
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Essential Reading 
by Peter Reading and Alan Jenkins.
Secker, 230 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 436 40988 7
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Stet 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 40 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 436 40989 5
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... compared by Robert Nye to the poems written by Thomas Hardy after the death of his wife, and by Jonathan Raban to In Memoriam. The subject is a precarious one for poetry, and Dunn has not always succeeded in avoiding the pitfalls. Poems like ‘Dining’ and ‘Arrangements’ are dangerously direct; Dunn’s most literal style can hardly sustain such ...

Gaiety

Frank Kermode, 8 June 1995

Angus Wilson 
by Margaret Drabble.
Secker, 714 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 436 20038 4
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... Anglia (‘full of fierce young smartyboots’, more interested in movies than books, according to Jonathan Raban). In fact he was very popular at UEA, but may have felt that some of the creative writers so successfully recruited and taught there found him old-fashioned and insufficiently ‘experimental’. Or perhaps more simply, as he said to Ian ...

War against the Grown-Ups

John Redmond, 21 August 1997

The Dumb House 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 198 pp., £9.99, May 1997, 0 224 04207 6
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A Normal Skin 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 61 pp., £7, May 1997, 0 224 04286 6
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... Adult responsibilities are represented as almost unbelievably dull. In The Society of the Poem Jonathan Raban argued that a significant number of post-Movement poets accepted the daily rituals of the postwar world as nearly sufficient for the inner life: ‘The imprints of the same mass images, the same commuting time-schemes, the same communal hopes ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al, 1 September 2005

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... of Britons doing well out of Thatcherism – sailing round the country for his book Coasting, Jonathan Raban noted the number of new yachts – the apocalyptic sound and rhetoric of post-punk seemed out of date. In the second half of the book, Reynolds describes how the movement’s more pragmatic musicians left the genre behind and made more ...

Dreamland

Jonathan Lamb: 18th-century seafaring, 20 March 2003

Voyages of Delusion: The Search for the Northwest Passage in the Age of Reason 
by Glyn Williams.
HarperCollins, 467 pp., £8.99, March 2003, 0 00 653213 6
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Voyage to Desolation Island 
by Jean-Paul Kauffmann, translated by Patricia Clancy.
Harvill, 177 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 1 86046 926 4
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... 18th century, and has recently enjoyed some popularity, not only in the work of writers such as Jonathan Raban and W.G. Sebald, but also in historical re-enactments such as Channel 4’s 1900 House and 1940s House, which have exposed their participants to the rigours of a previous age. BBC2 responded with The Trench, whose volunteers were subjected to ...

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