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Us and Them

Robert Taubman

4 September 1980
The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... and Agnes had walked through a time gate, back seventy-five years to the days when the Empire was built of solid dark mahogany and pictures of dead animals.’ A Secret Service chief disappears in JosephHone’s The Flowers of the Forest and ambiguous allegiances are disentangled in a quest across Europe, as well as back in time to the Cambridge of Philby – actually, to a stop on the Oxford to ...
8 May 1986
12 Edmondstone Street 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 134 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3970 6
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The Shakespeare Wallah 
by Geoffrey Kendal and Clare Colvin.
Sidgwick, 186 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 283 99230 1
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Children of the Country: Coast to Coast across Africa 
by Joseph Hone.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 241 11742 9
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... tend to take precedence, and if from time to time the writer becomes aware of the fact he may be tempted to over-compensate with self-conscious bursts of local colour. This is the trap into which JosephHone has fallen in his Children of the Country. He has some excuse, perhaps, in that he was frustrated in his original purpose, which was to cross the African continent from the Indian Ocean to the ...

Dipper

Jason Harding: George Moore

21 September 2000
George Moore, 1852-1933 
by Adrian Frazier.
Yale, 604 pp., £29.95, May 2000, 0 300 08245 2
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... more often than not as source material for whimsical and mildly defamatory character sketches. Adrian Frazier’s painstakingly researched new biography of Moore marks a considerable advance on JosephHone’s respectful but pedestrian 1936 standard biography and Tony Gray’s lively but unscholarly 1996 Life. Moore was born in 1852 into the West of Ireland ‘hard-riding country gentry ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks

18 August 1983
Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... fakes a new page 21 to replace the old one which listed the illustrations, and nowhere does it say anything at all about its having taken the liberty of expunging them. Again, though the memoir by JosephHone is extremely good, and has done better than wear well (it has weathered well), there is now something needlessly frustrating about all the excisions and truncations; forty years on, these ...

A Lazarus beside Me

Avies Platt: An Encounter with Yeats

26 August 2015
... by love for another man as I was blinded, had eyes to see at the time, and had behaved more graciously and more gratefully. But if so they did not come forward, at least not in the press. Then​ JosephHone undertook the Life and appealed in the Times. I wrote to him, but guardedly, and before I could say fully what I wanted to say I became very seriously ill. I recovered and had another chance yet ...

The Playboy of West 29th Street

Colm Tóibín: Yeats’s Father in Exile

25 January 2018
... after one of his supporters, indignant at the way he had been treated by the Royal Hibernian Academy, decided to mount an exhibition at her own expense of his work and that of the artist Nathaniel Hone. The reviews were good, as was attendance at the show. John Butler Yeats was becoming famous in Dublin, but he was still broke: he stayed on in the city only because he did not have the fare to ...

Outside the text

Marilyn Butler

19 December 1985
The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 352 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 19 811730 2
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The Politics of Language: 1791-1819 
by Olivia Smith.
Oxford, 269 pp., £19.50, December 1984, 0 19 812817 7
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... being simple-minded and ignorant.’ Olivia Smith’s Politics of Language is also densely informative in a very particularised way. Its heroes are the popular rhetoricians Paine, Cobbett, Spence and Hone; its leading theorist, John Horne Tooke. A book concerned with so many minor figures may seem discouragingly narrow, not perhaps to political and social historians, but to most critics, even those ...
7 March 2019
Poems of Sextus Propertius 
edited and translated by Patrick Worsnip.
Carcanet, 253 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 1 78410 651 5
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... verba levis’, which may mean something like ‘Cynthia: knockout beauty, but her words are featherweights.’ Katz renders this by ‘Cynthia, potent form: light word, Cynthia’. As early as 1577 Joseph Scaliger had argued that this line was not just the product of an utterly obscure poet (‘poeta obscurissima’) but was in need of emendation because the neuter plural verba (‘words’) did not ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?

20 February 2003
Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... estranged husband, was executed after the 1916 Rising in Dublin, Yeats talked once more of marriage to Maud Gonne, and then became involved with her daughter Iseult, to whom he also proposed. JosephHone writes about this in his authorised biography of the poet, published in 1942. When Iseult finally rejected him in the summer of 1917, he decided to propose to a young Englishwoman, Georgie Hyde ...
2 August 1984
... appearance, three days running, in your paper when the then editor reproduced a small photograph of a small portrait copied from a very small photograph of a young woman named, so Mossy averred, Nora Joseph Barnacle. A name, I need not tell you, well known by then throughout the world of literature.’ ‘Barnacle?’ said Hunty. ‘But that is a kind of goose.’ ‘Mossy’s story about it was that ...

Pissing on Idiots

Colin Burrow: Extreme Editing

6 October 2011
Richard Bentley: Poetry and Enlightenment 
by Kristine Louise Haugen.
Harvard, 333 pp., £29.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05871 2
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... among the earliest surviving Greek texts. Bentley grinds through the epistles, showing that the customs they record and much of their vocabulary must date from centuries after Phalaris. He began to hone his own distinctive style, that of an infinitely learned man whose spirit was entirely untainted by generosity: ‘A strange piece of stupidity, or else contempt of his Readers,’ he growled, ‘to ...
6 December 1984
The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765 
edited by David Vaisey.
Oxford, 386 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 19 211782 3
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John Clare’s Autobiographical Writings 
edited by Eric Robinson.
Oxford, 185 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 19 211774 2
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John Clare: The Journals, Essays, and the Journey from Essex 
edited by Anne Tibble.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 85635 344 2
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The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare 
edited by Margaret Grainger.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, January 1984, 0 19 818517 0
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John Clare and the Folk Tradition 
by George Deacon.
Sinclair Browne, 397 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 86300 008 8
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... the poor old man at last so angry that he cried and bellowed about like a great calf. But it’s not long before we discover that the Fullers could be as sharp over money as Will Piper. Next June Joseph Fuller was entrusted by Turner with the task of beating down a man who wanted nine guineas for a horse, but Joseph bought the animal himself, and barefacedly informed Turner that the price was now £ ...

War and Peace

A.J.P. Taylor

2 October 1980
Humanity in Warfare: the Modern History of the International Law of Armed Conflicts 
by Geoffrey Best.
Weidenfeld, 400 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 297 77737 8
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Pacifism in Britain 1914-1945: the Defining of a Faith 
by Martin Caedel.
Oxford, 342 pp., £12.50, August 1980, 0 19 821882 6
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... 19th century: the Peace Movement, which everyone noticed and commended, and the War Movement, which many people ignored and which yet proved more powerful. Best has found a wonderful quotation from Joseph Conrad, who described the Hague Tribunal as ‘a solemnly official recognition of the Earth as a House of Strife’. Conrad continued: ‘War has made peace altogether in its own image; a martial ...

Who does that for anyone?

Adam Shatz: Jean-Pierre Melville

20 June 2019
Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Solitaire 
by Bertrand Teissier.
Fayard, 272 pp., €22, October 2017, 978 2 213 70573 6
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Jean-Pierre Melville, une vie 
by Antoine de Baecque.
Seuil, 244 pp., €32, October 2017, 978 2 02 137107 9
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... that Robert Bresson borrowed for his 1951 adaptation of Georges Bernanos’s Diary of a Country Priest. Melville’s early films were bookish, and rather talky. But in the early 1960s he began to hone back his dialogue. The first seven minutes of Le Samouraï (1967), in which Alain Delon plays the hitman Jef Costello, unfold silently; the heist in Le Cercle rouge (1970) goes on for half an hour ...

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