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Diary

Julian Evans: What might Larbaud have thought?

31 July 1997
... In Nabokov’s witty and disarming ‘Ballad of Longwood Glen’, published in the New Yorker in 1957, shy, dreamy Art Longwood climbs a tree on a family picnic to retrieve his son’s ball – and carries on climbing: Up and up Art Longwood swarmed and shinned, And the leaves said yes to the questioning wind. What tiaras of gardens! What torrents of light! How accessible ether! How easy flight! His ...
13 May 1999
Trois Chants Funébres pour le Kosovo 
by Ismail Kadare, translated by Jusuf Vrioni.
Fayard, 119 pp., frs 6.90, April 1998, 2 213 60180 1
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... Ismail Kadare knew what was coming six years ago. ‘The Albanians have kept extremely calm in Kosovo,’ he told me, ‘because they know that the Serbs are only waiting for a sign of provocation to start a terrible massacre. Milosevic is biding his time. All his plans are ready. He is encouraged by the passivity of the European nations and the US ... The Slavs are very good at these nationalistic ...

Candle Moments

Andrew O’Hagan: Norman Lewis’s Inventions

25 September 2008
Semi-Invisible Man: The Life of Norman Lewis 
by Julian Evans.
Cape, 792 pp., £25, June 2008, 978 0 224 07275 5
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... He was amazed that this brilliant man, who had seen ‘so many people defeated by age, power and success and written so convincingly about them should have fallen into the trap set by life’. In JulianEvans’s depiction of the Havana scene in Semi-Invisible Man, we begin to understand the force of Hemingway’s decline and its effect on Lewis’s own persona as an author for whom the boundaries ...
22 December 1983
The Other Side of the Fire 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 7156 1809 1
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London Tales 
edited by Julian Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 241 11123 4
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Londoners 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 413 49350 4
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Good Friends, Just 
by Anne Leaton.
Chatto, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2710 4
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... Against the ruins of love and idealism, Alice Thomas Ellis shores up the fragmentary consolations of art. Her books are beautifully fashioned, tailored, cut from superior cloth: you’re aware of the chunks from the fabric of experience that she has rejected, and her characters know just enough of the outside world not to be able to make sense of themselves. The setting (Oxfordshire/Berkshire? – ...

Dead Man’s Voice

Jeremy Harding: A Dictator Novel

19 January 2017
The Dictator’s Last Night 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by Julian Evans.
Gallic, 199 pp., £7.99, October 2015, 978 1 910477 13 7
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... I am not​ a dictator,’ the hero of Yasmina Khadra’s latest novel assures himself as his end approaches. ‘I am the uncompromising sentinel, the she-wolf protecting her little ones … the untameable jealous tiger that urinates on international conventions to mark his territory.’ Not long afterwards we find him stumbling through a field as his jubilant enemies close in. The Dictator’s ...

Jesus and Cain

Edmund Leach

2 December 1982
The Sacred Executioner: Human Sacrifice and the Legacy of Guilt 
by Hyam Maccoby.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 500 01281 4
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... are ignored: Jewish authors get similar treatment except at odd moments when they happen to have said something that fits in with Maccoby’s argument. Even the scholarly popularisers are neglected. Julian Morgenstern is only mentioned in passing and Raphael Patai is not mentioned at all; nor is Louis Ginzberg’s seven-volume The Legends of the Jews, which is, by general consent, the major classic in ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian​ Bell: Farmer Eliot

3 February 2011
Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... were the nearest indigenous parallel to the work of Continental avantgardists such as Mondrian, and devised his own handsomely workmanlike ‘Constructions’. In 1935 Piper’s girlfriend Myfanwy Evans launched Axis, a review of ‘“Abstract” Painting and Sculpture’ that brought their English contemporaries – Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ivon Hitchens – into a common fold with Kandinsky ...

Disorderly Cities

Richard J. Evans: WW2 Town Planning

5 December 2013
A Blessing in Disguise: War and Town Planning in Europe, 1940-45 
edited by Jörn Düwel and Niels Gutschow.
DOM, 415 pp., €98, August 2013, 978 3 86922 295 0
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... animated the 150 reports published between 1940 and 1952 which discussed how to build the ‘city of tomorrow’ on the ruins of bombed-out towns and cities in the United Kingdom. The Blitz, as Julian Huxley remarked, was ‘a planner’s windfall’. In their plans for London, Ernö Goldfinger and E.J. Carter said their aim was to give the capital ‘order and efficiency and beauty and ...
8 May 1997
Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... Such memorials had become almost a convention of the times, at least on the intellectual left – Frank was both intellectual and Communist – following similar books in memory of John Cornford, Julian Bell and David Haden-Guest, all killed in the Spanish Civil War. (The present title, Beyond the Frontier, nods towards Stansky and Abrahams’s 1966 Journey to the Frontier, a reworking of the lives ...

Making a Costume Drama out of a Crisis

Jenny Diski: ‘Downton Abbey’

21 June 2012
Downton Abbey: Series One and Two 
Universal DVD, £39.99, November 2011Show More
Upstairs Downstairs: Complete Series One and Two 
BBC DVD, £17.99, April 2012Show More
Park Lane 
by Frances Osborne.
Virago, 336 pp., £14.99, June 2012, 978 1 84408 479 1
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Habits of the House 
by Fay Weldon.
Head of Zeus, 320 pp., £14.99, July 2012, 978 1 908800 04 6
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... a mildly amusing self-conscious pastiche, though it wasn’t clear why a film-maker who could produce Nashville and Short Cuts would bother. The writer credited with Gosford Park was the now ennobled Julian Fellowes, who strongly disputes a claim made by the film director Monte Hellman that ‘the whole script was rewritten on set and not one of his lines of dialogue remained in the movie.’ Ten years ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde

5 February 1998
The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... at least three more versions of this episode since the Cambridge Companion went to press. Brian Gilbert’s film – which, rather mysteriously, refers in the titles to ‘an original screenplay by Julian Mitchell from Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann’ – shows a phalanx of unpainted male prostitutes, leaning on some railings. Watching for a cab, Stephen Fry’s Wilde makes eye contact with one of ...
4 August 1988
... who agreed, but said we couldn’t republish them, and then we discovered that she was still alive. I read her immediately after the war, and I remember Anthony Powell said: ‘Oh you must meet Julian Maclaren-Ross, because he knows all about Jean Rhys.’ He asked me for a drink to meet him, and Maclaren-Ross said she’d died the other day in a sanatorium. So I really did think she was dead, and ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett

24 June 1993
... to pervert the course of public justice between 2 December 1974 and 23 October 1975 – to which the defendants pleaded not guilty. Six men and six women then took their place in the jury box, and Mr Julian Bevan QC stood up to open for the Crown. According to lawyers and journalists who have observed him at work, Bevan is a ‘pleasant, mild sort of man’, ‘jolly in a hail-fellow-well-met sort of ...

The Club and the Mob

James Meek: The Shock of the News

6 December 2018
Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now 
by Alan Rusbridger.
Canongate, 464 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 78689 093 1
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... the Club and the Mob, in other words, but wanting to be accepted by both, and as a result not quite trusted by either. Reflecting on the Guardian’s mutually beneficial but uneasy relationship with Julian Assange during the WikiLeaks affair, Rusbridger writes: I once remarked to a senior intelligence figure that the British and American governments, instead of condemning our role, should go down on ...

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