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A Dream in the Presence of Reason

Clive James, 15 October 1981

L’opera in versi 
by Eugenio Montale, edited by Rosanna Bettarini and Gianfranco Contini.
Einaudi, 1225 pp., £26.15
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Xenia and Motets 
by Eugenio Montale, translated by Kate Hughes.
Agenda, 45 pp., £3, December 1980, 0 902400 25 8
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The Man I Pretend to Be: The Colloquies and Selected Poems of Guido Gozzano 
edited by Michael Palma.
Princeton, 254 pp., £9.30, July 1981, 0 691 06467 9
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... which cribs can come in handy even with the later poems at their most prosaic. By this measure, Kate Hughes’s testo parallelo of Xenia and the Mottetti is welcome. It would be an even better crib if it were more strict. Possibly in deference to poetic imperatives of her own, Miss Hughes does quite a lot of leaving ...

Only Incognito

Gaby Wood, 6 July 1995

Katharine Hepburn 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 549 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81319 6
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... for and partly about her by Philip Barry. It had a two-year run on Broadway, and (since Howard Hughes had bought her the rights) she starred in the film version for MGM. Quite apart from the life it portrayed, for a time The Philadelphia Story was her life. Many scripts were written with her in mind, and Dudley Nichols wrote some of her best comic lines in ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... to say nothing of attractive, smart and rich – as her heroine, the financial analyst Kate Reddy. When we first meet Kate she is in her kitchen at 1.37 a.m., ‘distressing’ store-bought mince pies with a rolling-pin to make them look homemade for a school fête. Kate may ...

‘Mmmmm’ not ‘Hmmm’

Michael Wood: Katharine Hepburn, 11 September 2003

Kate Remembered 
by A. Scott Berg.
Simon and Schuster, 318 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 7432 0676 2
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... Hepburn says. ‘With the same man.’ Berg has some sharp remarks of his own – of Howard Hughes he says: ‘He liked to act on the spur of the moment, but only after he had thought through the details of his action’ – and often sees himself as caught up in old movies. He comes to regard his dinners with Hepburn and her long-time companion as ...

Quod erat Hepburn

John Bayley, 3 April 1986

Katharine Hepburn: A Biography 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 395 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 340 33719 2
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... the somewhat confused statement that ‘there are women and there are women – and then there is Kate. There are actresses and actresses – then there is Hepburn.’ The Garbos and Monroes had been nothing until they were stars, and then they could only be themselves as stars. Hepburn remained Hepburn. Sumus quod sumus was the motto of the citizens of Lake ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... Lawrence, Wittgenstein, Che Guevara, Greta Garbo, Edith Sitwell, JFK, Maria Callas, Howard Hughes, Andy Warhol, Glenn Gould, the late Princess of Wales) down to minor bog-sprites such as Eartha Kitt, Cher or Quentin Crisp. (Such lists are infinitely expandable.) What links each of these disparate individuals is a singularity so tangible as to border on ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

Duffy 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... of feminism, a group of central characters turn to lighter things: ‘Over coffee, Paul, Hugo and Kate took refuge in gossip about that perennially interesting topic, the editorship of the New Statesman, lapsing into the parochial and the malicious in a way that certainly amused them, if not their guests.’ The principals in this novel belong to that small ...

Diary

Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... place traumatised. No one talking about anything else. The Speaker gave a right bollocking to Kate Hoey and Norman Baker for allegedly colluding with our oppressors in the media. A good five minutes’ worth. I’ve never seen him so worked up. Actually, it was way over the top. Gave the impression he is rattled, which I imagine he is.  Then to a ...

Australia strikes back

Les Murray, 13 October 1988

Snakecharmers in Texas 
by Clive James.
Cape, 373 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 224 02571 6
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... are the sensuous ‘Dream of Zinc Cream’, on body-surfing, and Mr James’s tribute to Robert Hughes’s magnificent The Fatal Shore, the book in which the story of the convicts in Australia, related in many accounts, is finally unforgettably told. This essay is amongst other things a passionate defence of the benefits expatriation has brought to a number ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... Parliamentary Candidates into the strobes, to question, canvass and press the sweaty flesh. Simon Hughes of the Liberal Democrats, the local MP for Southwark and Bermondsey, regularly boasts of his clubbing credentials, gasping for credibility each time he does so. This combination of the carefree and the caring may not be Utopian, but it’s full of ...

Enthusiasts

Anita Brookner, 3 February 1983

Where I Used to Play on the Green 
by Glyn Hughes.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 575 02997 8
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Virginie 
by John Hawkes.
Chatto, 212 pp., £8.50, January 1983, 0 7011 3908 0
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Ancient Enemies 
by Elizabeth North.
Cape, 230 pp., £7.95, November 1982, 0 224 02052 8
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Dancing Girls 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 01835 3
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Master of the Game 
by Sidney Sheldon.
Collins, 495 pp., £8.95, January 1983, 0 00 222614 6
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... Glyn Hughes’s novel, Where I Used to Play on the Green, won both the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Fiction Prize in 1982, yet it received not a tenth of the publicity awarded to winners of the Booker and the Whitbread. This is a pity, for it is a fine achievement, although too dour a story to command affection in the media ...

Pious Girls and Swearing Fathers

Patricia Craig, 1 June 1989

English Children and their Magazines 1751-1945 
by Kirsten Drotner.
Yale, 272 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 300 04010 5
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Frank Richards: The Chap behind the Chums 
by Mary Cadogan.
Viking, 258 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 670 81946 8
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A History of Children’s Book Illustration 
by Joyce Irene Whalley and Tessa Rose Chester.
Murray/Victoria and Albert Museum, 268 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 7195 4584 6
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Manchester Polytechnic Library of Children’s Books 1840-1939: ‘From Morality to Adventure’ 
by W.H. Shercliff.
Bracken Books/Studio Editions, 203 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 901276 18 9
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Children’s Modern First Editions: Their Value to Collectors 
by Joseph Connolly.
Macdonald, 336 pp., £17.95, October 1988, 0 356 15741 5
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... there was no holding children’s books or their illustrators: Cruikshank, Tenniel, Doyle, Arthur Hughes and many others all contribute greatly to the decorativeness of Victorian England, as it’s preserved for later generations. Technical advances soon acted as a spur to artists and publishers alike. Edmund Evans, after about 1870, perfected the technique ...

Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels, 31 October 2002

Fingersmith 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... a sov in the gutter. ‘Bet it’s snide,’ she shouts at their backs as they saunter off to Kate Hamilton’s place. The girls amble on to the Arches – where, at last, they spy a four-square rig reeling out of a bar: kerchief, diamond stud and all. ‘Shop!’ whispers Caroline, ‘our first customer.’ Not as easy as it looks, I discover; even ...

Backlash Blues

John Lahr, 16 June 2016

What Happened, Miss Simone? A Biography 
by Alan Light.
Canongate, 309 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78211 871 8
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... Simone’s sister Dorothy said. ‘Her fingers were protected.’ When her mother, Mary Kate, drew the talent of her daughter to the attention of Katherine Miller, a white woman for whom she cleaned house, Simone found her first patron. Miller paid for the piano lessons which the Waymon family couldn’t afford and steered the child at the age of ...

What does a snake know, or intend?

David Thomson: Where Joan Didion was from, 18 March 2004

Where I Was From 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 240 pp., £14.99, March 2004, 0 00 717886 7
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... the essays that constitute Slouching towards Bethlehem (1968) – pieces on the idea of Howard Hughes, the long title piece on the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, a ‘love song’ to John Wayne that is less ironic than many readers wanted to think it in 1965, a dismantling of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara ...

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