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Angels and Dirt

Robert Dingley

20 November 1980
Stanley Spencer RA 
by Richard Carline, Andrew Causey and Keith Bell.
Royal Academy/Weidenfeld, 239 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 297 77831 5
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... his paintings Constitute an irresistible temptation to the art historian, and Andrew Causey and Keith Bell, in the opulent and informative catalogue that accompanies the current exhibition at Burlington House, set to with a vengeance, turning up a dazzling hoard of plunder from sources as diverse as Giotto and Gainsborough. They perform their necessary ...

On Wall Street

Keith Gessen

20 October 2011
... for some other, larger race, still captures what it feels like, especially after the closing bell on the Stock Exchange has pushed the workers out of their offices and onto the train to New Jersey. There’s never been much occasion to visit here; nothing happens here; but now there is. The day before yesterday, the day of the big march from Foley ...
21 January 1982
... some political and historical masonry. Ideally, perhaps, this could best have been achieved by a bell, book and candle condemnation of the Heath Government alone. The snag was that some of the leading monetarists had served without demur in that government. The trail of heresy had, therefore, to be extended back to the 13 Conservative years of 1951 to ...
12 July 1990
A Life with Food 
by Peter Langan and Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 128 pp., £16.99, May 1990, 9780747502203
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... Hamilton which is a Bacon copy. In other respects Sewell’s account is remarkably fair, and, like Keith Vaughan’s journal, painfully honest, and endearingly so, about his own highs and lows with Peter. The hero of course is best expressed in his own words. Once the Brasserie was established, Peter conceived the idea of opening in Los Angeles. What convinced ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are

5 July 2007
... and caravan site on Canvey Island from his book Sea Walls, and one of a scrap of fatty meat from Keith Arnatt’s Pictures from a Rubbish Tip. The get-it-all-in banality of crime-scene photographs is another way of killing art-historical echoes (Nigel Shafran’s charity-shop interior does that), as is the paparazzi in-your-face flash snapshooting used by ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... shed a little of its ambiguous glamour over him, and at the same time he became a friend of Julian Bell, who invited him to Charleston. In 1931 the Woolfs, who had printed his first tentative book of poems, took him on as a dogsbody and part-time commercial traveller at the Hogarth Press. They had already run through two assistants, but, all the same, Wright ...
15 December 2011
... local nostalgia is not any university or establishment of learning, public or private, but the old Bell Laboratories, fondly remembered as a place where people pursued research for its own sake, with only a secondary thought of profit for the company. I have never entirely believed that these laboratories were this legendary place, but I’m not sure my wary ...

Keep talking

Julian Loose

26 March 1992
Vox 
by Nicholson Baker.
Granta, 172 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 14 014232 0
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... network and ‘reach out and touch someone’ in ways entirely unforeseen by Alexander Graham Bell. Speculating about the impact of such artificial erotic experience, Rheingold turned to an already up and-running technology – to ‘telephone sex’, the adult party lines where you pay to make conversation with a member of the preferred gender. While the ...
5 December 1991
Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... Heath years were a disaster. This is what first bound together Ranelagh’s galère, ranging from Keith Joseph to Alan Walters, from Alfred Sherman to Denis Thatcher: the Institute of Economic Affairs competing the while with Enoch Powell for the role of the enduring spiritual godfather whose time had come. Ranelagh’s book is badly organised. Having begun ...
2 February 1984
The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... of ‘nonfictional works on contemporary life’; the ‘Beat movement’ as ‘a bohemian rebellion against established society which came to prominence about 1956’; David Ignatow’s poetic idiom as ‘Brooklynese speech’. But at least it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is – a ‘companion’, not a history. I wish I could say the same for ...

Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones

20 October 1983
The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... husband’s jolly friend, Gowing, a touch too bibulous: to express her point of view, Jensen has embellished Weedon Grossmith’s drawings with black railway smoke and a suggestion of alcoholic fumes. He is supporting Waterhouse’s suggestion that sensible Carrie’s diary is ever so slightly mad. Perhaps all diarists expose a sort of madness in ...

At The Thirteenth Hour

William Wootten: David Jones

25 September 2003
Wedding Poems 
by David Jones, edited by Thomas Dilworth.
Enitharmon, 88 pp., £12, April 2002, 1 900564 87 4
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David Jones: Writer and Artist 
by Keith Alldritt.
Constable, 208 pp., £18.99, April 2003, 1 84119 379 8
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... Other admirers may be less minded to seek out the good points in this outpouring of dictator-love. Keith Alldritt’s biography, David Jones: Writer and Artist, makes up for its lack of new material by being a judicious assessment of Jones’s life and reputation. Though he does not mention the Wedding Poems, Alldritt notes how in ‘The Old Quarry’, a ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009

7 January 2010
... it easier to believe if the reporter had been from the Yorkshire Evening Post – the newspaper Keith Waterhouse first worked on as a reporter. So while Red Riding seems like gritty realism it is in this respect quite romantic, as romantic and fanciful as the stories told at the other end of the social and geographical scale in Midsomer Murders. In Midsomer ...
18 November 2010
Madame Bovary: Provincial Ways 
by Gustave Flaubert and Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 342 pp., £20, November 2010, 978 1 84614 104 1
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... and though Steegmuller did write some fiction – including mysteries under the name of David Keith – it’s a fair bet that Davis is the best fiction writer ever to translate the novel. Which suggests a further question to the opening list: would you rather have your great novel translated by a good writer or a less good one? This is not as idle a ...

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