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Christopher Prendergast: Sarah Palin’s Favourite Frenchman

2 December 2010
... was close to invisible (there is a curious reference to the – unspecified – merits of reading him in one of Flaubert’s letters to George Sand but this was in 1871, at the height of Flaubert’s hysteria over the Paris Commune). The resurrection of Bastiat has been almost entirely an American affair, long pre-dating his appropriation by the Tea ...
25 February 1993
Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... Ronnie Kray, performance artist and comedian of terror, was beginning to lose his audience. Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read’s weasels were infecting the landscape with rumours: all the creeping, ugly dream-things the Twins had always vigorously suppressed were daring to emerge by daylight. The aura of magical protection ...

Reconstruction

Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides

6 October 2011
The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... Eggers – have come to believe that too much was lost – in moral and emotional engagement, in readership – when realism was thrown over. As Franzen wrote in the New Yorker, ‘in college, I’d admired Derrida and the Marxist and feminist critics, people whose job was to find fault with modern Systems.’ But ‘I didn’t particularly like the writers ...
7 November 1985
... in 1961. A few months before I presented my cheque for 50 pounds to my bank, the first volume of Leonard Woolf’s autobiography, Sowing, was published. It covered his own origins and early years, as well as the origins of the Bloomsbury Group in Cambridge and among that famously secret society known as the Apostles. The fifth and last volume of this ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland

21 April 1988
Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... the fiction of Stephen King and duly showed as evidence appropriately stuffy essay assignments and reading lists. What with the wholesale decanonisation currently taking place in the United States, King might well find himself on the Stanford Humanities core-curriculum. Nevertheless, for all his zest in being his successful self, one guesses that he feels ...
7 December 1989
Silent Partner 
by Jonathan Kellerman.
Macdonald, 506 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 356 17598 7
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‘Murder will out’: The Detective in Fiction 
by T.J. Binyon.
Oxford, 166 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780192192233
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Devices and Desires 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 408 pp., £11.99, October 1989, 0 571 14178 1
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Killshot 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 287 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 670 82258 2
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Trust 
by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 213 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 233 98513 1
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Polar Star 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins Harvill, 373 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 00 271269 5
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... as detective stories he may mean, but wouldn’t that be pretty much tautological? Certainly readers of George V. Higgins and Elmore Leonard would be surprised by the claim as it stands. Binyon also accepts without questioning the distinction between detective fiction and thrillers, or what he sometimes calls adventure ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine

15 July 1982
Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... of the 19th, were equally unsuccessful in their Utopian endeavours, for reasons well summarised by Leonard Elmhirst, founder of Dartington Hall School: ‘they disregarded sound economics, they followed some ethical or theoretical principle too rigorously, or they attempted to isolate themselves too completely from the social and economic world around ...

Under the Sphinx

Alasdair Gray

11 March 1993
Places of the Mind: The Life and Work of James Thomson (‘B.V.’) 
by Tom Leonard.
Cape, 407 pp., £25, February 1993, 9780224031189
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... of James Thomson’s life and work since Henry Salt’s in 1889. Thomson’s poem The City of Dreadful Night is known by name to many but has seldom been reprinted or discussed. Histories of literature say more about an earlier James Thomson (1700-48) who wrote The Seasons and ‘Rule Britannia’ and got into Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, though Johnson ...

Doctors’ Orders

Ruth Bernard Yeazell

18 February 1982
‘All that summer she was mad’: Virginia Woolf and Her Doctors 
by Stephen Trombley.
Junction, 338 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 9780862450397
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... to him from behind the trees in Regent’s Park – and prefers death to doctors. Hearing the dreaded Dr Holmes about to burst into the room, Septimus flings himself ‘vigorously, violently’ out of the window, to be fatally impaled on the railings below. ‘It was a subject that I have kept cooling in my mind until I felt I could touch it without ...
10 May 1990
The Innocent 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 231 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 224 02783 2
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... plot turns to nightmare, driven by forces that no one will name. The corpse, for instance, already a practical problem in material reality, takes up its residence in the mind; the monster doubles in size; the aggrieved woman becomes the shrieking harpy, ascends from melodrama into myth – the woman needed appeasing, but the harpy has to be ...

Don’t tell nobody

Michael Wood: Cuba

3 September 1998
Cuba Libre 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 352 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 670 87988 6
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Havana Dreams 
by Wendy Gimbel.
Knopf, 234 pp., $24, June 1998, 0 679 43053 9
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... the timing of the tempest, she can always be helped out. One theory, quietly articulated in Elmore Leonard’s new thriller, is that the North Americans blew up the Maine themselves in order to start the war. Somewhere behind this notion lies the legendary cable Hearst is supposed to have sent to reporter Richard Harding Davis and cartoonist Frederic ...

Smashing the Teapots

Jacqueline Rose

23 January 1997
Virginia Woolf 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 722 pp., £20, September 1996, 0 7011 6507 3
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... One of the strangest things Virginia Woolf ever did was to travel with Leonard to Germany for part of their annual holiday in April 1935. The vigour of German anti-semitism was by this point clear and Hitler’s power and at least some of his worst intentions towards Britain were recorded by Woolf in her diaries (‘There is some reason I suppose to expect that Oxford Street will be flooded with poison gas one of these days ...

I’m hip. I live in New York

Theo Tait: Leonard Michaels

3 March 2016
Sylvia 
by Leonard Michaels.
Daunt Books, 131 pp., £9.99, June 2015, 978 1 907970 55 9
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... to Italo Calvino, is ‘a book that has never finished saying what it has to say’. I have read Sylvia by Leonard Michaels four or five times and I still don’t feel that I’ve got to the bottom of it. First published in 1992, it is a novel disguised as a memoir, or a memoir disguised as a novel, based on the ...
20 November 1980
The Sickle Side of the Moon: The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Vol. V, 1932-1935 
edited by Nigel Nicolson.
Hogarth, 476 pp., £12.50, September 1979, 0 7012 0469 9
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Leave the Letters till we’re dead: The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Vol. VI, 1936-41 
edited by Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautman.
Hogarth, 556 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 7012 0470 2
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The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. III: 1925-1930 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell.
Hogarth, 384 pp., £10.50, March 1980, 0 7012 0466 4
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Virginia Woolf 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Routledge, 270 pp., £7.95, September 1979, 0 7100 0189 4
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Virginia Woolf’s Major Novels: The Fables of Anon 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 252 pp., £11, April 1980, 0 300 02402 9
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... Having read some of Henry Brewster’s letters to Ethel Smyth, Virginia Woolf wrote to Ethel that she found them ‘very witty, easy, well written, full of sparks and faces and shrewdness’, though she admitted that she got ‘a little tired of the lunches and dinners and Pasolinis and Contessa this and that’. Most important, however, the letters lacked intimacy ...

The Real Johnny Hall

Penelope Fitzgerald

3 October 1985
Our Three Selves: A Life of Radclyffe Hall 
by Michael Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £13.95, June 1985, 0 241 11539 6
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... When The Well of Loneliness came out in July 1928 the reviewers were not astonished. Both Leonard Woolf and L.P. Hartley thought the book sincere, but overemphatic. The Times Literary Supplement also called it sincere, and Vera Brittain said it was ‘admirably restrained’. It sold quite well, going into a second impression, and Radclyffe Hall, with her lover Una Troubridge, thought of taking a cottage in Rye ...

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