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Jeremy Thorpe: A Secret Life 
by Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater and David May.
Fontana, 371 pp., £1.50
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... In one sense, as the advertising claims, this is ‘the only book to tell the full story of the Jeremy Thorpe affair’, for there is no other book that tells that story. Written by three journalists from the Sunday Times, it presents the existing state of knowledge, but tidied up and reduced to order, and with some ‘investigative’ embellishments probably added ...

Plot 6, Row C, Grave 15

Malcolm Gaskill: Death of an Airman, 8 November 2018

... looks charming and faintly dangerous. ‘The RFC attracted the adventurous spirits,’ wrote Cecil Lewis, whose Sagittarius Rising (1936) is the classic Flying Corps memoir, ‘the devil-may-care young bloods of England, the fast livers, the furious drivers.’ Airmen needed a low heart rate, had to be able to hold their breath for 45 seconds and to stabilise ...

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell, 4 June 1981

The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... When housekeeping was still difficult after the second war we used to lunch quite often at the Chester Arms, which stood nearly opposite where we lived in Regent’s Park. The pub was run by a delightful family, a handsome widow and her two pretty daughters. We once took an American to luncheon there. Could he have been an American officer? I can’t remember ...

World Policeman

Colin Legum, 20 November 1986

With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua 
by Christopher Dickey.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1986, 9780571146048
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Jonas Savimbi: A Key to Africa 
by Fred Bridgland.
Mainstream, 513 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 906391 99 7
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... in Angola.’ Such statements go beyond the ordinary bravado of a Rambo. They reflect what Tony Lewis of the New York Times has described as ‘the new globalism’, the ‘most important conceptual movement in American foreign policy in years’. Lewis defines this concept, deriving from ‘the ideological right’, as ...

Members Only

R.B. Dobson, 24 February 1994

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1386-1421 
edited by J.S. Roskell, Linda Clark and Carole Rawcliffe.
Alan Sutton, 3500 pp., £275, February 1993, 9780862999438
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... When Sir Lewis Namier was lying on his death-bed, he is said to have looked up radiantly at his wife and declared: ‘What a pity! Yesterday was the first time I saw in my mind’s eye the Survey of Parliament as a whole.’ A pity indeed, for the insight allegedly offered to Namier on the point of death has never quite been afforded to any of his disciples and successors ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John Hartley Williams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee; shorter-term residents included Louis MacNeice, Auden’s lover Chester Kallman and Salvador Dali. The poem consists of a monologue by each of these. Like ‘Immram’ and ‘The more a man has the more a man wants’, ‘7, Middagh Street’ is a beguiling mixture of the serious and the silly. Muldoon skittishly connects the ...

Worse than Pagans

Tom Shippey: The Church v. the Fairies, 1 December 2016

Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church 
by Richard Firth Green.
Pennsylvania, 285 pp., £36, August 2016, 978 0 8122 4843 2
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... come they are almost immortal?’, or to use Martianus Capella’s term, borrowed by C.S. Lewis, longaevi. Perhaps they weren’t human after all. Once again there was a hardline view: they were spirits, and since they weren’t angels they must be devils, which meant that those who believed in elf queens dancing in green meadows – in the words of a ...

Dirty Jokes

Julian Symons, 13 September 1990

Brief Lives 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 217 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 224 02747 6
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by Philip Roth.
Cape, 208 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 224 03000 0
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by Seth Morgan.
Chatto, 390 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 7011 3664 2
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... Conrad. It is a commonplace that Brookner writes better about women than about men, as the unhappy Lewis Percy testified. The men in Brief Lives are important but they are kept in their right place, which for Brookner is the background, and as background figures they are perfectly convincing. Owen is beautiful, eager to escape from his over-loving ...


Benjamin Markovits: What It Takes to Win at Sport, 7 November 2013

... best book I know on the relationship between sporting culture and success is Moneyball, Michael Lewis’s account of the 2002 Oakland A’s baseball team.† The argument is compellingly simple: sports teams are run like gentlemen’s clubs rather than businesses, and clubs don’t base their business decisions on facts but on codes and intuitions. A ...

Wait a second what’s that?

August Kleinzahler: Elvis’s Discoverer, 8 February 2018

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll 
by Peter Guralnick.
Weidenfeld, 784 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 297 60949 0
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... if “Rocket 88” (on which it was clearly based) did not already exist’. A year or so later, Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin’ Wolf, turned up at the studio. Burnett, originally from Tupelo, like Elvis, performed on an early Saturday morning radio show in West Memphis that advertised farm implements and dry goods. An announcer at the station ...

The South

Colm Tóibín, 4 August 1994

One Art: The Selected Letters of Elizabeth Bishop 
Chatto, 668 pp., £25, April 1994, 0 7011 6195 7Show More
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... with Ivar Ivask.’) In 1973 she wrote to James Merrill: ‘I could weep myself to think of Mr [Chester] Kallman’s weeping over “The Moose”.’ There is no explanation as to how she learned that Kallman had wept over her poem, which is about seeing a moose during a bus journey. The first reference to ‘The Moose’ occurs in a letter to Marianne ...
... reign, Henry Audley appears as a follower first of the earls of Ulster and then of the earls of Chester, and finally of the King. He was a royalist captain I215-16 and rewarded by John with lands. Under Henry III he continued to prosper and became a baron. His son James (c.1220-77) was a royalist too in the Barons’ Wars and became Justiciar of Ireland in ...


Paul Keegan: David Jones removes himself, 7 November 2019

David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet 
by Thomas Dilworth.
Vintage, 448 pp., £14.99, January 2019, 978 0 7847 0800 2
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Epoch and Artist Selected Writings 
by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood.
Faber, 320 pp., £18.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33950 1
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‘The Dying Gaul’ and Other Writings 
by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood.
Faber, 240 pp., £17.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33953 2
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Dai Greatcoat A Self-Portrait of David Jones in His Letters 
edited by René Hague.
Faber, 280 pp., £17.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33952 5
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... Cockney songs, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ‘bits of Welsh stuff … Norse sagas … and Lewis Carroll and Lear and God!’ And Eliot. He listened closely to the allusive mimicry of The Waste Land before setting out to do the war in different voices. It seems clear that he also absorbed the ensemble scoring of Sweeney Agonistes – its velocity and ...

Auden Askew

Barbara Everett, 19 November 1981

W.H. Auden: A Biography 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 495 pp., £12.50, June 1981, 0 04 928044 9
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Early Auden 
by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 407 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 11193 9
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... doctrinal teaching concerned the untrustworthiness of such poetic usages. Auden himself, a great Lewis Carroll fan, would possibly have said that Mendelson gets away with it by paying the images extra; and the prose does have at moments a slightly expensive quality.Carpenter tends to run into the opposite problem: not so much of overvaluing symbols as of ...

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