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The Phonemic Grail

A.C. Gimson, 17 April 1980

The Sound Shape of Language 
by Roman Jakobson and Linda Waugh.
Harvester, 308 pp., £13.50, September 1979, 0 85527 926 5
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... aphasia) and poetics, to mention but some of them. The present book, written in collaboration with Linda Waugh, sets out to assemble many of his more important theories as well as those of an astonishing number of his contemporaries. It is as if the authors wish to overwhelm the reader with the testimony and support of Jakobson’s fellow linguists: in a ...


Robert Fothergill: Among the Leavisites, 12 September 2019

... That was the required term. It had happened in late September on the floor of the living room of Linda’s cramped terraced house in Carshalton, with her mother asleep upstairs. On a trip to Switzerland I had bought her a very cheap blouse which I persuaded her to try on, thus inducing her to remove the one she was wearing. One thing led to another. I ...


John Bayley, 4 June 1987

The Faber Book of Diaries 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 498 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 0 571 13806 3
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... for his complete failure to be ‘a writer’. Young diarists usually show off. Evelyn Waugh records in 1956 that in the hope of understanding his son Auberon better ‘I read the diaries I kept at his age. I was appalled at the vulgarity and priggishness.’ The point, as Dorothy Wordsworth put it, is not ‘to quarrel with oneself’, however ...

Napoleon’s Near Miss

Linda Colley, 18 April 1985

Napoleon: The Myth of the Saviour 
by Jean Tulard, translated by Teresa Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 470 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 297 78439 0
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Alexis: Tsar of All the Russias 
by Philip Longworth.
Secker, 319 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 436 25688 6
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... is less perceptive and convincing than the one Felix Markham published back in 1963. Teresa Waugh’s translation is uneven but improves as it goes along; whoever was responsible for the final proof-reading should be sent back in time and made to march on Moscow. Philip Longworth’s elegant account of Alexis Romanov, Tsar of Russia from 1645 to ...

Love in the Ruins

Nicolas Tredell, 8 October 1992

Out of the Rain 
by Glyn Maxwell.
Bloodaxe, 112 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 1 85224 193 4
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Body Politic 
by Tony Flynn.
Bloodaxe, 60 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 129 2
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by Linda France.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 178 0
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Red-Haired Android 
by Jeremy Reed.
Grafton, 280 pp., £7.99, July 1992, 9780586091845
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by Peter Robinson, with an essay by Peter Swaab.
Robert Jones, 36 pp., £9.95, July 1992, 0 9514240 2 5
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... who call to mind, variously, yuppies and lager louts, Essex Men and the Bright Young Things of Waugh and Huxley and Eliot and Scott Fitzgerald. The narrator describes the night of the flood, his glimpse of the entrance to the ark – ‘a dry risen corridor of light’ – and his own strange survival, borne out of the rain by a unicorn into a cottage full ...

Our Fault

Frank Kermode, 11 October 1990

Our Age: Portrait of a Generation 
by Noël Annan.
Weidenfeld, 479 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 297 81129 0
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... Oxford set, the Children of the Sun, the Brideshead generation, especially Brian Howard and Evelyn Waugh, who is given special status as an important Deviant from Our Age; and also about Cambridge – about the Spies, of course, who escape being described as Deviant, but also about certain slightly less notorious gentlemen. There was, for instance, ‘the ...

Maigret’s Room

John Lanchester: The Home Life of Inspector Maigret, 4 June 2020

... more so than readers consciously notice. Christopher Sykes once asked his good friend Evelyn Waugh how it was that one of his earlier novels, apparently light and humorous, had an undertow of melancholy. Waugh said he had done it by keeping the weather in the book grey and rainy.) One of my favourites is My Friend ...

Stalin is a joker

Michael Hofmann: Milan Kundera, 2 July 2015

The Festival of Insignificance 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 115 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 571 31646 5
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... Younger readers​ – how I’ve dreamed of beginning a review with those snitty Amis/Waugh-type words – will need reminding that in the 1970s and 1980s there was no getting round the French-Bohemian (actually Moravian) novelist Milan Kundera, who was to those decades what Sebald and Knausgaard were to be for those following ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?, 28 November 2002

Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... friend. It’s 25 years since Tom Nairn first willed the ‘Break-Up of Britain’, and ten since Linda Colley influentially explained that Britons were the product of particular historical conditions – conditions which have now disappeared. We have had the woe-is-England vapourings of Simon Heffer and the rushed observations of Andrew Marr. An academic ...

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