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Michael Foot’s Fathers

D.A.N. Jones, 4 December 1980

My Life with Nye 
by Jennie Lee.
Cape, 277 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 224 01785 3
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Debts of Honour 
by Michael Foot.
Davis-Poynter, 240 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7067 6243 6
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... potentate, as an alternative father. It is a pretty theory. I remembered it when talking with Malcolm Muggeridge recently about Kim Philby. Muggeridge was asserting that Philby’s treason had no philosophical or rational basis, but was merely a response to an anti-Establishment father. When I mentioned Tangye Lean’s theory about the ‘psychological ...

Scots wha hae gone to England

Donald Davie, 9 July 1992

Devolving English Literature 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 320 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198112983
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Scottish Poetry 
edited by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 424 pp., £17.50, July 1992, 9780571154319
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... any Scots from the indictment (though – unkindest cut – he does exonerate one Welshman, David Jones). Worse still for Crawford, Kenner announces, ‘There’s no longer an English literature’: by which he means that, whereas ‘talent has not been lacking’ – on the contrary, ‘good poets are dispersed round the land’ and each has a personal ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... elicited from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales and Henry IV Part One, Keats’s Odes and Tom Jones, Emma and Tess. It is still happening, even after we have got historians to stop drilling them in the battles we won, and when geographers no longer offer them maps in which the Empire is coloured red. Penguin Books’ reissue of Boris Ford’s Pelican ...

Writing Absurdity

Adam Shatz: Chester Himes, 26 April 2018

Chester B. Himes: A Biography 
by Lawrence P. Jackson.
Norton, 606 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 393 06389 9
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... themselves aloof from those with darker skin. In his 1945 novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go, Bob Jones, a black ‘leaderman’ in an LA shipyard, is at a dinner party with a group of decorous middle-class blacks who ask his opinion on how to ‘integrate the people of this ghetto into the life of the community’. ‘Well, now,’ he replies, ‘I think we ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... since the lining is the only interesting part. St Aubyn’s chair of judges, a backbench MP called Malcolm Craig, shows no overlap with either Hermione Lee (2006) or Robert Macfarlane (2013). The Elysian judges for 2013 are Jo Cross, a columnist whose criterion for imaginative literature is its ‘relevance’; Penny Feathers, retired from the Foreign Office ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... attitudes and relationships in order to understand why they rejected Shakespeare, much as Janet Malcolm, in The Silent Woman (1994), turned the tables on biographers of Sylvia Plath by intruding on their domestic lives. According to Shapiro, mainstream Shakespeare scholars have collectively ignored the authorship controversy because it is their evil ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... but when he came home, it was to a 270-acre ranch, which Redding called ‘the Big O Ranch’, in Jones County, twenty miles outside Macon. Although he had bristled at anything ‘country’, the life of a country squire was the one that he’d settled on. In 1966, he began to cross over in earnest with white audiences. That spring, Redding played a series of ...

Gangs

D.A.N. Jones, 8 January 1987

The Old School: A Study 
by Simon Raven.
Hamish Hamilton, 139 pp., £12, September 1986, 0 241 11929 4
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The Best Years of their Lives: The National Service Experience 1945-63 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 7181 2459 6
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Murder without Conviction: Inside the World of the Krays 
by John Dickson.
Sidgwick, 164 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780283994074
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Inside ‘Private Eye’ 
by Peter McKay.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 947795 80 4
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Malice in Wonderland: Robert Maxwell v. ‘Private Eye’ 
by Robert Maxwell, John Jackson, Peter Donnelly and Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 191 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 356 14616 2
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... with the Mafia. The Krays were a craze of the Sixties, adulated in the American style, like Malcolm X or Al Capone, Huey Long or Joe Bananas. They were like rock stars, they were in with the press, said to be in with the law: even today, while they lie in jail, the Daily Telegraph prints interviews with them, as if they were as respectable as the Shah ...

Boss of the Plains

D.A.N. Jones, 19 May 1983

The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 284 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 503102 4
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... Any Briton who wishes to confuse the enemy will be quick to fan these suspicions: probably Malcolm Muggeridge is Graham Greene’s spymaster, now that Tom Driberg has gone, if he really has ... It is in this area of speculation that Fussell exposes himself as more of an infantryman than a scout, or a spy. He admires The Official Boy Scout Handbook for ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... the final picture in the book shows Anne-Marie Mallik stomping over the Dyce-like beach, between Malcolm Muggeridge and John Gielgud, reminding us that this charming film (positively dated 1966) might just possibly stand the Test of ...

Hypnotise Her

Thomas Jones: Axel Munthe’s exaggerations, 29 January 2009

Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele 
by Bengt Jangfeldt, translated by Harry Watson.
Tauris, 381 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 1 84511 720 7
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... in Italy with her parents; he was the family’s doctor in Rome. They had two children, Peter and Malcolm, and remained technically married until his death in 1949, though they spent very little time together and he saw almost nothing of his sons as they were growing up. ‘There seems to have been no question of passionate love on Axel’s part,’ Jangfeldt ...

Not Enough Delilahs

Andrew O’Hagan: Lillian Ross, 4 July 2019

Picture 
by Lillian Ross.
NYRB, 219 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... and making a face, she’d offer a defining word after each name:Gloria Steinem – phoneyJanet Malcolm – pretentiousRenata Adler – crackpotSusan Sontag – nobodyNora Ephron – liarOther hand:Kenneth Tynan – creepTruman Capote – leechGeorge Plimpton – slickTom Wolfe – talentlessPhilip Roth – jerkIt was a mercy she only had two hands. To be ...

Policing the Police

Fredrick Harris: The Black Panthers, 20 June 2013

Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party 
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin.
California, 539 pp., £24.95, January 2013, 978 0 520 27185 2
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... an extraordinary thing in itself. Like W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Charlotta Bass, Claudia Jones and William Patterson in the 1940s and 1950s, the Black Panther Party connected the oppression of black America to people of colour around the globe, linking the internal struggle against racism in the US to anti-imperial struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... stories. Fitzgerald later wrote a biography, The Knox Brothers, a title which she reminded Malcolm Muggeridge he had advised against on the grounds that ‘it would sound like a circus.’ It was her second book. The first, a life of Burne-Jones, appeared two years earlier, in 1975, when she was nearly 60. Until then ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie, 21 February 1985

Chivalry 
by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... and chroniclers. Huizinga’s views have been effectively challenged before now, most recently in Malcolm Vale’s fine study, Chivalry and War (1981). Dr Keen joins him in criticising Huizinga’s thesis, and in recognising his stature. The fabulous world of Medieval romances might seem to back Huizinga’s charges of unreality, and Keen is aware of ...

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