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Terry Eagleton: The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín

14 October 1999
The Blackwater Lightship 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 273 pp., £15, September 1999, 0 330 38985 8
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... just as well have been set in Boston or Bournemouth. In Ireland, however, it gains an additional resonance. Such suburban goings-on are not just suburban goings-on, as they might be in the fiction of MargaretDrabble or Penelope Lively. Instead, they raise questions of tradition and modernity, of pure-hearted rural Gaeldom v. decadent urban gayness, which touch the nerve of a nation increasingly divided ...

Tribal Lays

D.J. Enright

7 May 1981
The Hill Station 
by J.G. Farrell.
Weidenfeld, 238 pp., £6.50, April 1981, 0 297 77922 2
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... Spurling discusses Farrell’s relations with Stendhal, Thomas Mann, Richard Hughes and Malcolm Lowry, and, by reproducing Farrell’s notes, indicates the general course the story was to have taken. MargaretDrabble writes on the comic undercutting, at their most solemn moments, of Farrell’s characters and their world-views, adding, however, that he ‘combined a sense of the pointless absurdity of man ...


John Bayley: On V.S. Pritchett, the Man of Letters

30 January 1992
... not based solely on a changed view of language, but that a craving for those Victorian directions is still in the bones of the modern novel reader, and in novelists as different as Iris Murdoch and MargaretDrabble. Such readers and writers are in no sense Victorian throwbacks, yet they know in their bones that the true English novel is destined to a Victorian purpose and persona, in whatever modified ...


Terry Eagleton

28 April 1994
What a Carve Up! 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 512 pp., £15.50, April 1994, 0 670 85362 3
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...  to the spoof Gothic fiction of Winshaw Towers, with its cartoon-like turrets and corridors, its drunken butler and freight of family horrors. It is as though Mervyn Peake has intersected with MargaretDrabble, as an age of instantly consumable time is incongruously overlaid with a lineage of furtive doings in the shrubbery and insane aunts raving in solitary bedrooms. A carve-up of contemporary ...

Middle-Class Hair

Carolyn Steedman: A New World for Women

18 October 2017
... moire, novels. Like many of the old new universities, Warwick was revving up for its 50th-anniversary celebrations. The contribution of my former department to the general gaiety was to be a talk by MargaretDrabble, on the topic of young women at university in the 1960s and 1970s. I was dun gone, as we say in the trade, pensioned off, but reeled in for a last duty. ‘Or as warm-up woman,’ I said in ...
8 February 2007
... 6) It’s a panel on something improbable (Godard and Homer?) in a fluorescent salon of some city’s Palais des Congrès. After your overcrafted paper sinks to cool applause you watch the back of MargaretDrabble’s head let loose hooves and Styx and stories of supper to lope the room. Applause is warm. Q&A is daft. A Washington journalist asks and answers everything. Outside in the hall you ...
20 October 1983
Elizabeth R.: A Biography 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £10.95, September 1983, 0 297 78285 1
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by Robert Lacey.
Hutchinson/BBC, 249 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 09 154290 1
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The Cult of the Prince Consort 
by Elizabeth Darby and Nicola Smith.
Yale, 120 pp., £10, October 1983, 0 300 03015 0
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... on books for only a small part of their education. That the Queen ‘hardly reads at all’ except in the way of business or horse-racing should distress nobody. She has no need to be impressed by ‘MargaretDrabble and other highbrows’ at informal Buckingham Palace luncheons. The monarch’s business is with practice and not with theory. It is we who have to get our ideas straight. The notion of a ...


John Bayley

4 September 1986
An Academic Question 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 182 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41843 3
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A Misalliance 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 191 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 224 02403 5
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... like the Brookner heroine in Look at me, taking the same involuntary pleasure in the dreary little comedies of daily routine. Pym was a bit despondent about this. ‘It was supposed to be a sort of MargaretDrabble effort,’ she wrote to Philip Larkin, ‘but of course it hasn’t turned out like that at all.’ She tried to recast it in the third person, then abandoned both versions on completion and ...
9 June 1994
Addicted to Romance: The Life and Adventures of Elinor Glyn 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 306 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 233 98866 1
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Mother of Oscar: The Life of Jane Francesca Wilde 
by Joy Melville.
Murray, 308 pp., £19.99, June 1994, 0 7195 5102 1
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... shelf shows that Mrs Leavis, in Fiction and the Reading Public, deigns to mention Ouida, Marie Corelli and Ethel M. Dell, but not Glyn. Two thick Companions to Literature, one of them edited by MargaretDrabble, give her 13 lines between them. Chambers Biographical Dictionary snortingly dismisses the Glyn output as ‘nonsensical, high-falutin, faulty in construction and ungrammatical’, qualities ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland

17 July 1980
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... to liberate the writer from the tyranny of the single literary personality. A main question posed by pseudonymous fiction is ‘who really wrote it?’ The question which often seems to be posed by MargaretDrabble’s novels is ‘how much of this is either autobiographical or thinly veiled roman à clef?’ It is not just that her heroines keep rough pace with their author’s age and mode of life as ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell

2 December 2010
J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... being left alone to work‘. Yet most stayed on friendly terms with him even after the Bovril treatment, and the writers he respected or got on with were often women: Elizabeth Bowen, Olivia Manning, MargaretDrabble, Alison Lurie. The letters from Farrell’s years of post-Booker fame are an education in the glamour of English literary celebrity. ‘I don’t want to be interfering about your azalea ...
6 May 1982
The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... been the strong point of the sexes – an opinion it would be advisable to check by reference to the work of women imaginative writers.’ So into the witness-box come successively Edna O’Brien, MargaretDrabble, Penelope Mortimer, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch. In the case of three, perhaps four, of the witnesses nothing is said about how they give their evidence. In the two years that Rebecca West ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson

18 November 1982
Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... blood-lust of the popular press. Marghanita Laski lucidly concludes that ‘if no one would have acted collectively on our behalf, then I think it would have been better to let the Falklands go.’ MargaretDrabble angrily refuses the invitation to ‘congratulate ourselves on a principled stand that everyone knows we would not have dared to take on a more dangerous issue … we won, with more ...
23 July 1987
Dostoevsky. The Stir of Liberation: 1860-1865 
by Joseph Frank.
Robson, 395 pp., £17.95, April 1987, 0 86051 242 8
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Selected Letters of Dostoevsky 
edited by Joseph Frank and David Goldstein.
Rutgers, 543 pp., $29.95, May 1987, 0 8135 1185 2
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... truism whose irony lies too deep for tears, and which incidentally makes its own comment on that always earnestly unreal type of state-of-the-nation novel which has been current from George Eliot to MargaretDrabble. The most effective state-of-the-nation commentary in art seems to be indirect and spontaneous, born of some local controversy, like Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, or even War and Peace ...

From the Motorcoach

Stefan Collini: J.B. Priestley

19 November 2009
English Journey 
by J.B. Priestley.
Great Northern Books, 351 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 1 905080 47 2
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... original 1934 text’, as though tireless scholars had unearthed some bibliographical jewel. Apart from a number of prefatory pages by current admirers of Priestley such as Beryl Bainbridge and MargaretDrabble, the chief novelty of this edition is that it has been printed in large coffee-table format to accommodate the numerous photographs that have been interspersed through the text. The addition ...

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