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Ronald Blythe

24 January 1980
A Writer’s Britain: Landscape in Literature 
by Margaret Drabble.
Thames and Hudson, 133 pp., £10.50, October 1980, 0 500 01219 9
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... When MargaretDrabble says that, like Trollope, ‘Henry James admires the inimitable, unpurchasable gleam of time’, and describes his Poynton as ‘a Mentmore in miniature’, or when she writes of ‘the allegorical ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode

6 June 1985
The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... The Oxford Companion to – or Bumper Book of – English Literature was first published in 1932 and updated in three subsequent editions and many reprints. It has now been extensively re-edited by MargaretDrabble, aided by an impressive list of experts. The original editor, Sir Paul Harvey, explained that his intention was to be useful to ordinary everyday readers. He offered the dates and brief ...

Dark Spaces

Dinah Birch

28 September 1989
People of the Black Mountains: The Beginning 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 361 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 7011 2845 3
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The Politics of Modernism 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 208 pp., £24, August 1989, 0 86091 241 8
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A Natural Curiosity 
by Margaret Drabble.
Viking, 309 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 670 82837 8
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... give no sense of otherness, no sense of the unpredictable or foreign. Why should that matter? Williams might have argued that our hunger for the strange is based on nothing more than curiosity. MargaretDrabble, taking this distracting appetite as the central theme of her confident and marvellously accomplished new novel, gives full weight to the price we pay for our attempts to satisfy curiosity ...

Gaiety

Frank Kermode

8 June 1995
Angus Wilson 
by Margaret Drabble.
Secker, 714 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 436 20038 4
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... Its interest in the present context is that it is the sort of thing somebody might say in an Angus Wilson story, but it is also the sort of thing that he himself would in principle have deplored. As MargaretDrabble emphasises, he disliked that anti-American reflex, attributing it (perhaps too simply) to simple envy. He loved the USA, where he had dozens of friends, whom he treated, so far as one can ...

Speaking for England

Patrick Parrinder

21 May 1987
The Radiant Way 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 396 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 297 79095 1
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Change 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 224 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 9780413576408
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Moon Tiger 
by Penelope Lively.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 233 98107 1
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The Maid of Buttermere 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 415 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 340 40173 7
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Stray 
by A.N. Wilson.
Walker, 175 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 7445 0801 0
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... people managed to complain fairly forcefully about somebody: only a few were stunned into honourable silence. That was The Ice Age (1977), but there are very similar passages in The Radiant Way. MargaretDrabble’s later novels are settled, capacious, Condition-of-England chronicles, prolonged ruminations on the way we live now. Echoes of the classic novelists are much in evidence. There is an ...
21 May 1981
Jane Austen’s ‘Sir Charles Grandison’ 
edited by Brian Southam.
Oxford, 150 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 19 812637 9
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... any other literary discovery, short of a new play by Shakespeare, that one can imagine.’ Brian Southam begins his Introduction to ‘Grandison’ by quoting the apparently prophetic observation of MargaretDrabble in 1974. Ever since she said it, there has been a run of near misses or all-buts, beginning with Another Lady’s completion of Jane Austen’s fragment ‘Sanditon’, and continuing with ...
18 September 1980
... Texan would have said if he had known that valuable tax-dollars had been expended to bring me to New Mexico, too, along with a group of other British writers – Stephen Spender, Richard Hoggart, MargaretDrabble, Al Alvarez – and various Beat American poets and novelists (California vintage ’57), and academics from different universities, to consider such issues as ‘D. H. Lawrence and his ...

Madly Excited

John Bayley

1 June 1989
The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. I: 1904-1939 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 783 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 224 02654 2
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... to discredit by exaggeration. Ever since Jane Eyre, the female best-seller has usually been honest enough to be Little Me. There is, nonetheless, a remarkable similarity in technique between, say, MargaretDrabble and Graham Greene. Both create an entirely coherent romance world, powered by variations on self-satisfaction, in Greene’s case masquerading as self-disgust. In both cases this is highly ...

Drabble’s Progress

John Sutherland

5 December 1991
The Gates of Ivory 
by Margaret Drabble.
Viking, 464 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 670 84270 2
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Happily Ever After 
by Jenny Diski.
Hamish Hamilton, 245 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13169 3
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Of Love and Asthma 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 321 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 0 434 47993 4
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... Some readers do not much like MargaretDrabble’s later novels because they are so different from her earlier successes. She may have lost one public and not as yet entirely won over another. Her novel writing career began brilliantly and ...

Diary

A.J. Ayer: More of A.J. Ayer’s Life

22 December 1983
... Gully, and her husband Peter Foges who is the BBC’s representative in New York. Nicholas came with me and we spent a very pleasant day at Bard. My fellow honorands included the novelist MargaretDrabble, the exceptionally learned ancient historian, Professor Momigliano, who had been a colleague of mine for many years at University College, London, and Professor Kolakowski whom I first met at a ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin

5 September 1996
Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... name. ACOG imagineering culminated in the procession that traditionally opens the Games. The parade paused only at the three sacred sites that anchor Atlanta’s claim to world fame – the homes of Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King Jr and Coca-Cola. Seen through Rutheiser’s ironic, cold eye these nodes mark the fault lines of a disintegrative urban history. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind ...

Faulting the Lemon

James Wood: Iris Murdoch

1 January 1998
Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 546 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7011 6629 0
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... got closest in Late Call). A.S. Byatt has written well about her desire to write what she calls ‘self-conscious realism’; but her realism is seldom deep enough to warrant its self-consciousness. MargaretDrabble appears to want to combine Dickens and Woolf, to combine caricature and experimental forms, but can create neither vivid caricatures nor daring experiments. Martin Amis seems to want to ...

Stuck in Chicago

Linda Colley

12 November 1987
Women 
by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 1165 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 7043 2625 6
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... useful to examine the nature of female creativity. Why are we so good at writing novels, but so much less adept at poetry? Why some uses of words rather than others? What is the point in interviewing MargaretDrabble, Victoria Glendinning and Marina Warner, but failing to discuss such matters? Yet for all the evident faults and the egregious condescension of this book, it does almost despite itself have ...

Mini-Whoppers

Patrick Parrinder

7 July 1988
Forty Stories 
by Donald Barthelme.
Secker, 256 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 436 03424 7
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Tiny Lies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 224 02560 0
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Ellen Foster 
by Kaye Gibbons.
Cape, 146 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 224 02529 5
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After the War 
by Frederick Raphael.
Collins, 528 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 00 223352 5
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... with a new, Southern twist. There is nothing small-scale in the conception of Frederic Raphael’s After the War: at more than five hundred pages it aspires to the status of a grand social saga à la MargaretDrabble or C.P. Snow. Michael Jordan, sensitive and Jewish, has his first introduction to English mores at a boarding-school evacuated to the coast of North Devon. After the war he grows up to become ...

Ruling Imbecilities

Andrew Roberts

7 November 1991
The Enemy’s Country: Words, Contexture and Other Circumstances of Language 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 153 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 19 811216 5
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... matters? In a single footnote to the first essay, Hill does make his attack on the ‘vast apparatus of Opinion’ more specific, criticising Malcolm Bradbury and Christopher Bigsby for presenting MargaretDrabble and John Le Carré as ‘most important writers’. He goes on to reproach the same critics for appealing to a ‘supposed consensus’ and for the use of the phrase ‘our time’, which ...

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