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On and Off the Scene

Jessamy Harvey, 6 February 1997

Anti-Gay 
edited by Mark Simpson.
Cassell, 163 pp., £9.99, September 1996, 0 304 33144 9
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... why the media’s portrayal of a community split into gay and anti-gay supporters in the wake of Mark Simpson’s collection of essays is a joke. The media seem to need to believe that an entity called ‘the gay community’ actually exists. I am not so sure. I used to like thinking there was, before I had the nerve to come out. In those days I ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey, 4 March 2004

Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... of betrayal keeping constant guard over their earnestness. The author of Saint Morrissey, Mark Simpson, is an über-admirer in this style, and it follows, quite naturally, that he is also a writer with disciples of his own, having been described in reviews of his previous books as a ‘beauhunk’, ‘the gay antichrist’, and ‘the male gay ...

Join the club

Richard Hornsey: A new queer history of London, 7 September 2006

Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis 1918-57 
by Matt Houlbrook.
Chicago, 384 pp., £20.50, September 2005, 0 226 35460 1
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... a struggle over whose version of queerness goes. Reviewing Houlbrook’s book in the Independent, Mark Simpson wrote that ‘today’s out-and-proud gay world is a marginalised, airless, incestuous one compared to what went before in the “bad old days”’ before gay liberation. But such social critique often masks ressentiment. When Peter ...

Pal o’ Me Heart

David Halperin: Jamie O’Neill, 22 May 2003

At Swim, Two Boys 
by Jamie O'Neill.
Scribner, 572 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 7432 0714 9
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... themes. O’Neill’s novel deserves to be read alongside Hollinghurst, the films of Derek Jarman, Mark Merlis’s American Studies and An Arrow’s Flight, Robert Glück’s Margery Kempe, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and, above all, Neil Bartlett’s inexhaustible Who Was That Man? A Present for Mr Oscar Wilde as well as his more recent Mr Clive and Mr ...

Powerful Moments

David Craig, 26 October 1989

Touching the void 
by Joe Simpson.
Cape, 172 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 224 02545 7
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Climbers 
by M. John Harrison.
Gollancz, 221 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 9780575036321
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... heart of the experience and don’t resort unduly to its more freakish terrors? The wonder of Joe Simpson’s escape back into life is both that he survived near death on the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes and that he has the power of recall to do justice in vivid and original phrasing to an episode which will remain as a true myth of survival through ...

Glittering Fiend

Ian Hamilton: John Berryman, 9 December 1999

Berryman's Shakespeare 
edited by John Haffenden.
Farrar, Straus, 396 pp., $35, February 1999, 0 374 11205 3
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John Berryman’s Personal Library: A Catalogue 
by Richard Kelly.
Lang, 433 pp., £39, March 1999, 0 8204 3998 3
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... that he had intermittently toiled on since the Thirties – and this in spite of being told by Mark Van Doren, his one-time professor and lifelong mentor in these matters, that ‘you will never finish the Sh. book ... you have this illusion you are a scholar, but you know damn well that you are nothing of the sort.’ Forty years earlier, Van Doren had ...

National Institutions

Hans Keller, 15 October 1981

The Proms and Natural Justice: A Plan for Renewal 
by Robert Simpson.
Toccata Press, 66 pp., £1.95, July 1981, 0 907689 00 0
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The Proms and the Men Who Made Them 
by Barrie Hall.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £8.95, June 1981, 0 04 780024 0
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The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven 
by Antony Hopkins.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 435 81427 3
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... interweaves deep historical insights with a strong composer’s inevitable prejudices – Robert Simpson’s impersonal challenge is spotlessly objective, sternly factual and, at the same time, unashamedly ethical. His scrupulous analysis of the Proms’ past yields a practical proposal as well as what already seems to have proved an indisputable moral ...

Warm Drops in Baghdad

John Simpson, 22 November 1990

... dangerous. Hassan, our driver, turned up in a black suit with stripes like railway lines, to mark the end of summer. It clashed badly with his plastic sandals and his brown tie. I looked out of my hotel window and watched the rain with a certain frisson: I remembered being told by a leading Palestinian figure that Saddam Hussein had forecast that an ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians v. the press, 22 July 2004

... they like, if they say it in Parliament: during the Kosovo campaign, Tony Blair accused John Simpson of reporting for the BBC ‘under the instruction and guidance of Serbian authorities’. Had the prime minister ‘repeated that outside the privilege of the Commons,’ Simpson wrote in his autobiography, which Lloyd ...

The great times they could have had

Paul Foot, 15 September 1988

Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... the Order of the Crown of Italy, one of the highest decorations of the Mussolini regime. Ernest Simpson, the dull partner in a shipping firm whom Wallis married in 1928, had close business ties with Fascist Italy. But her feeling for Fascism cannot be attributed only to her men friends. On the contrary, the ‘new social order’ brayed around the ...

Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia, 25 September 2003

The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... was geared towards a pastoral economy, already ‘capitalised’, we might say. According to Mark McKenna, in Looking for Blackfella’s Point, ‘the Aborigines’ tracks laid the basis of the road networks, their campsites became homesteads and towns, their yam grounds became arable fields, and all their hunting grounds, so carefully tended by ...

Is It Glamorous?

David Simpson: Stefan Collini among the Intellectuals, 6 March 2008

Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 544 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 19 929105 5
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... not every intellectual has been comfortable when arguing against extreme positions, or when the mark of approval goes only to those with average views. Take the case of R.G. Collingwood, who had no radio or television career and did not write for the newspapers, who was an exceptional scholar and philosopher, but who never lived up to his own ...

Adele goes West

Mark Lambert, 17 September 1987

Anywhere but here 
by Mona Simpson.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7475 0017 7
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Herself in Love 
by Marianne Wiggins.
Collins, 184 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 00 223147 6
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Journey of the Wolf 
by Douglas Day.
Bodley Head, 235 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 370 31064 0
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Spanking the maid 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 102 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 434 14289 1
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A Night at the Movies, or, You must remember this 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 187 pp., £12.95, August 1987, 0 434 14390 1
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... Mona Simpson’s Anywhere but here might seem in one respect a common sort of first novel: it is a book about an intelligent child growing up with a troublesome parent. In fact, though, it is evident almost from the beginning that this is a book which does not aim merely to tell a personal story well. One senses the ambitiousness of this book, a wish to matter, to take an interesting part in the ongoing conversation of American Literature, and this is exhilarating ...

Floreat Brixton

Tam Dalyell, 5 December 1985

An Eton Schoolboy’s Album 
by Mark Dixon.
Debrett, 118 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 905649 78 8
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... Henry VI founded Eton, his “College Roiall of oure Lady Eton”, in the year 1440.’ So says Mark Dixon in An Eton Schoolboy’s Album. He may or may not have learned much history, but somewhere along the line Dixon, who left Eton in 1980, has learned how to write in an entertaining and elegant way. I find it difficult to judge the impression it ...

Touches of the Real

David Simpson: Stephen Greenblatt, 24 May 2001

Practising New Historicism 
by Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt.
Chicago, 249 pp., £17.50, June 2000, 0 226 27934 0
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... new historicism have been exceptionally unwilling to stand together for a team photograph – the mark of the movement is the disavowal of movements. These two authors opt for the lower case: not New Historicism, but new historicism. The house journal Representations, founded in 1983 and still going strong, included in its first issue no editorial statement ...

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