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William Wootten: Alun Lewis and ‘Frieda’, 5 July 2007

A Cypress Walk: Letters to ‘Frieda’ 
by Alun Lewis.
Enitharmon, 224 pp., £20, October 2006, 1 904634 30 3
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... put his arms around Freda. ‘“I’m glad,” he said.’ One afternoon, Lewis read Aykroyd Arthur Koestler’s article on Richard Hillary, the fighter pilot and author of The Last Enemy. On 25 May Lewis had written to Gweno: ‘What twaddle of Koestler’s about him being wilfully led to a fascinating death!’ Now his voice cracked as he came to a ...

Such a Husband

John Bayley, 4 September 1997

Selected Letters of George Meredith 
edited by Mohammad Shaheen.
Macmillan, 312 pp., £47.50, April 1997, 0 333 56349 2
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... his own or those of others. His personality, like that of his creations, is of a gaseous nature. Max Beerbohm once wrote a memorable little sketch of a visit to the Sage of Box Hill, and of hearing Meredith’s voice addressing the air as he approached, and recommencing the conversation as he walked away. In mid-century Meredith dazzled his friends and ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 April 1984

Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape 1849-1928 
by Ann Thwaite.
Secker, 567 pp., £15, April 1984, 0 436 52146 6
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... marring the solemnity of the occasion by irresistibly suggesting a group of caricatures by Max Beerbohm. Shortly after this Gosse hurries off to Paris on a visit to André Gide, whose work he had been the first to commend to English readers. In May he undergoes a minor and a major operation in rapid succession, in the interval making arrangements about ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer, 2 December 1982

Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... as one of the most distinguished and ambitious products of this upsurge. Colin Wilson and Arthur Koestler should look to their laurels. At the Florence conference contributors showed how the Renaissance revival could be seen as a ‘discovery’ of active popular culture by the ruling class – and also as a manipulation of that culture for direct ...


Peter Campbell, 5 December 1985

... life. Others would be too good-mannered to notice things which embarrass Adrian. In the world of Arthur Ransome’s children parents hardly figure as characters. Their role is to establish the absolute security outside the plot which can make the adventures within it seem both realistic and safe. No possible turn of a Ransome story would allow ...

Don’t Ask Henry

Alan Hollinghurst: Sissiness, 9 October 2008

by Howard Sturgis.
NYRB, 345 pp., £8.99, May 2008, 978 1 59017 266 7
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... the heir to a marquisate who wishes repeatedly that his brainless and hearty younger brother, Arthur, could inherit instead. ‘Sainty’ Belchamber has no taste for games, girls or money; in his new introduction to the novel, Edmund White calls him a ‘sissy’, which is about right, though, oddly, Cissy is the name of the pitiless young woman Sainty is ...

The Same Old Solotaire

Peter Wollen, 4 July 1996

‘Salome’ and ‘Under the Hill’ 
by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.
Creation, 123 pp., £7.95, April 1996, 1 871592 12 7
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Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque 
by Chris Snodgrass.
Oxford, 338 pp., £35, August 1995, 0 19 509062 4
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... went with it. Yeats first met Beardsley at the launch party for the Savoy, the magazine founded by Arthur Symons and Beardsley after Beardsley had been fired as art editor of the Yellow Book following Wilde’s arrest. It was a brave and defiant attempt to continue the movement, but the journal was suspect from the start – the Savoy, after all, was the hotel ...
... this.’ When he got the job of literary editor he gave himself the task of reading an essay by Max Beerbohm before breakfast every day. AH: But you were still writing for the TLS all this time? FW: Yes, though I stopped with a thud when Alan Pryce-Jones left and Arthur Crook came. I think I was too associated in his mind ...

Going on the air

Philip French, 2 May 1985

Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... gaol has ever boasted to visitors that his notorious dungeons were chosen as the setting for Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. But for over thirty years successive generations of BBC producers escorting guests through the labyrinthine corridors of Broadcasting House past doors bearing inscrutably coded designations have cheerfully informed them that ...

Educating Georgie

E.S. Turner, 6 December 1984

Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 462 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 340 24465 8
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... else is known against this great under-achiever? Anne Edwards tells us that he was a crony of Lord Arthur Somerset, who was allowed to flee the country after being involved in a male brothel scandal, and a close friend of his Cambridge tutor, James Kenneth Stephen, a cousin of Virginia Woolf, who fasted to death in an asylum after Eddy died. Is that all the ...

Two Sharp Teeth

Philip Ball: Dracula Studies, 25 October 2018

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ 
by David J. Skal.
Norton, 672 pp., £15.99, October 2017, 978 1 63149 386 7
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The Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ 
edited by Roger Luckhurst.
Cambridge, 219 pp., £17.99, November 2017, 978 1 316 60708 4
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The Vampire: A New History 
by Nick Groom.
Yale, 287 pp., £16.99, October 2018, 978 0 300 23223 3
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... for Lucy’s spurnings. ‘The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions … But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it.’ ‘The sexual implications of the ...

Jigsaw Mummies

Tom Shippey: Pagan Britain, 6 November 2014

Pagan Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 480 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 19771 6
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The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria 
by Max Adams.
Head of Zeus, 450 pp., £25, August 2013, 978 1 78185 418 1
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... Mother, Earth Mother or Mother Goddess. Distinguished scholars pioneered the idea, including Sir Arthur Evans, who excavated Knossos, and the Cambridge classicist Jane Harrison, who proposed a prehistoric and peaceful woman-centred civilisation in Greece. The discovery of Palaeolithic ‘Venus figurines’, statuettes with exaggerated breasts and ...

The Real Woman in the Real Cupboard

Benjamin Markovits: Jenny Erpenbeck, 30 June 2011

by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky.
Portobello, 176 pp., £7.99, July 2011, 978 1 84627 190 8
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... his narrative alter ego) travels back to Germany from Norwich to look into the childhood of Max Ferber, an artist based loosely on Frank Auerbach. At 15 Ferber had been sent to England by his parents, who were eventually murdered in the camps at Riga. Sebald finds the silence of the people he encounters weird and unsettling: ‘I felt increasingly that ...

Uses for Horsehair

David Blackbourn, 9 February 1995

Duelling: The Cult of Honour in Fin-de-Siècle Germany 
by Kevin McAleer.
Princeton, 268 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 691 03462 1
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... Austria-Hungary provided equally fertile soil. He draws on the works of the Viennese playwright Arthur Schnitzler more than any other literary source, with the result that recognisably Habsburg types keep wandering into his German narrative. Most of the German codifications he cites also turn out to have been published in Vienna – except when they were ...

England’s Chum

John Bayley, 5 May 1988

The Hand, Great Anarch! India 1921-1952 
by Nirad Chaudhuri.
Chatto, 979 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 7011 2476 8
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The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian 
by Nirad Chaudhuri.
Hogarth, 506 pp., £7.95, November 1987, 0 7012 0800 7
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... he mastered the tactics of every battle from those of Hannibal to Tsushima and the siege of Port Arthur by the Japanese. He devoured every work on technology he could gel hold of, and confesses that his fascination with the design of field-gun breeches was largely aesthetic. The breech mechanism of the famous French soixante-quinze, however effective, did ...

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