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A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... her manuscript). The American critic Albert Gelpi’s acknowledgments in his new book on C. Day Lewis are typically strange. Gelpi has made his name writing about the history of 19th and 20th-century American poetry and poetics. For a critic whose most recent publications include an edition of Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose(1993), a book about Day ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Peeping Tom’, 2 December 2010

The Peeping Tom 
directed by Michael Powell.
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... namesake, could not ‘wash his hands of responsibility for this essentially vicious film’), and Michael Powell’s career went into a slump. You can see the film on a Criterion Collection DVD with an excellent commentary by Laura Mulvey, or you can walk out yourselves from the Curzon and other cinemas, where it is now showing in a restored print. Martin ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’, 15 July 2021

... he seems more a curser than a killer. Reynolds, as Jackson’s supposed protector, the bodyguard Michael Bryce, says he has ‘single-handedly ruined the word motherfucker’. I don’t know about the ruin, but he certainly uses the word a lot. We may have thought there was going to be a bit of metaplay in the film when we learned that the Japanese ...

Be grateful for drizzle

Donald MacKenzie: High-Frequency Trading, 11 September 2014

... bad weather. Three years ago, millimetre-wave links ‘would go down when someone sneezed’, says Michael Persico, whose Chicago firm, Anova Technologies, uses these links. Even today, they tend to stop working in heavy rain. So Anova has begun to use lasers to supplement its millimetre waves. Lasers have vulnerabilities too (fog is a big problem), but Anova ...

The Enemy

Marian FitzGerald: The Great Prison Disaster, 18 December 2003

Prisongate: The Shocking State of Britain’s Prisons and the Need for Visionary Change 
by David Ramsbotham.
Free Press, 267 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 7432 3884 2
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... In 1995 Michael Howard, the Tory Home Secretary, dismissed Derek Lewis from his post as Director General of the Prison Service and appointed David Ramsbotham Chief Inspector of Prisons. Lewis then wrote a book about his experience – Hidden Agendas: Politics, Law and Disorder (1997) – which reflects very badly on Howard ...

High Priest of Mumbo-Jumbo

R.W. Johnson, 13 November 1997

Lord Hailsham: A Life 
by Geoffrey Lewis.
Cape, 403 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 224 04252 1
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... slightly muddled, BBC-battered people to see things more clearly’.) The title of Geoffrey Lewis’s biography could have been ‘Quintin Hogg’, ‘Quintin Hailsham’ or just ‘Hailsham’. No one, after all, would dream of writing a biography of, say, Harold Wilson and calling it ‘Lord Wilson’ because deep down we know that was all a hollow ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don, 8 May 1986

... How Alan had loathed the loathsome Dylan Thomas. How Alan had crossed swords with C.S. Lewis, Magdalen’s Fellow in English, on this or that occasion. How, on being asked as a young man at interview whether it was true that he had strongly-held left-wing views, he had replied: ‘No. I have extreme views, weakly held.’ How Alan had been invited ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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Striker 
by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... which was rapidly becoming disillusioned. Nevertheless, in the course of that novel Snow has Lewis Eliot observe usefully: ‘Countries, when their power is slipping away, are always liable to do idiotic things. So are social classes.’ Redhill Rococo and Striker offer something in the way of light relief. Idiocy has filtered down and its symptoms are ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne, 21 November 1991

The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... suicide, and 44 after his big book The James Family: A Group Biography, here is R.W.B. Lewis, Matthiessen’s pupil at Harvard, with one on the same subject, nearly as big. Its very title twists a touch awkwardly to avoid repeating that of its precursor, to which Lewis acknowledges a large debt. But The Jameses ...

Muldoon – A Mystery

Michael Hofmann, 20 December 1990

Madoc – A Mystery 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 261 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14489 6
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... of the United States, as Muldoon works in (I’m not always sure how) some of the pioneers, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the (Celtic) Indian Wars, eventually returning home in the person of the 19th-century (Irish?) artist and painter of ‘native Americans’, George Catlin, whose Rushes through the Middle graces the cover of Madoc. Oh, and one other ...

The man who missed his life

Michael Wood, 10 February 1994

The Age of Innocence 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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The Age of Innocence 
by Edith Wharton, introduced by Peter Washington.
Everyman, 308 pp., £9.99, September 1993, 1 85715 202 6
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... class, who think most of America is low and all of Europe is louche. Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is about to be engaged to May Welland (Winona Ryder), whose cousin Ellen (Michelle Pfeiffer) has made an unfortunate marriage to a Polish count. Ellen, in flight from marital horrors too dire for Wharton or the movie to mention, has returned to her family ...

Favourite Subjects

J.I.M. Stewart, 17 September 1981

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 
edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien.
Allen and Unwin, 463 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 04 826005 3
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Tolkien and the Silmarils 
by Randel Helms.
Thames and Hudson, 104 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 500 01264 4
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... to Charles Williams’s mind, and although he has many warm and generous things to say about C.S. Lewis there comes a point at which he judges that ‘his ponderous silliness is becoming a fixed manner.’ Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer is a ‘distressing and in parts horrifying work’ – not much better (one is made to feel) than the sick-making ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... contribution is ‘to argue for the stylistic influence of the early Vorticist prose of Wyndham Lewis on key texts of Joyce, Pound and Eliot and to reaffirm Lewis’s important role within the Modernist venture’. However, his study of these texts has led him to the ‘distinctly unconventional hypothesis’ that they ...

Diary

Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... War in a fashion incomprehensible to those who view it only through the writings of the war poets. Lewis Hastings, born in 1880, had run away from Stonyhurst to South Africa aged 18, and roamed that country thereafter as hunter, policeman, prospector, star rugby player and not unsuccessful part-time politician. In 1914 he led a national recruiting campaign for ...

Roll Call

Michael Stewart, 5 September 1985

Crowded Hours 
by Eric Roll.
Faber, 254 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13497 1
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... problem of creating a European Community cannot be denied if it means – as a little help from Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary suggests that it does – What a frightfully laborious business it was, constructing the Roman nation.) Lord Roll’s memoirs are cool and bland, full of balanced judgments and informed good sense. There is hardly a harsh word ...

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