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Being on top

John Ryle, 20 February 1986

Sexual Desire 
by Roger Scruton.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.95, February 1986, 9780297784791
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Pantheon, 293 pp., $17.95, December 1985, 0 394 54349 1
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Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times 
by Philippe Ariès and André Béjin, translated by Anthony Forster.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 9780631134763
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No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 
by Allan Brandt.
Oxford (New York), 245 pp., £18.50, August 1985, 0 19 503469 4
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by Nancy Friday.
Collins, 593 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 00 217587 8
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... elegance that is often a source of pleasure. (In a couple of pages on jealousy he says more than Nancy Friday in a whole book on the subject.) Here is Scruton on ‘the aim of desire’: The bodily unity that lies within my grasp is identified in my thinking with another unity, that of the perspective which ‘peers’ from its face. It is into the ...

Feeling Right

Will Woodward: The Iowa Straw Poll, 16 September 1999

... with the recognisable language and manner of Labour Party activists. One guest of the Hatches, Nancy Stillians, is preoccupied with campaign finance reform, and tells me ideally she would vote for a bizarre dream-ticket of Bradley and Republican senator John McCain, who both advocate it. But most are straightforwardly undecided between Bradley and the ...

National Treasure

Christopher Hitchens, 14 November 1996

Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir 
by John Davis.
Wiley, 256 pp., £14.99, October 1996, 0 471 12945 3
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... was his lack of means. Nor was Jackie sentimental when it came to money; family lore about Black Friday and the Crash was in her bones and she cancelled at least one betrothal on fiduciary grounds alone.The Auchincloss-Lee-Bouvier family tree is one of those absurd growths that can flourish only in American soil. Were the Lees descended from Robert ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams Made it Work, 19 December 2019

The Man who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’ and the Writing Life 
by Charles Shields.
Texas, 305 pp., £23.99, October 2018, 978 1 4773 1736 5
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Nothing but the Night 
by John Williams.
NYRB, 144 pp., $14.95, February 2019, 978 1 68137 307 2
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... unfiltered correspondence, though he can’t have been amused when Butch’s Week with No Friday, a drugstore paperback about boozy artists in Mexico, came out a month before Stoner did and outsold it two to one.Williams’s​ first stab at a second novel, ‘Splendid in Ashes’, which centred on the mysterious personality of an alcoholic veteran of ...

At the Hydropathic

T.J. Binyon, 6 December 1984

Agatha Christie 
by Janet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... Mountbatten and which certainly has claims to be the most ingenious of her novels. At 11 p.m. on Friday 3 December she came downstairs, got into her car, drove off into the darkness and vanished. The car was discovered abandoned the next morning at Newlands Corner, near Guildford. For the next ten days the Police scoured the Downs, dragged pools and ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... a trifle too leftist, are sound.’ But they did not turn out to be permanently palatable. ‘Friday 3 October 1952: After dinner we watched a political debate on television – Michael Foot disgusting.’ Since Foot is never mentioned again, it is hard to judge whether this verdict attaches merely to his televisual performance on this one occasion, or to ...

One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham, 4 October 2001

The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... Head and in Madron (the latter given to him and Nessie rent-free for life by the painter Nancy Wynne-Jones), as Graham became less and less inclined to move about. Though he craved new experiences and foreign travel, he couldn’t cope with either, however much he savoured his memories of travel. His trips to Iceland in 1961 and to Crete three years ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... seem to come with a hut that is less of a garden shed than a summerhouse, outside which, this warm Friday afternoon, oldish couples in skimpy bathing costumes are taking the sun, with one old man naked except for a G-string. I imagine the owners of these plots and pavilions live in the high flats nearby, though such a tempting display of civility and order ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice, 7 February 2008

Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... Women are dancing, elemental, untroubled by the clock: compensations for the poet’s unease. Nancy Sharp, who went with him to the Hebrides, and who illustrated I Crossed the Minch, is praised for ‘living like a fugue and moving . . . Like the dazzle on the sea’. Being in love was about stopping time. In ‘Meeting Point’, an escalator pauses, a ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... to sit back, not worry, and enjoy the spectacle of Trump’s plan unfolding. ‘Get the popcorn, Friday and Sunday will deliver,’ he said in 2017 when making one abortive prediction. ‘Trust the plan. Step back,’ he told an impatient supporter in 2018. Q has told followers to ‘trust the plan’ 27 times – a plan they have no role in carrying out.The ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... the cosiest room in the house. Used to the lav not being over-warm, I now find it luxurious. In Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love the Radlett children in their arctic house used to foregather in its warmest spot, the airing cupboard. With us it would have to be the loo.16 February. To St Paul’s, Covent Garden and the memorial service for the actor Ben ...

Bantu in the Bathroom

Jacqueline Rose, 19 November 2015

... to be delivered at a school in Johannesburg in honour of Anene Booysen and in support of the Black Friday campaign for Rape Awareness. In the final year of her law degree, Steenkamp broke her back in a riding accident. On recovery, she returned to complete her degree and resolved to pursue her dream of becoming a model in the big city. ‘I believe,’ she ...

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