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Flying Colours

Nicholas Best

17 April 1986
Lester: The Official Biography 
by Dick Francis.
Joseph, 338 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 7181 1255 5
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Born Lucky 
by John Francome.
Pelham, 157 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 7207 1635 7
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... the flat or over the sticks there is no quarter given in racing, none expected. Jockeys may be the best of friends in the weighing-room – though the most successful are often loners – but once under starter’s orders it is every man for himself. No room for the amateur, no room for any but the most hardened, mentally and ...

Nuclear Fiction

D.A.N. Jones

8 May 1986
The Nuclear Age 
by Tim O’Brien.
Collins, 312 pp., £10.95, March 1986, 0 00 223015 1
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Acts of Faith 
by Hans Koning.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 9780575037441
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A Funny Dirty Little War 
by Osvaldo Soriano, translated by Nick Caistor.
Readers International, 108 pp., £7.95, March 1986, 0 930523 17 2
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by Nuruddin Farah.
Picador, 246 pp., £3.50, March 1986, 0 330 28710 9
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Tennis and the Masai 
by Nicholas Best.
Hutchinson, 176 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 09 163770 8
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Dear Shadows 
by Max Egremont.
Secker, 310 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 436 14160 4
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... exercises we turn to the merry snobberies of Kenya in Tennis and the Masai. In this farce-novel, Nicholas Best deliberately imitates Evelyn Waugh, but he is less serious, more racist in an unthinking, harmless way. Most of the action is set in Haggard Hall, a gruesome Kenya-British prep-school, multi-racial in intent – for the houses are called ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... In the manuscript of her lecture, a cancelled sentence names the missing; first on her list is Nicholas Moore. Not just the publishers, but pretty much everything else had failed for Moore. The son of the Cambridge philosopher G.E. Moore, he had begun to publish poems in his teens. Though his father had sounded out the Hogarth Press, ...


Nicholas Spice: Dreaming of Vikram Seth

29 April 1999
An Equal Music 
by Vikram Seth.
Phoenix House, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1999, 1 86159 117 9
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... if I should tell him. He might find it interesting. This would depend on whether he’d had Nicholas Spice in mind when he invented Nicholas Spare, an odious music critic whom the nice characters in An Equal Music loathe. I decided to avoid the subject of Nicholas Spare. Instead we ...

Surrealism à la Courbet

Nicholas Penny: Balthus

24 May 2001
Balthus: Catalogue raisonné of the Complete Works 
by Jean Clair and Virginie Monnier.
Abrams, 576 pp., £140, January 2000, 0 8109 6394 9
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by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Weidenfeld, 650 pp., £30, May 2000, 0 297 64323 1
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... perspective and some kind of narrative content into avant-garde Parisian painting, and in the best of his pictures of this time perspective can even be said to become part of the narrative. In The Window a young woman, perched on a window seat, stares in terror at someone – at us – entering the room, that is, looking into the picture. The lines of the ...
20 June 1996
The Romanovs: The Final Chapter 
by Robert Massie.
Cape, 308 pp., £17.99, November 1995, 0 224 04192 4
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The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution 
by Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev.
Yale, 444 pp., £18.50, November 1995, 0 300 06557 4
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... and determined to do as much good for Russia as they were capable of. But their deification – Nicholas will probably be canonised before the year is out – is also absurd: the Romanovs were in general inept, remote, narrow-minded, anti-semitic, intolerant, repressive and irresponsible. While Russian revisionist history of the last decade has finally ...

Hallo Dad

Christopher Ricks

2 October 1980
Mr Nicholas Sir Henry and Sons Daymare 
by Thomas Hinde.
Macmillan, 271 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 333 29539 0
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... The last word of the reissue of Mr Nicholas, Thomas Hinde’s exquisitely glum and fearingly funny novel of 1952, is probably a misprint. At least, it is minutely different from the last word in the Penguin book in 1962, the issue which brought Hinde’s consummate first novel to an even more widely appreciative public ...


Ian Buruma

9 March 1995
The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War 
by Lynn Nicholas.
Macmillan, 498 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62652 4
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... the Japanese Imperial Army in 1937. And the third, described by William Shirer, and quoted by Lynn Nicholas, is about the Germans in Vienna after the Anschluss in 1938. It is probably right to conclude from these and many other examples that looting is as natural to human beings as raping and killing. In the state of nature, people show their strength by ...

Best of British

Nicholas Penny

2 December 1993
by John McEwen and John Haddington.
Canongate, 96 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 08 624324 1
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Henry Moore: An Interpretation 
by Peter Fuller, edited by Anthony O’Hear.
Methuen, 98 pp., £16, September 1993, 9780413676207
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... Henry Moore was attracted by the idea of monumentality. He tried hard, but with limited success, to find ways of incorporating his sculpture into modern buildings. He also had the attractive idea of locating some of his statues in remote settings, following the example of his friend the late Sir William Keswick, who placed four of Moore’s sculptures, as well as one by Rodin and one by Epstein, in the wild landscape of the estate he owned in south-west Scotland ...

Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers

4 November 1982
Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 28849 4
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... Nicholas Mosley’s parents, Cynthia Curzon and Oswald Mosley, were married in the Chapel Royal, St James’s on 11 May 1920: ‘Cimmie’s wedding dress had a design of green leaves in it, in defiance of a superstition that green at a wedding was unlucky: there was also a superstition that it was unlucky to be married in May ...


Christopher de Bellaigue: Getting married in Iran

5 July 2001
... of Tehran where a bus will pick us up, I feel a mild sensation of dread. My people – my father, Nicholas (brother), Rory (oldest friend), Christina (cousin) and Camilla (relieved ex-girlfriend) – are undeniably different from the Ghezelayagh family and appendages. It would be foolish to expect the two families to bond instantly when the son of a retired ...
31 May 2017
... was not helped by the ‘modernist’ decor. The architects, Hobsbawm wrote, ‘did their level best to make the stark interior resemble a station waiting room’, although its severity was relieved by paintings, drawings, etchings – and chessboards. To make matters worse the menus, also designed by Samuel, were eclectic, part East End Jewish, part ...

Nation of Mutes

Tony Wood: Marquis de Custine

24 August 2000
A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine 
by Anka Muhlstein, translated by Teresa Waugh.
Helen Marx, 393 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 1 885983 41 7
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... The Marquis de Custine is best known for La Russie en 1839, an eloquent account of his travels across European Russia and of the horrors and absurdities of the Russian autocracy. Born in 1790, Custine lost his grandfather at the age of three and, a year later, his father: both were executed during the Jacobin Terror, although both had been sympathetic to the Revolution ...


Julian Loose

25 June 1992
Crystal Rooms 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 342 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 340 56409 1
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... when Cumberland’s favourite son returns home, he does so as novelist or as researcher. At its best, Bragg’s prose exhibits a kind of effortless brio, a vertical take-off into rhetorical excess. Vivid and often violent imagery course through For Want of a Nail, which from its opening line pulses with a child’s awareness of conflict, real and imaginary ...
6 August 1992
The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... The best-known publication date in English literature,’ says Michael Mason of 1798. But the terse, intelligent Introduction to his new edition of the Lyrical Ballads seems out to disperse the sense of unique significance sticking to the year. Mason points out that the original version of 1798, which was anonymous, caught on less well than the second (1800), twice as long, and firmly attributed to Wordsworth alone ...

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