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Seeing Things

John Bayley, 18 July 1996

The World, the World 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 293 pp., £18.99, April 1996, 0 224 04234 3
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Omnibus: ‘A Dragon Apparent’, ‘Golden Earth’, ‘A Goddess in the Stones’ 
by Norman Lewis.
Picador, 834 pp., £9.99, January 1996, 0 330 33780 7
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... round their penises. He looks like a sales rep, come to show them a new line in tupperware. But Norman Lewis has always maintained a low profile when it comes to exploring. His admirable series of travel books and travel novels, informative, neatly written, and full of a dry detached humour, make Lawrence of Arabia or Bruce Chatwin, even Wilfred ...

Horrors and Hidden Money

D.A.N. Jones, 6 February 1986

Jackdaw Cake: ‘An Autobiography’ 
by Norman Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 214 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 241 11689 9
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... Would we buy a used car from Norman Lewis? He certainly seems to know a lot about them. There is a picture on the dust-cover of the young Lewis (he was born in 1918) proudly at the wheel of a Bugatti, and he describes, too briefly, his dangerous experience with such a machine at Brooklands in 1939, his last adventure in serious motor-racing ...

Enfield was nothing

P.N. Furbank: Norman Lewis, 18 December 2003

The Tomb in Seville 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 150 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 224 07120 3
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... in a single foreign spot. We might call it ‘acclimatisation’. The point is very relevant to Norman Lewis. Lewis, who died in July at the age of 95, began a career as a travel writer in 1935, with a facetious entertainment entitled Spanish Adventure, which he later did his best to suppress and blot out of the ...

Doctor, Doctor

D.A.N. Jones, 19 April 1984

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 276 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 49734 4
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The Suburbs of Hell 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 165 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 436 49735 2
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Kingsley’s Touch 
by John Collee.
Allen Lane, 206 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1633 8
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A Suitable Case for Corruption 
by Norman Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11178 1
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... these novels might almost be called thrillers, their plots resembling sensational news items. With Norman Lewis we read of plans to assassinate statesmen in Egypt and Libya, with evil American agents blackmailing honest Britishers. John Collee tells of a wonder cure for cancer devised by a Hindu mystic in a Scottish city where surgeons’ knives are used ...

Candle Moments

Andrew O’Hagan: Norman Lewis’s Inventions, 25 September 2008

Semi-Invisible Man: The Life of Norman Lewis 
by Julian Evans.
Cape, 792 pp., £25, June 2008, 978 0 224 07275 5
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... to catch the movement of his subject’s character, his strategies of revelation and concealment. Norman Lewis met Hemingway in December 1957 outside Havana. The visit proved a shocking disappointment; it was also a warning. Hemingway sloped around his bedroom in pyjamas, gulping huge glasses of Dubonnet, saying nothing and dismissing everything, while ...

Through the Grinder

Graham Coster, 8 February 1996

The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 523 pp., £17.50, November 1995, 0 241 13504 4
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... itinerary further truncated by illness; for Voices of the Old Sea, perhaps his best travel-book, Norman Lewis hung out in a small Portuguese fishing village. Theroux’s mileage always clocks up a high four figures. And while desultory, capricious travel tends to reveal its elusive agenda only belatedly – Greene’s acknowledgment, in the grip of ...

World’s End

John Ryle, 13 October 1988

The Missionaries 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 245 pp., £10.95, May 1988, 0 436 24595 7
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... its style more personal and episodic and its condemnation of the missionaries more unequivocal. Norman Lewis is a writer of unusual anthropological sensibility with an honourable record in the field: government policy in Brazil was changed as a result of the international protests which followed his campaigning article in the Sunday Times on the ...

Dying Falls

John Lanchester, 23 July 1987

Temporary Shelter 
by Mary Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 231 pp., £11.95, July 1987, 0 7475 0006 1
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Bluebeard’s Egg 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 287 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 224 02245 8
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The Native 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 122 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3247 7
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The March of the Long Shadows 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 232 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 24620 1
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... and dies, they grow closer, a process which has a lot to do with realising how alike they are. Norman Lewis is not famous for being an advocate of literary Post-Modernism, but the title of his book The Sicilian Specialist comes close to flirting with self-referentiality. The March of the Long Shadows is set in Sicily in 1947. The narrator, John ...

At the Malin Gallery

Adam Shatz: Oliver Lee Jackson, 5 March 2020

... subject nor the underlying theme of his work, any more than it is in the paintings of Alma Thomas, Norman Lewis, Jack Whitten, Ed Clark or Frank Bowling.Jackson belongs in the company of these black modernists, who are only now being recognised by museums that have long ignored them. White institutions weren’t the only ones standing in the way. As Darby ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... persuaded by him to begin his career as a writer on the Magazine. Others, it should be said, like Norman Lewis, were not his protégés. The standard was high. We were subjected to intense envy and dislike from those on the newspaper on the floors above us. When you pressed the button to the fourth floor, eyeballs would roll towards the roof, sneers were ...

Desperate Responses

Richard Hyman, 5 April 1984

Industry, Unions and Government: Twenty-One Years of NEDC 
by Keith Middlemas.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, January 1984, 0 333 35121 5
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Strikes in Post-War Britain: A Study of Stoppages of Work Due to Industrial Disputes, 1946-73 
by J.W. Durcan, W.E.J. McCarthy and G.P. Redman.
Allen and Unwin, 448 pp., £20, November 1983, 0 04 331093 1
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Picketing: Industrial Disputes, Tactics and the Law 
by Peggy Kahn, Norman Lewis, Rowland Livock and Paul Wiles.
Routledge, 223 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9534 1
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... The incredible frequency of these strikes proves best of all the extent to which the social war has broken out all over England. No week passes, scarcely a day, indeed, in which there is not a strike in some direction, now against a reduction, then against a refusal to raise the rate of wages ... sometimes against new machinery, or for a hundred other reasons ...

Top Grumpy’s Top Hate

Robert Irwin: Richard Aldington’s Gripes, 18 February 1999

Richard Aldington and Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale 
by Fred Crawford.
Southern Illinois, 265 pp., £31.95, July 1998, 0 8093 2166 1
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Lawrence the Uncrowned King of Arabia 
by Michael Asher.
Viking, 419 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87029 3
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... to memory by the fraternity’. Although Aldington managed to remain on friendly terms with Norman Douglas and Pino Orioli until their deaths, it was a close-run thing, for both were homosexual. ‘Norman himself was apt to describe some of the men he disliked as “the wrong kind of sod, my dear”,’ Aldington ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones, 21 November 1985

The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... sketch of a new sort of British security officer in 1984. (His story begins in 1936.) Gwyn Lewis, under security scrutiny, is surprised by the appearance of his interrogator: ‘the very expensive City suit, the healthy confidence of skin and voice, the profound self assurance of manner and gesture, seemed to belong in a different, moneyed or ...

Megalomaniac and Loser

Norman Hampson, 21 March 1985

Beyond the Terror: Essays in French Regional and Social History 1794-1815 
edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas.
Cambridge, 276 pp., £22.50, October 1983, 0 521 25114 1
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Chouannerie and Counter-Revolution: Puisaye, the Princes and the British Government in the 1790s 
by Maurice Hutt.
Cambridge, 630 pp., £60, December 1983, 0 521 22603 1
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Britain and Revolutionary France: Conflict, Subversion and Propaganda 
edited by Colin Jones.
Exeter, 96 pp., £1.75, June 1983, 0 85989 179 8
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... with each other, we should know that they were all dead. The volume of essays, edited by Gwynne Lewis and Colin Lucas in honour of Richard Cobb, deals mostly with the later years of the Revolution, between the fall of Robespierre and the advent of Bonaparte. The period has always been rather an embarrassment to historians who are looking for patterns. If ...

The Biographer’s Story

Jonathan Coe, 8 September 1994

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers 
by Roger Lewis.
Century, 817 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7126 3801 6
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... haste and recently died in California of a drug overdose. So much for the facts. One of Roger Lewis’s main achievements in his new and frankly enormous biography – at least four times longer than any of the others – is to have fleshed this skeleton out to the point of corpulence with a great deal of arcane and exhaustively researched detail. But the ...

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