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Zachary Leader

6 December 1979
Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright 
by Steven Millhauser.
Routledge, 305 pp., £4.95
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A Prize Paradise 
by Oliver Pritchett.
Eyre Methuen, 171 pp., £4.95
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A Revenger’s Comedy 
by Derwent May.
Chatto, 191 pp., £5.95
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... Humbert-like obsessiveness is revealed, and the (on the whole) becoming tentativeness with which its relation to the hoary chestnuts ‘Art v. Life’ and ‘Intellect v. Instinct’ is suggested. OliverPritchett’s A Prize Paradise, another first novel, is altogether more modest and familiar: a modishly spare and astringent satiric farce, in the manners of Waugh and Amis. Its hero of sorts ...

Life at the Pastry Board

Stefan Collini: V.S. Pritchett

4 November 2004
V.S. PritchettA Working Life 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Chatto, 308 pp., £25, October 2004, 9780701173227
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... secret of happiness, it has been said, is to develop habits whose repetition we find enjoyable and whose outcomes we find satisfying. For the greater part of his very long adult life, Victor Sawdon Pritchett seems to have been a happy man. Pritchett’s son, Oliver, later recalled that he and his sister grew up ‘in a word factory’. ‘The handwritten pages, covered in revisions, crossings out, second ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens

28 June 1990
Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... spectacle with an interminable monologue about the history of the uniforms and the origins of the ritual before them. Charles gave his spluttering laugh. And it was so boring and pointless.’ And OliverPritchett tells Alexander Chancellor a middling good yarn (‘Perry’ is Peregrine Worsthorne): He said he’d just seen the most sinister man he’d ever clapped eyes on moving towards Perry’s ...

The Cookson Story

Stefan Collini: The British Working Class

13 December 2001
The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes 
by Jonathan Rose.
Yale, 534 pp., £29.95, June 2001, 0 300 08886 8
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... serious, as opposed to ‘popular’, writer after that period earned a place alongside the immortals. The increasing datedness of the autodidact canon could itself become a handicap: the young V.S. Pritchett (though hardly working class in origin) dreamed of entering literary bohemia in the late 1910s, but ‘all my tastes were conventionally Victorian . . . I seemed irredeemably backward and lower class ...

Liquored-Up

Stefan Collini: Edmund Wilson

17 November 2005
Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature 
by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 642 pp., £35, August 2005, 0 374 11312 2
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... an old-style Abe-Lincoln-admiring, man’s-last-best-hope-believing, republican citizen. Thinking about his near contemporaries in Britain, it is tempting to try to see Wilson as a blend of Orwell, Pritchett and Isaiah Berlin (also writers around whom a fair bit of nostalgic commentary has clustered). But even that alluring amalgam doesn’t altogether catch him, and one element it doesn’t represent is ...

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