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Life of Brian

Kevin Barry, 25 January 1990

No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien 
by Anthony Cronin.
Grafton, 260 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 246 12836 4
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... a man with his best work far behind him, to be compared dismissively with Joyce, to be detected by Patrick Kavanagh as a journalist without a sustaining myth ‘that would carry all the stuff in his column, that would lift it onto a creative plane’, was to be cruelly caught in a half-truth. For it is the distinction of Brian O’Nolan that amongst those ...

The man whose portrait they painted

Patrick Procktor, 12 July 1990

A Life with Food 
by Peter Langan and Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 128 pp., £16.99, May 1990, 9780747502203
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... and artists warmed to him, as did taxi-drivers, policemen and women. He once said to me: ‘Patrick, you’ve got a high gloss.’ I was flattered, like some polished banister. His own story begins with particularly vivid descriptions of boyhood in Clarecastle. The sex is hilarious and the recipes are inspiring and clear. On preparing mussels: ‘If ...

Diary

Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence.* There’s a world of difference between the phrase ‘you’re altogether ...

English Fame and Irish Writers

Brian Moore, 20 November 1980

Selected Poems 1956-1975 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 136 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 571 11644 2
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Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 224 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 571 11638 8
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... is too little with us – that all issues are reduced to the level of the parish pump. Yet, as Patrick Kavanagh warned, Irish writers turn outward at their peril. Disgusted by the loud quarrels of his Monaghan neighbours, he wrote: That was the year of the Munich bother. Which Was more important? I inclined To lost my faith in Ballyrish and Gortin Till ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Patrick Keiller, 7 June 2012

... down another field, diagonally, this time accompanied by a blue tractor. This pairing of views in Patrick Keiller’s 2010 film Robinson in Ruins – glimpsed again as part of his current installation at Tate Britain (on display until 14 October) – is almost too typical to be true and must, among other things, be a joke at his own expense. Since the early ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder, 28 January 1993

The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... Last September, at the very moment when hundreds of thousands of teenagers began to follow the first GCSE courses under the National Curriculum, the Education Minister John Patten infuriated the teaching profession by announcing an immediate review of the Statutory Order for English. No sooner had the review been announced than Mr Patten and his fellow ministers did their best to pre-empt its outcome ...

Naming of Parts

Patrick Parrinder, 6 June 1985

Quinx or The Ripper’s Tale 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 201 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 571 13444 0
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Helliconia Winter 
by Brian Aldiss.
Cape, 285 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 224 01847 7
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Black Robe 
by Brian Moore.
Cape, 256 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02329 2
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... We name things in order to have power over them; but we must also name them to cower before them in worship. Novelists in particular are aware of the paradoxical magic of naming. To the narrative theorist, stories are made up of simple structural units, like biological cells endlessly replicating: but the novelist, who takes possession of the story by giving names to its narrative agents and formulae, is like Glendower conjuring spirits from the vasty deep but not knowing if they will come at his call ...

At the Foundling Museum

Brian Dillon: Found, 11 August 2016

... panels and doorway are laid out at the bottom of the museum’s main stairs. On the wall nearby is Patrick Caulfield’s 1968 screenprint Found Objects. On a plain mauve ground, a feeble collection of archaeological finds is set out: a couple of potsherds, half a dozen pebbles, a few twigs and two white dots that might be lumps of chalk. The picture is a ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: ‘Phantom Ride’, 4 July 2013

... and tripod. There’s another machine gun among a cluster of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s sculptures. Patrick Keiller’s 2012 installation The Robinson Institute (which also involved the filmmaker trawling the Tate archives) supplies several apposite works, among them Leonard Rosoman’s 1942 painting Bomb Falling into Water. In the press release for Phantom ...

Sea Creatures

Peter Campbell, 23 July 1987

Sidney Nolan: Such is life 
by Brian Adams.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £16.95, June 1987, 0 09 168430 7
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Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures 
by John Wilmerding.
Viking, 208 pp., £25, September 1987, 9780670817665
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Faces 1966-1984 
by David Hockney and Marco Livingstone.
Thames and Hudson, 96 pp., £8.95, June 1987, 0 500 27464 9
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... occasion of new sequences of paintings. He became a popular provider of book jackets (C.P Snow and Patrick White, for example), and of stage sets for ballet and opera. The Queen bought his pictures, and he was knighted and awarded the OM. Kenneth Clark wrote an introduction to a monograph on Nolan’s work, and Nolan went to Sweden to accept ...

Britishmen

Tom Paulin, 5 November 1981

Too Long a Sacrifice: Life and Death in Northern Ireland since 1969 
by Jack Holland.
Columbus, 217 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 396 07934 2
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A History of Northern Ireland 
by Patrick Buckland.
Gill and Macmillan, 195 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 7171 1069 9
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... a developing process which aims at the establishment of a full cultural identity. Unfortunately, Patrick Buckland has not meditated on these questions and his title, A History of Northern Ireland, is offered without irony. Although Buckland is more of a memorialist than a serious historian, he has performed a valuable service in such works as The Factory of ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder, 18 November 1993

The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... Trinidadian novelist’. This might place him with such non-British writers as Nadine Gordimer and Patrick White, but he is later included in Bradbury’s alphabetical checklist of British novelists since 1876. It looks as if an adverse judgment has been passed by default. It is not that Bradbury shies away from evaluative criticism: the book is full of ...

Foreign Body

Tim Winton, 22 June 1995

Patrick White: Letters 
edited by David Marr.
Cape, 678 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 224 03516 9
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... Loved and loathed, Patrick White loomed over Australian literature for decades as a distant, grimacing colossus. There was simply no way around him, no way he could not be taken into consideration. Not only did he appropriate the physical and spiritual landscape in his major novels, The Tree of Man, Voss and Riders in the Chariot: in cultural terms he became the landscape ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

Duffy 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... there may be the good reason that the author has something important to lose if he’s recognised. Patrick Mann’s novels (Steal Big, Dog Day Afternoon) carry the front-cover information that ‘Patrick Mann is the pseudonym of a former US Army Intelligence agent who has for many years been a crime reporter for a nationwide ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne, 7 September 2000

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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Triodes 
by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... Calme bloc ici-bas chu d’un désastre obscur’ (‘calm block fallen here below from some obscure disaster’): this line from Mallarmé’s ‘Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe’ seems an apt description of his own poems – aftermaths of stellar catastrophes, meteors sitting impassively in their craters, enigmatic wreckage from some temporal or spatial elsewhere ...

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