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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 ...

Whitehall Farces

Patrick Parrinder, 8 October 1992

Now you know 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 9780670845545
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... In its attitude towards Dickens,’ George Orwell wrote, ‘the English public has always been a little like the elephant which feels a blow with a walking-stick as a delightful tickling ... One knows without needing to be told that lawyers delight in Sergeant Buzfuz and that Little Dorrit is a favourite in the Home Office.’ Lawyers these days doubtless read John Mortimer, and dons read the new university wits like David Lodge and Tom Sharpe ...

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 ...

Short Cuts

James Francken: The Booker Prize shortlist, 2 November 2000

... announced, he appeared on Channel 4’s Late Night Poker, seated at the table with Anthony Holden, Patrick Marber, Al Alvarez and Stephen Fry. It was a close, colourful game – Holden was the wiliest of the players and picked up seven grand. The stakes will be higher on Booker night, but it’s hard to imagine that Channel 4’s live broadcast from Guildhall ...

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 ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... necessary to do any of the thousand special things that have been done there. John Major and Sir Patrick Mayhew do not like it, but one of the defining characteristics of Irish Nationalism – and Unionism, for that matter – is that it has always had a tradition of physical force. The survival of that tradition is lamentable and anachronistic, but they are ...

Tearing up the Race Card

Paul Foot, 30 November 1995

The New Untouchables: Immigration and the New World Worker 
by Nigel Harris.
Tauris, 256 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85043 956 7
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The Cambridge Survey of World Migration 
edited by Robin Cohen.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £75, November 1995, 0 521 44405 5
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... performance in that election was the response of his main adversary, the sitting Labour MP, Patrick Gordon-Walker. Gordon-Walker had led Labour’s Parliamentary opposition to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, the first ever legislative restriction on the right of entry into Britain of some 600 million citizens of the Commonwealth. He and his ...

Diary

Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire, 22 September 1994

... given to the question of whether ‘complete’ meant ‘permanent’. On The World at One, Sir Patrick Mayhew was invited to respond to a (dubbed) interview with Martin McGuinness in which Sinn Fein’s vice-president had said the ceasefire would endure ‘in all circumstances’. Mayhew said he thought what Martin had had to say was of great ...

Clutching at Railings

Jonathan Coe: Late Flann O’Brien, 24 October 2013

Plays and Teleplays 
by Flann O’Brien, edited by Daniel Keith Jernigan.
Dalkey, 434 pp., £9.50, September 2013, 978 1 56478 890 0
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The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien 
edited by Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper.
Dalkey, 158 pp., £9.50, August 2013, 978 1 56478 889 4
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... discovered Flann O’Brien in the late 1970s, background information could not easily be found. In Patrick Power’s excellent translation I read The Poor Mouth (An Béal Bocht) with enjoyment but without suspecting that it was intended as a parody of a whole sub-genre of Gaelic misery memoirs. I read The Best of Myles through a fog of cheerful ignorance about ...

Allegedly

Michael Davie, 1 November 1984

Public Scandal, Odium and Contempt: An Investigation of Recent Libel Cases 
by David Hooper.
Secker, 230 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 436 20093 7
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... the only person of that name associated with Throgmorton Street. Under cross-examination by Sir Patrick Hastings, however, Mr Blennerhasset admitted that he did not play golf, did not play with a Yo-Yo and had never been in a lunatic asylum. Not making much progress on the confusion of identity argument, Blennerhasset then called one of his partners into ...

Pamphleteer’s Progress

Patrick Parrinder, 7 February 1985

The Function of Criticism: From the ‘Spectator’ to Post-Structuralism 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 133 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 86091 091 1
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... Terry Eagleton’s books have been getting shorter recently. It is eight years since he offered to re-situate literary criticism on the ‘alternative terrain of scientific knowledge’; three since, self-canonised, he included his name in a list of major Marxist theoreticians of the 20th century. The Function of Criticism is a history of three centuries of English criticism in little more than a hundred pages ...

How long before Ofop steps in?

Patrick Carnegy, 16 March 2000

In House: Covent Garden, 50 Years of Opera and Ballet 
by John Tooley.
Faber, 318 pp., £25, November 1999, 9780571194155
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Never Mind the Moon: My Time at the Royal Opera House 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Bantam, 356 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 593 04355 3
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... As the Royal Opera House staged its grand reopening, two of its former bosses filed conflicting accounts of its recent history. Both John Tooley (1970-88) and Jeremy Isaacs (1988-97) describe the House’s considerable achievements over the past half-century; and Isaacs’s part in pushing through the magnificent rebuilding was heroic. What we still want to know is why things also went so cataclysmically wrong ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism, 22 June 2006

The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... Henry VIII is the most immediately recognisable of all English monarchs, present company excepted. He has been declared a national icon, and we are told that he vies with Adolf Hitler for the exclusive attention of any secondary school pupil unwise enough to pursue the study of history beyond the age of 14. On my way to lecture on him in Cambridge once, I left my bike for repair at Ben Hayward’s cycle shop, happening to mention that Henry was on the menu that morning ...

Application for Funding

John Bossy, 23 April 1992

Francis Bacon, the State, and the Reform of Natural Philosophy 
by Julian Martin.
Cambridge, 236 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 521 38249 1
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... in the Church. So far as I can see, this is what historians like Christopher Hill and Patrick Collinson feel he ought to have said, rather than what he actually did say: indeed, like Hooker, he expressly exonerated the Puritans from preaching voluntaryism. And even if he had said it, Martin’s conclusion would still be unjustified: ‘Bacon ...

Do, Not, Love, Make, Beds

David Wheatley: Irish literary magazines, 3 June 2004

Irish Literary Magazines: An Outline History and Descriptive Bibliography 
Irish Academic, 318 pp., £35, January 2003, 0 7165 2751 0Show More
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... some way to overturning this stereotype, but the editors of the journals don’t help themselves. Patrick Kavanagh wrote: ‘there is practically no literary public in this country and there has never been a literary tradition,’ a fact that must have slipped his mind when he founded Kavanagh’s Weekly with his brother Peter in 1952, a cranky rattle-bag of ...

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