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Bogey Man

Richard Mayne

15 July 1982
Camus: A Critical Study of his Life and Work 
by Patrick McCarthy.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 241 10603 6
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Albert Camus: A Biography 
by Herbert Lottman.
Picador, 753 pp., £3.95, February 1981, 0 330 26262 9
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The Narcissistic Text: A Reading of Camus’s Fiction 
by Brian Fitch.
Toronto, 128 pp., £12.25, April 1982, 0 8020 2426 2
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The Outsider 
by Albert Camus, translated by Joseph Laredo.
Hamish Hamilton, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1982, 0 241 10778 4
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... they seldom get anything by their Victory but new Masters.’ This, naturally, drew down thunderbolts of Sartrean abuse, which made permanent the breach between Camus and their author. Even now, PatrickMcCarthy regards L’Homme Révolté as not merely Camus’s ‘worst book but one that did him great harm’ – ‘yet another chapter in the “God-that-failed” saga’. That, I think, is unfair ...
15 September 1988
Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad: ‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... whom he had a rival in Yeats. Another whose marriage he triangulated was Janet Achurch: yet another, on whom he worked mostly by letter, was Ellen Terry. And there were more actresses, among them Mrs Patrick Campbell, some married and some not. He had a taste for actresses, and for other distinguished women. He refused to follow the way of the world and ‘substitute custom for conscience’, but some ...

Quashed Quotatoes

Michael Wood: Finnegans Wake

16 December 2010
Finnegans Wake 
by James Joyce, edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon.
Houyhnhnm, 493 pp., £250, March 2010, 978 0 9547710 1 0
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Joyce’s Disciples Disciplined 
edited by Tim Conley.
University College Dublin, 185 pp., £42.50, May 2010, 978 1 906359 46 1
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... encounter with a strange critical moment: a defence of a book none of the defenders had read except in scraps, since it was ten years away from being finished when Our Exagmination was published. PatrickMcCarthy crisply says, ‘As an introduction to Finnegans Wake, Our Exagmination has long been superseded by other studies, but as an introduction to “Work in Progress” it is still indispensable ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Sisters Brothers’

9 May 2019
... We learn that he is called the Commodore, and that ‘he does business in every part of the country,’ which is America in the 19th century. The movie’s first location is Oregon City, 1851. In Patrick DeWitt’s novel, on which the movie is based, the man offers a leaky vision of greatness that could be seen as an authoritarian rendering of Hauer’s Blade Runner memory: ‘A great man is one who ...

Shedding one’s sicknesses

Patrick​ Parrinder

20 November 1986
The Injured Party 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 241 11946 4
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Expensive Habits 
by Maureen Howard.
Viking, 268 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 670 81291 9
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... Village store is called Golden Oldies, and it is he who digs the pit that Margaret will eventually fall into. When interrupted by heart disease, Margaret has been trying to write a novel about the McCarthy years – but her life is too fragmented, and her heart isn’t in it. Like Iris Otway, she is suffering from writer’s block. Her answer is to write in fragments. The portrayal of the writing ...

Power-Seeker

Frank Kermode

12 October 1989
Bernard Shaw. Vol. II: The Pursuit of Power 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 422 pp., £18, September 1989, 0 7011 3350 3
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... real thing. It is touching, therefore, that Love, outlawed by his metabiological programmes, had its revenge, striking him down, with Murdochian violence, when he contemplated the attractions of Mrs Patrick Campbell. He had flirted with other actresses, but did not carry the pursuit to its end; with Stella, his first Liza, he committed himself, but this pursuit also failed and she slipped from his grasp ...
20 October 1994
Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... building site. Artists exist not in their writing, but in their being written about: the virtual reality that overwhelms its origin. We’ve finally (post-National Book Award) got around to Cormac McCarthy, whose first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1966, but we continue to ignore William Eastlake, who worked (Go in Beauty and Portrait of an Artist with 26 Horses) a parallel seam with ...

Was he? Had he?

Corey Robin: In the Name of Security

19 October 2006
The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government 
by David Johnson.
Chicago, 277 pp., £13, May 2006, 0 226 40190 1
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Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security 
by David Cole and James Dempsey.
New Press, 320 pp., £10.99, March 2006, 1 56584 939 6
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General Ashcroft: Attorney at War 
by Nancy Baker.
Kansas, 320 pp., £26.50, April 2006, 0 7006 1455 9
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State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration 
by James Risen.
Free Press, 240 pp., £18.99, January 2006, 0 7432 7578 0
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Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush 
by Eric Boehlert.
Free Press, 352 pp., $25, May 2006, 0 7432 8931 5
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... for suspected Communists. Charges of homosexuality ultimately accounted for a quarter to a half of all dismissals in the State and Commerce Departments, and in the CIA. Only 25 per cent of Joseph McCarthy’s fan letters complained of ‘red infiltration’; the rest fretted about ‘sex depravity’. The scare lasted from 1947 to the 1970s, and in The Lavender Scare David Johnson estimates that ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott

23 May 2019
White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... Janowitz (Slaves of New York), Jay and Bret were touted as the founding members of New York’s Literary Brat Pack, Manhattan’s bohemian answer to Hollywood’s Brat Pack (Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald – almost any actor who appeared in a John Hughes teen film qualified). The Literary Brat Pack was a journalistic readymade, roping together a number of ...

I don’t even get bananas

Madeleine Schwartz: Christina Stead

2 November 2017
The Man Who Loved Children 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 528 pp., £10, April 2016, 978 1 78497 148 9
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Letty Fox: Her Luck 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 592 pp., £14, May 2017, 978 1 78669 139 2
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... as Stead does in Letty Fox. Her personality probably did not help her reputation either. She ‘had a knack for arousing hostility’, according to her biographer Hazel Rowley. Rowley describes Patrick White inviting Stead to lunch. White had championed her in her old age, loudly praised her work and supported her with cash transfers masked as prizes. Stead, at this point a heavy drinker ...

Dead Not Deid

James Meek: A Great Radical Modernist

22 May 2008
Kieron Smith, Boy 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 422 pp., £18.99, April 2008, 978 0 241 14241 7
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... or because the man who wrote it was different, but because the character is different, almost an adult. Most other writers with a strongly distinctive prose style – Hemingway, Faulkner, Beckett, McCarthy – use it as a fabric on which to weave varied stories and characters. For sure, themes, settings, narrative strands and characters repeat and overlap, but the language, you feel, is there, within ...

No Crying in This House

Jackson Lears: The Kennedy Myth

7 November 2013
The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 
by David Nasaw.
Allen Lane, 896 pp., £12.35, September 2013, 978 0 14 312407 8
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Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 
by Barbara Perry.
Norton, 404 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 393 06895 5
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... power. The assumption that merely being a Kennedy elevated one above conventional moral constraints found its fulfilment in the presidency of Jack, but originated in the mind of his father. Joseph Patrick Kennedy was born in the Irish enclave of East Boston in 1888, the first child of Mary Augusta Hickey, the daughter of a successful builder, and Patrick Joseph Kennedy, a Democratic party official ...
1 August 1985
Diplomacy and Intelligence during the Second World War: Essays in Honour of F.H. Hinsley 
edited by Richard Langhorne.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £27.50, May 1985, 0 521 26840 0
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. I: 1939-Summer 1941, Vol. II: Mid-1941-Mid-1943, Vol. III, Part I: June 1943-June 1944 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 616 pp., £12.95, September 1979, 0 11 630933 4
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... ranks if one of its members came under suspicion, a conspiracy against the decent sort of England that Beaverbrook stood for, determined not to permit the cleansing transatlantic wind of the kind McCarthy unleashed in Washington to blow through the corridors of power? Had it not been for this conspiracy against honest journalists, the head of MI5, Hollis himself, would have been unmasked and the ...
30 March 2016
... release the prisoners on condition that they did not return to Ireland. Thus, in January 1871, O’Donovan Rossa arrived in New York; he was greeted as a hero.Among the friends he made in America was Patrick Ford, the editor of the Irish World, a newspaper with a circulation of 125,000. In 1876, Ford and O’Donovan Rossa set up what they called ‘a skirmishing fund’ to assist in the planning and ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich

9 August 2018
... of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed about the same feat as the two drunken men. In the early 1950s, the demagogue-brawler Senator Joe McCarthy pronounced the doom of New Deal bureaucrats and lawmakers to requite ‘twenty years of treason’. Today, Congressman Adam Schiff of California – a quiet, lucid, methodical prosecutor in command ...

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