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Paul​ and Penny

Julian Symons

25 October 1990
Paul ScottA Life 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hutchinson, 429 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 09 173984 5
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Paul Scott’s Raj 
by Robin Moore.
Heinemann, 246 pp., £18.50, October 1990, 0 434 47588 2
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... The managing director Peter Baker had left letters unanswered and telephone calls unreturned, and sure enough he was out. I saw instead a harassed long-nosed man in a blue suit who said his name was PaulScott, and that he was the company secretary. Things were in a bit of a muddle, but he would see what could be done. I can’t remember whether I ever got my money, but Scott had good reason to look ...
19 March 1987
... of the time, however seemingly different. Narrative can make fantasy out of stirring past events, or it can make pseudo-epic. Does J.G. Farrell take the Celtic line in The Siege of Krishnapur, and PaulScott follow a more plodding and literal Anglo-Saxon formula in the four-novel sequence of The Raj Quartet?There might be something in that. I suspect, for one thing, that those who cannot read ...

Booker Books

Frank Kermode

22 November 1979
... whole it is the moderate sellers, writers who are not exactly caviare to the general but have won the respect of professional critics, who are favoured: V.S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, David Storey, PaulScott, Iris Murdoch, for instance. Beyond that it isn’t easy to see much significance in the list – perhaps there’s a nostalgia for the old Empire (Scott, J.G. Farrell, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode

27 July 1989
The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... in this period is nothing more than ‘a profound unease’. It is here, approaching the end of his study, that Appleyard chooses, or is compelled, to make some independent valuations. Speaking of PaulScott, J.G. Farrell and V.S. Naipaul in relation to the death of Empire, he expresses a special enthusiasm for the last-named. Then come people for whom he has apparently no more than a cautious ...

Resistance to Torpor

Stephen Sedley: The Rule of Law

27 July 2016
Entick v. Carrington: 250 Years of the Rule of Law 
edited by Adam Tomkins and Paul Scott.
Hart, 276 pp., £55, September 2015, 978 1 84946 558 8
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... When​ the Earl of Bute resigned as prime minister in April 1763 it looked as if the North Briton, a paper whose vituperative attacks had dogged his administration, had achieved its ambition and would now cease publication. But a week later George III opened the new Parliament with a speech from the throne which, by its support for the peace terms being negotiated with France, reignited the wrath ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell

2 December 2010
J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... of his work into sharper focus without unduly cleaning up its oddness and irony. James Gordon Farrell – Jim to his friends – turns out to have had more in common with J.G. Ballard than with PaulScott, George MacDonald Fraser, M.M. Kaye and other writers of 1970s bestsellers with imperial themes. Like the empty swimming-pools and weed-choked concrete landscapes that appear again and again in JGB ...

Licence to kill

Paul​ Foot

10 February 1994
Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul​ Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... for arms to Saudi Arabia and Jordan were being forged to disguise the arms’ real destination: Iraq. Machon is an important witness, but only a small cog in the conspiracy, which, as the Scott Inquiry hearings are beginning tentatively to reveal, was just as ‘wide-ranging’ and ‘sophisticated’ as the US operation from which it took its lead. Saddam sought to build up his links with ...

The Aestheticising Vice

Paul​ Seabright: Systematic knowledge

27 May 1999
Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 464 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 300 07016 0
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... mode we simply deny that systematic textbook reasoning can make headway against whimsy and serendipity. Apart from anything else, it is deeply unfair that it should. In Seeing like a State, James Scott is definitely in storytelling mode, though he seems unaware of the narrative biases that result. (It makes me curious to know what he’s like when he travels by air, which as an anthropologist he ...

Fairyland

Bruce Bawer

2 May 1985
Invented Lives: F. Scott​ and Zelda Fitzgerald 
by James Mellow.
Souvenir, 569 pp., £15.95, February 1985, 0 285 65001 7
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Home before Dark: A Personal Memoir of John Cheever 
by Susan Cheever.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £10.95, January 1985, 0 297 78376 9
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... Scott Fitzgerald – who was renowned in his lifetime as much for his escapades with Zelda as for his contribution to literature – would doubtless be gratified to know how profoundly most literate ...

Booze and Fags

Christopher Hitchens

12 March 1992
Tobacco: A History 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Radius, 249 pp., £18.99, December 1991, 0 09 174216 1
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The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 554 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 571 16229 0
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... Oscar Wilde understood so well when he described it as an occupation. Kiernan thrills to his own description of Greta Garbo blowing out a match in The Flesh and the Devil, and vibrates as he recalls Paul Henreid taking a smoke from his own lips and passing it to Bette Davis (Now, Voyager). With approval, he cites the mass meeting of young women at Teheran University; every pouting lip framing a ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: On Meeting the Creatives

22 February 1996
... and dedicated in his practice that there is not the slightest chance of his falling. Given his anger, I do not ask the subsidiary question about why then he doesn’t just walk on the ground. PaulScott Makela galvanises and alarms the audience on the final morning with a viewing of the video he designed for Michael Jackson’s ‘Scream’, the song Jackson released after the child abuse ...
18 April 1996
Scott​ Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... The most remarkable aspect of the Scott Report is its simplicity. The famous length and the differing interpretations to which it has been subjected since its publication suggest a learned and complex treatise full of ambiguity and complex ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones

8 November 2018
... sort of Kindle-in-waiting. And in the 1960s anyone who studied ancient Greek for A-level, as I did (the language of Callimachus, after all), was expected to buy a very big book indeed: Liddell and Scott’s monumental lexicon, big enough to afford the linguistic granularity you need to write Greek prose in the style of Demosthenes’ orations, with citations to corroborate every word used. A ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers

6 March 2008
... stop in Newcastle, people stood with damp hair and stared into space. The buses going east in the direction of Heaton were half full in the morning and nobody spoke. When I arrived at the house of Paul Wakefield I immediately saw a picture of his handsome younger brother on the coffee table. ‘He was my bodyguard,’ Paul said. ‘He was always quite tough, but brave. He was my hero and he always ...

Per Ardua

Paul​ Foot

8 February 1996
In the Public Interest 
by Gerald James.
Little, Brown, 339 pp., £18.99, December 1995, 0 316 87719 0
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... passed to all sorts of journalists, ceaselessly, tirelessly and never in return for money, contributed as much as any other single factor to the sense of public outrage which led eventually to the Scott inquiry. The astonishing nature of that inquiry, too – above all its access to information which has traditionally been kept secret – owes not a little to his persistence. The Scott Report will ...

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