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Happy Few

Patricia Beer, 23 May 1991

Told in Gath 
by Max Wright.
Blackstaff, 177 pp., £11.95, January 1991, 0 85640 449 7
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... of course been exploited by writers in all genres, but seldom with much credibility; the picture Peter Carey gives of them in Oscar and Lucinda, for example, is what might politely be called a travesty. Edmund Gosse is the nearest to an exception. In Father and Son he does not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, for though the book was not ...

How confident should she be?

Richard Lloyd Parry: Aung San Suu Kyi, 26 April 2012

The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi 
by Peter Popham.
Rider, 446 pp., £20, November 2011, 978 1 84604 248 5
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... initiated by Suu Kyi, and obediently agreed by the NLD executive, has been just as unexpected. Peter Popham’s life of Aung San Suu Kyi is gripping, partisan and emotional, a welcome complement to the only other serious biography in English, Justin Wintle’s assiduously comprehensive Perfect Hostage. It contains fascinating new material and ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... the last three years. Soloists with the chorus of praise have been distinguished and influential: Peter Porter, John Carey, John Bayley – and Raine himself has by no means been indisposed with laryngitis. His position in literary journalism and his access to the popularising media have played their part in his ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... a slasher – though there is a very severe notice of the autobiographies of Anthony Powell and Peter Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers ...

I had no imagination

Christian Lorentzen: Gerald Murnane, 4 April 2019

Tamarisk Row 
by Gerald Murnane.
And Other Stories, 281 pp., £10, February 2019, 978 1 911508 36 6
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Border Districts 
by Gerald Murnane.
And Other Stories, 144 pp., £8.99, January 2019, 978 1 911508 38 0
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... and Nabokov have also occupied his attention significantly. He seems to loathe Norman Mailer and Peter Carey.) There was a hiatus of 14 years between the stories in Emerald Blue (1995) and the publication of Barley Patch (2009), the first of four books Murnane classifies not as novels or stories but simply ‘fictions’. In these highly self-conscious ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley, 11 July 2002

Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... the critical thrust of Murray’s book. He opposes the ‘new orthodoxy’ expounded by John Carey in his 1992 polemic, The Intellectuals and the Masses. This biography aims to vindicate Huxley as a humane thinker and artist rather than the crypto-fascist, eugenicist, public-school snob, or (in later life) the ‘fully fledged, fuzzy-brained California ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray, 20 January 2000

Thackeray 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... And, one mutters, reviewers carp. For all this, Taylor has a critical parti pris. Like John Carey, whom he admires, he subscribes to the simplifying (and Ray-reversing) view that Thackeray is a one-book author. Or, as Carey brutally puts it: ‘Thackeray’s career as a leading novelist began and ended with Vanity ...

Bunnymooning

Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... This idea of Wolfenden as a wash-out and the squanderer of a prodigious talent persuaded John Carey, one of his Oxford contemporaries, to find him ‘the least interesting’ of Faulks’s subjects. Not only does Carey challenge Faulks’s claim that ‘in some minor way he represented a generation’: he suggests he ...

Putting Down the Rising

John Barrell, 22 February 1996

The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. I: The Shepherd’s Calendar 
edited by Douglas Mack.
Edinburgh, 287 pp., £29.50, July 1995, 9780748604746
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Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. II: The Three Perils of Woman 
edited by David Groves, Antony Hasler and Douglas Mack.
Edinburgh, 466 pp., £32.50, July 1995, 9780748604746
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Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. III: A Queer Book 
edited by P.D. Garside.
Edinburgh, 278 pp., £29.50, July 1995, 0 7486 0506 1
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... which has been reprinted in two editions since the war, with introductions by André Gide and John Carey. It is arguably Carey’s edition that has been chiefly responsible not only for the high reputation of the Memoirs and Confessions in England but also for the assumption that none of Hogg’s other fictions is worth ...

Clashes and Collaborations

Linda Colley, 18 July 1996

Empire: The British Imperial Experience, from 1765 to the Present 
by Denis Judd.
HarperCollins, 517 pp., £25, March 1996, 9780002552370
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Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire 
edited by P.J. Marshall.
Cambridge, 400 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 0 521 43211 1
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Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c.1500-c.1800 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 244 pp., £19.95, August 1995, 0 300 06415 2
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... their language, distorted how they looked at the world and at themselves. Yet, as both Judd and Peter Marshall demonstrate, neither Parliament nor the public ever gave Empire much conscious and sustained attention except when things were going hideously wrong and/or when they themselves were directly involved. Thus there were English colonies in America ...

Something an academic might experience

Michael Neve, 26 September 1991

The Faber Book of Madness 
edited by Roy Porter.
Faber, 572 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 14387 3
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... cool, all those dancing lessons, all culminating, two hundred years later, in nonsense like Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract, with all the while the bitter reality of the taxman, the press-gang, the whore, the rope, the dead child, the waste, the stolen apple. And all those books, about all those things. Madness. It’s a moot point as ...

God’s Gift to Australia

C.K. Stead, 24 September 1992

Woman of an Inner Sea 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 284 pp., £14.99, July 1992, 0 340 53148 7
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... to cremate themselves. This had enabled him to get the whole thing off tax.’ When I read Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda it seemed to me Carey had begun with an ambitious concluding image – the glass church floating down the Bellinger River – and worked backwards to contrive it. I have the same uneasy ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 1 June 2016

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... and proudly conventional writers and critics, such as Ruth Padel, Fiona Sampson, Andrew Motion and Peter McDonald, have found positive things to say. Last year Prynne received a Society of Authors award. The publication of the collected Poems in 1999, an ever fattening volume updated in 2005 and again last year, each time gathering in new collections and ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... helped establish the reputations of James Fenton and Craig Raine; poems by Heaney and Lowell; and Peter Porter’s ‘An Australian Garden’, which counts among his best things. Of the short stories, ‘Solid Geometry’ is a reminder that TNR played host to Ian McEwan when he was still regarded as a fairly nerve-wracking guest. But the essays are the chief ...

Do you think he didn’t know?

Stefan Collini: Kingsley Amis, 14 December 2006

The Life of Kingsley Amis 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 996 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 224 06227 1
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... as of his preferred social world is something of a deterrent in itself. Leader quotes from a John Carey review of Amis’s Memoirs (1991): ‘His prose style seems to exert masculinity at the expense of feeling.’ That still seems dead right, and not just about that book. More generally, one is left feeling that the drive of too much of his writing as well ...

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