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A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson

7 March 2013
A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... made no sense in the short term. Crucially they were ordered to leave the countryside and show their mettle in the towns, where they could prepare for government once the Red Army had come through. PeterConradi handles this material extremely well, and draws on E.P. Thompson’s lectures in Stanford in 1981 about his brother, later collated by his widow, Dorothy Thompson, as Beyond the Frontier. E.P ...

With A, then B, then C

Susan Eilenberg: The Sexual Life of Iris M.

5 September 2002
Iris Murdoch: A Life 
by Peter Conradi.
HarperCollins, 706 pp., £9.99, August 2002, 9780006531753
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... She began a third. Although it is by no means always the case with Alzheimer’s that illness uncovers truth, it seems both to Murdoch’s husband, John Bayley (‘Puss’), and to her biographer, PeterConradi, that it did so here. In their view Murdoch’s advancing illness, crumbling away language and reason, laid bare in her an essential impulse toward love. As words broke up, it was the ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler

2 September 1982
The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... The scheme of cultural history he often draws on may not be very impressive – it is a kind of Romantic primitivism he shares with Burke, Coleridge, Cobbett and Dickens, the wish of Barrie’s Peter Pan that our lives could be simple and protected, like children’s, and that society had never had to grow up. But Leavis is genuinely powerful on morals, on relationships, especially domestic ones ...

Eat Your Spinach

Tony Wood: Russia and the West

2 March 2017
Return to Cold War 
by Robert Legvold.
Polity, 208 pp., £14.99, February 2016, 978 1 5095 0189 2
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Should We Fear Russia? 
by Dmitri Trenin.
Polity, 144 pp., £9.99, November 2016, 978 1 5095 1091 7
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Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War 
by Peter Conradi.
Oneworld, 384 pp., £18.99, February 2017, 978 1 78607 041 8
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... this narrative, the rise of Putin meant a reversal of all these trends, resulting in a steady reassertion of Russian power after 2000 that fuelled a series of ugly confrontations. In Who Lost Russia? PeterConradi attempts a more balanced view, providing a brisk run-through of the post-Cold War era in which both Russia and the West are faulted for a string of misguided moves. A correspondent in Moscow ...

I Will Tell You Everything

Rosemary Hill: Iris Murdoch

22 April 2010
Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War – Letters and Diaries 1939-45 
edited by Peter Conradi.
Short Books, 303 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 1 906021 22 1
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With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch 
by David Morgan.
Kingston, 143 pp., £13.99, March 2010, 978 1 899999 42 2
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... Iris: A Memoir, was published when she was in the later stages of dementia, an undignified, soul-stripping illness whose details Bayley did not spare. After her death in 1999 things sped up. PeterConradi’s portly authorised biography was smartly challenged by A.N. Wilson’s slimmer unauthorised memoir, Iris Murdoch as I Knew Her, a witty, affectionate, impious account which made disturbing ...

I am a severed head

Colin Burrow: Iris Murdoch’s Incompatibilities

10 August 2016
‘The Sea, the Sea’; ‘A Severed Head’ 
by Iris Murdoch.
Everyman, 680 pp., £14.99, March 2016, 978 1 84159 370 8
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... has a style. It also presents critics with an easy opportunity to be unfair rather than to think. And being fair to Murdoch is quite hard at the moment. She has received a sympathetic biography by PeterConradi, which may be too kind to her, and a sour memoir by A.N. Wilson from which even the concept of kindness appears to be absent. What with John Bayley’s Iris and the film of it, and all the ...

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