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Pity the monsters

Richard Altick, 18 December 1980

The Elephant Man 
by Bernard Pomerance.
Faber, 71 pp., £2.25, June 1980, 0 571 11569 1
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The Elephant Man: the Book of the Film 
by Joy Kuhn.
Virgin, 90 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 9780907080091
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The Elephant Man 
by Christine Sparks.
Futura, 272 pp., £1.25, August 1980, 0 7088 1942 7
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The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences 
by Frederick Treves.
Star, 126 pp., £95, August 1980, 0 352 30747 1
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The Elephant Man and Other Freaks 
by Sian Richards.
Futura, 197 pp., £1.25, October 1980, 0 7088 1927 3
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The True History of the Elephant Man 
by Michael Howell and Peter Ford.
Allison and Busby, 190 pp., £6.95, March 1980, 0 85031 353 8
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... short stories from which equally mediocre horror films have been made; and Michael Howell and Peter Ford’s The True History of the Elephant Man. The best of the lot is the last, a well-researched and level-headed biography that tells us considerably more about Joseph Merrick than we knew before. For example: Treves recorded that he carried about ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘3.10 to Yuma’, 1957 & 2007 , 18 October 2007

3.10 to Yuma 
directed by James Mangold.
September 2007
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3.10 to Yuma 
directed by Delmer Daves.
August 1957
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... and a lot more people die. There’s plenty of blood to look at, and a longer glimpse of Peter Fonda’s entrails than most people will be eager to have (he’s a bounty hunter who’s been shot during the robbery of a coach). In the fantasy style required of current cinema, his body, open entrails notwithstanding, shows no sign of human ...

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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... no longer offer them maps in which the Empire is coloured red. Penguin Books’ reissue of Boris Ford’s Pelican Guide to English Literature, which first appeared a quarter of a century ago as an alternative version to ‘authorised’ literary history, is a reminder that not much happens that is new in academic warfare. Boris ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 5 May 2005

... Doctor’s last four incarnations (in reverse order: Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison), though obviously no match for Tom Baker – at the controls of a souped-up Tardis. As I write, he’s at the mercy of a gang of obese aliens who’ve long been lurking behind the scenes at Downing St, and for complicated reasons have just staged ...

Modern Masters

Frank Kermode, 24 May 1990

Where I fell to Earth: A Life in Four Places 
by Peter Conrad.
Chatto, 252 pp., £16, February 1990, 0 7011 3490 9
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May Week was in June 
by Clive James.
Cape, 249 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 224 02787 5
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... are exotic industry, autobiographical fluency and, to adapt what somebody once said about Ford Madox Ford, a desire to write well so strong that it shows. According to his own listing, this is James’s 24th book. So at 50, despite his relatively inauspicious start and his obvious determination to obey the ...

In Soho

Peter Campbell: Richard Rogers Partnership, 24 May 2001

... building, and although it’s been reported that the tenants will be the design studio of the Ford Motor Company, the client was a property developer – Derwent Valley Holdings. One can imagine design decisions being made on the basis of picking and mixing from a catalogue. The curved roof (‘the predominant architectural signature’) is an echo of the ...

Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... I see it, and now that I’m in the joke very funny it is too. But it increases my doubts about Peter Wollen’s piece on Tina Modotti and Frida Kahlo, which is part of, which in fact comprises, that section of the anthology labelled ‘Women, Mexico, Revolution, Art’. Frida and Tina are, allegedly, revolutionary Mexican artistic women, linked also by ...

Super-Real

Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... is something rather dogged about some aspects of the Pre-Raphaelite work ethic. In April 1855, Ford Madox Brown wrote in his diary about the drawing for Work: ‘This is now to me a species of intoxication,’ he exclaims. ‘When I drew in the poor little vixen girl pulling her brother’s hair, I quite growled with delight.’ This entry is interesting ...

Whinny Moor

Blake Morrison, 2 April 1987

... and original sources, to land on the fell road under Pinhaw beside the steamed-up hatchback of a Ford. The driver’s window opened as I stood there. ‘Tha’ll catch thi death – get in an warm thisen’ said the heathery face, open, bloodshot, leaning across to unlock the other door. I limped around and took my seat beside him, cupping my bones about ...

All Woman

Michael Mason, 23 May 1985

‘Men’: A Documentary 
by Anna Ford.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 297 78468 4
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Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure 
by John Cleland, edited by Peter Sabor.
Oxford, 256 pp., £1.95, February 1985, 0 19 281634 9
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... One may ask of Ms Ford’s book, rather as Alice asks of the White Knight’s poem: ‘What is it called?’ The title on the jacket is ‘Men’; the title on the title-page is Men. The jacket is the part of a book where publishers most candidly make known their views. Publishing contracts specifically reserve to the publisher the right to determine its appearance, unilaterally if necessary ...

Anglicana

Peter Campbell, 31 August 1989

A Particular Place 
by Mary Hocking.
Chatto, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 7011 3454 2
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The House of Fear, Notes from Down Below 
by Leonora Carrington.
Virago, 216 pp., £10.99, July 1989, 1 85381 048 7
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Painted Lives 
by Max Egremont.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 241 12706 8
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The Ultimate Good Luck 
by Richard Ford.
Collins Harvill, 201 pp., £11.95, July 1989, 0 00 271853 7
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... only in such mean backstreets, or in a war or wilderness, can a man become a macho hero. Richard Ford’s Harry Quinn has come to the Mexican city of Oaxaca to buy his ex-lover Rae’s brother Sonny out of jail. Sonny has been found in a hotel room with a lot of cocaine. The dealer he was running for believes Sonny was double-crossing him. The moves in the ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... paintings … No one nowadays is skilful or laborious enough to forge a Meissonier or a Ford Madox Brown that would deceive even a professional expert.’ He was wrong about the skill: look at the Giunti Botticelli, which could have been on the easel when he wrote. But slight sketches, if you can get into your painter’s way of making marks, and ...

Dad & Jr

Christian Lorentzen: Bushes Jr & Sr, 4 December 2014

... of low expectations’. ‘Bush’s conversational storytelling makes for engaging reading,’ Peter Baker writes in the New York Times. ‘It’s folksy, sharply observed and surprisingly affecting,’ Michiko Kakutani says in the same paper. ‘A helluva good read,’ Douglas Brinkley writes in the Financial Times. ‘Bush Jr’s new memoir doesn’t ...

Verbing a noun

Patrick Parrinder, 17 March 1988

Out of this World 
by Graham Swift.
Viking, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 670 82084 9
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Three Farmers on their Way to a Dance 
by Richard Powers.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 297 79273 3
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The March Fence 
by Matthew Yorke.
Viking, 233 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 670 81848 8
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What is the matter with Mary Jane? 
by Daisy Waugh.
Heinemann, 182 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 0 434 84390 3
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... photograph, one of which is found by the narrator, and the other by a computer journalist called Peter Mays, who discovers it in Chicago among some family heirlooms. In a novel full of intellectual, descriptive and stylistic diversions, these two figures take us down some remarkable by-roads. The three farmers are somehow linked with the ‘Peace Ship’ in ...

In Fiery Letters

Mark Ford: F.T. Prince, 8 February 2018

Reading F.T. Prince 
by Will May.
Liverpool, 256 pp., £75, December 2016, 978 1 78138 333 9
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... his excellent introduction to the poem, published for the first time in 2015 by the Perdika Press, Peter Robinson suggests that to issue such a piece in the homophobic 1950s might well have proved ‘controversial’. The homoerotic charge Ashbery detected in Prince’s early poems is often what makes their Yeatsian rhetoric suddenly catch fire, driving the ...

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