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Enfield was nothing

P.N. Furbank: Norman Lewis, 18 December 2003

The Tomb in Seville 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 150 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 224 07120 3
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... personal adventures and escapes’ – the very things which, for good or evil, Evelyn Waugh and Peter Fleming and Robert Byron, not to mention Redmond O’Hanlon, assume to be the heart of travel writing. This leads us to the reflection that travel writing, or anyway the best sort, only pretends to be informative. The author, out of self-respect, and by ...

Complete with spats

A.N. Wilson, 27 May 1993

Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul 
by Barbara Reynolds.
Hodder, 398 pp., £25, March 1993, 0 340 58151 4
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... knowledge of, and evident affection for, Sayers’s fiction – the detective stories about Lord Peter Wimsey especially. And now, she comes forward with what will surely rank as the definitive biography of Sayers. It is not a book which contains any surprises for those of us who have read the previous biographies. Indeed, Dr Reynolds gives us rather ...

Don’t do it!

Wendy Doniger: Dick Francis, 15 October 1998

Field of 13 
by Dick Francis.
Joseph, 273 pp., £16.99, September 1998, 0 7181 4351 5
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... personality of the hero in the manner of other series of mystery novels – Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Miss Marple, Travis McGee et al. The Francis pattern is more like an obsession: the hero suffers great physical pain and humiliation at the hands of a villain who is often so well liked, powerful and respected that no one but the hero can believe in ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach, 25 June 1987

Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... subject of increasing critical interest. In her lifetime she was praised by H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Louise Bogan, but Edmund Wilson said that One of Ours,* her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was a complete failure and that My Antonia ended on the level of a Ladies Home Journal serial. Lionel Trilling called The Professor’s House ‘lame’ and Ernest ...

It’s good to be alive

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Science does ethics, 9 February 2012

Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition and Complexity Are Revolutionising Our View of Human Nature 
by Douglas Kenrick.
Basic, 238 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 0 465 02044 7
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Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values 
by Sam Harris.
Bantam, 291 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 593 06486 3
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The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice 
by Peter Corning.
Chicago, 237 pp., $27.50, April 2011, 978 0 226 11627 3
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... propositions – so seriously that he’s worried about the implication for civil liberties. Peter Corning’s argument in The Fair Society is similar to Kenrick’s: the ‘underlying purpose and vocation of human nature’ is ‘at bottom a contingent survival enterprise’. He uses a grab-bag of recent scientific findings – a little ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... or just after the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... contribution is ‘to argue for the stylistic influence of the early Vorticist prose of Wyndham Lewis on key texts of Joyce, Pound and Eliot and to reaffirm Lewis’s important role within the Modernist venture’. However, his study of these texts has led him to the ‘distinctly unconventional hypothesis’ that they ...

Seven Poems

Hugo Williams, 31 July 1997

... Trivia It might have been the word for sulking in animals, Juliette Lewis, Joan of Arc, the smell of television lingering in the morning like a quarrel. It might have been an airedale scratching at your door, papier-mâché heads, a cloud no bigger than ... It might have been blue satin, Peter Stuyvesant Gold, Deep Heat, umbrella pines, familiar two-note calls repeated at intervals, a lifeguard’s upraised hand ...
Ngaio Marsh: A Life 
by Margaret Lewis.
Chatto, 276 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 7011 3389 9
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... Marsh reigns supreme for excellence of style and characterisation,’ writes Margaret Lewis in her introduction. The proposition could be contested; it could be maintained that Christie is more ingenious, Allingham more lively and Sayers has more intellectual weight. But Margaret Lewis’s problem as a ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: David Wilkie, 31 October 2002

... studies in Rembrandt-like shorthand and even Oriental studies which probably owe something to J.F. Lewis (Wilkie met him on his travels). How far this elusive personality had to do with being Scottish is a matter for debate. His genre paintings, after he came to London, are not strongly Scottish in their detail (as a Lowlander he was unhappy that the kilt and ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: American Prints, 8 May 2008

... the pressure-dependent thicks and thins of a pen-drawn line. Drypoints of night scenes by Martin Lewis exploit the uniquely dense blacks that etching can achieve. (In a number of them a dark ground was produced by first running the plate through the press with a sheet of sandpaper.) These are striking, if conventional, images that stand in a line you can ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: ‘Watercolour’, 3 March 2011

... as the campanile that reaches up into it, and Burne-Jones’s The Merciful Knight. John Frederick Lewis, who spent ten years in Cairo amassing drawings of Oriental life, came home and turned them into images like Hhareem Life, Constantinople, in which the detail is abundant and accurate but the atmosphere suburban English. In the end he gave up ...

Dwarf-Basher

Michael Dobson, 8 June 1995

Edmond Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography 
by Peter Martin.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 46030 1
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... whose glinting eyes, in Reynolds’s 1778 portrait, stare fixedly past us from the dust-jacket of Peter Martin’s biography. Indeed the book’s steady prose, for all its professions of admiration, does little to suggest that Martin (the first writer to undertake a life of Malone since 1860) has managed to muster much of the personal empathy and enthusiasm ...

Bloody Horse

Samuel Hynes, 1 December 1983

Roy Campbell: A Critical Biography 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 277 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 19 211750 5
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The Selected Poems of Roy Campbell 
edited by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 131 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 9780192119469
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... Campbell resembled two other, more important contemporaries, D.H. Lawrence and Wyndham Lewis. And like them at their least controlled, he demonstrated in his life and work two basic points: that energy alone, taken as a human value, leads to something very like fascism; and that paranoia is fatal to even the most gifted artist (nothing is so boring ...

Dark Knight

Tom Shippey, 24 February 1994

The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory 
by P.J.C. Field.
Boydell and Brewer, 218 pp., £29.50, September 1993, 0 85991 385 6
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... Darthur itself, Caxton’s ‘noble and joyous hystorye’, and its presumptive author, in C.S. Lewis’s phrase, ‘little better than a criminal’. Actually, Lewis much understated the case. If one goes by the records, slowly unearthed in the Twenties and Thirties by Edward Cobb, Edward Hicks and A.C. Baugh, the Malory ...

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