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Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother

3 January 2013
The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... of his sexual prospects. His knowledge of sexual matters in general may not have been great: as he admits in the fragmentary memoir called ‘Sex’, written in the Locked Diary but sadly excluded by PhilipGardner, ‘My instinct has never given me true information about sex’; ‘not till I was 30 did I know exactly how male and female joined’ – that is to say, when he was writing Howards End ...

Imbued … with Exigence

Christopher Tayler: Rachel Cusk

22 September 2005
In the Fold 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, September 2005, 0 571 22813 5
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... and writers. ‘Generally the greatest writers have written about what they’ve seen around them, about – in the parlance of creative writing schools – what they “know”.’ She quotes John Gardner saying that ‘great writers tell the truth exactly – and get it right.’ But, she says, ‘for the modern British – more to the point, English – novelist, this notion of truth is a little ...

Sexual Tories

Angus Calder

17 May 1984
The Common People: A History from the Norman Conquest to the Present 
by J.F.C. Harrison.
Croom Helm and Flamingo, 445 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7099 0125 9
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British Society 1914-45 
by John Stevenson.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 503 pp., £16.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1390 8
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The World We Left Behind: A Chronicle of the Year 1939 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £11.95, April 1984, 0 297 78287 8
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Wigan Pier Revisited: Poverty and Politics in the Eighties 
by Beatrix Campbell.
Virago, 272 pp., £4.50, April 1984, 0 86068 417 2
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... and hope.’ To some impatiently radical readers that might seem old-fashioned: but what will they make of Harrison’s subversive, utterly anti-Whiggish suggestion, drawing on recent research by Dr PhilipGardner, that the working-class private-venture schools of the mid-19th century, the notorious ‘dame schools’ denounced by middle-class reformers, were better institutions (if we take the common ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy

4 March 1999
Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... from newspapers of the day. Stallworthy has always been well-connected. As a youngster, he became friends with Geoffrey Keynes. In Oxford, and although he came down with a mere Second, Helen Gardner urged him to do a B.Litt. and write a dissertation on Yeats’s manuscripts. Stallworthy had no interest in writing a dissertation; he stayed on for a fourth year in Oxford only to try for a Blue ...
1 May 1980
Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... and decisive. Fenway Court, the patrician fantasy of a Renaissance palazzo in darkest Boston, is as much an expression of his taste and enthusiasm as of those of its doyenne, Isabella Stewart Gardner. He was not exaggerating when he told his 50th Harvard class reunion that most of the Italian pictures of any merit that had come to America between 1895 and 1940 had had his ‘visa stamped on their ...
19 May 2011
Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... period. After A bout de souffle, I went to all the NFT’s regular retrospectives of Hollywood film noir, so I came to Bogart (as to Cagney, Raft, Edward G., Stanwyck, Hayworth, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Gloria Grahame) retrospectively and as a ready-made – I think I need to use the word – icon. They were vast beings moving across the screen, on prints patinated with the time that had passed ...

Post-Paranoid

Michael Wood: Underworld by Don Delillo

5 February 1998
Underworld 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 832 pp., £10, February 1998, 0 330 36995 4
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... bomb. Old jokes, like the one about Speedy Gonzalez, are glimpsed in moments of their early life, and Life magazine not only brings Bruegel into the scene, it shows a picture of Sinatra with Ava Gardner. All this stuff has fallen indelibly into the past, but DeLillo retrieves it by the sheer energy and movement of his prose, and his shifts of angle, and by threading into the story of the game – ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... petition for freedom of expression an impressive range of talents: Lucille Ball, Eddie Cantor, Kirk Douglas, Melvyn Douglas, Deanna Durbin, Melvyn Frank, Daniel Fuchs, Henry Fonda, John Garfield, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Henry Hathaway, Van Heflin, Fritz Lang, Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, Burgess Meredith, Groucho Marx, Vincente Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Robert Ryan, Edward G. Robinson ...

‘Disgusting’

Frank Kermode: Remembering William Empson

16 November 2006
William Empson. Vol. II: Against the Christians 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 797 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 19 927660 9
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... the great enemy of human decency. It was unwise to disagree with him unless prepared for a long, often jeering response. Only a few answered the insults in kind: Empson’s correspondence with Philip Hobsbaum, who was his pupil but disagreed with some of the basic tenets, is full of rude words and anger on both sides. In this case the insults were part of what Empson called ‘my long attempt to ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary

13 September 2018
The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... whose company she liked: ‘They wanted it so much, poor things.’ After splitting from McKelway, Brennan moved from hotel to hotel. She was ‘like the Big Blonde in the Dorothy Parker story’, Gardner Botsford wrote: she could ‘transport her entire household, all her possessions, and her cats – in a taxi’. Searching for an area in which to ‘settle down’, she tried Hudson Street, 22nd ...

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