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I’m not an actress

Michael Newton: Ava Gardner, 7 September 2006

Ava Gardner 
by Lee Server.
Bloomsbury, 551 pp., £20, April 2006, 0 7475 6547 3
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... always making icons of her: all those publicity stills and bathing-beauty snaps, a portrait by Man Ray for Pandora (1951), the ridiculously overblown statue for the graveside scene in The Barefoot Contessa (it ended up in Frank Sinatra’s garden until one of his later wives made him throw it out). Even though her appetites were decidedly her own and even ...

Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... The formative texts of his childhood and early youth were, inevitably, Pilgrim’s Progress and Robinson Crusoe, both of which he echoed in ‘To the Snipe’, a lyric whose isolated, islanded atmosphere and slough-like, ‘rude, desolate’ marshes build a distinctive form of Puritan anguish. Bate begins his third chapter with an account of the most ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... Is it a wish for genuine consultation with the business community, or just spinnery? Geoffrey Robinson presides, prompting reflections about the kind of businessmen who succeed, however improbably, in winning the trust of left-wing politicians. Who exploits who? When it’s David Lloyd George, he exploits them. But when it’s Harold Wilson? 2 December ...

That Wooden Leg

Michael Wood: Conversations with Don Luis, 7 September 2000

An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel 
translated by Garrett White.
California, 266 pp., £17.50, April 2000, 0 520 20840 4
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... his at the Mexican Cineteca and then drive over to his house. I would say, ‘I saw El today, or Robinson Crusoe,’ or whatever I had seen, and he would say: ‘Terrible film, the director should be shot.’ I would murmur in polite disagreement, and ask him a question about the work. One day I said I had very much liked a French film he had made in ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents, 5 January 2012

The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... and took refuge in the proto-bohemian set of wise-ass boys who drank espresso, watched Satyajit Ray films, and listened to recordings by Carlos Montoya and Dexter Gordon. She befriended closeted gays and other misfits, sharing their highbrow pretensions and their sense of marginality. Soon after she graduated, her father smelled another business opportunity ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... probably started the rot and then there was Glyn Daniel and his bow ties and today it’s Tony Robinson capering about professing huge excitement because of the uncovering of the (entirely predictable) foundations of a Benedictine priory at Coventry. His enthusiasm is anything but infectious and almost reconciles one to the bulldozer. And there’s always ...

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