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Beyond Everyday Life

Julian Symons, 5 March 1981

The Blaze of Noon 
by Rayner Heppenstall.
Allison and Busby, 166 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 0 85031 288 4
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... Some time late in 1939, around the time World War Two began, I met Rayner Heppenstall in the street, and we went to a pub, no doubt to exchange gloomy views about our likely futures. His first novel would be coming out soon. ‘It might sell a few copies in the rubber shops,’ he said. The book was The Blaze of Noon ...

A New Verismo

John Bayley, 8 January 1987

The Master Eccentric: The Journals of Rayner Heppenstall 1969-1981 
edited by Jonathan Goodman.
Allison and Busby, 278 pp., £14.95, December 1986, 0 85031 536 0
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The Pier 
by Rayner Heppenstall.
Allison and Busby, 192 pp., £9.95, December 1986, 9780850314502
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... easy to reply: it all depends upon your personality, but that would be misleading. The reader of Rayner Heppenstall, for instance, is, I think, not in the least interested in his personality as such, but in how it translates itself into actions – very small daily actions. A writer like Heppenstall is not a ...

Access to the Shining Prince

Hide Ishiguro, 21 May 1981

The Tale of Genji 
by Murasaki Shikibu, translated by Edward Seidensticker.
Penguin, 1090 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 14 044390 8
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... Some twenty years ago, not long after I came to England, I heard a talk by Rayner Heppenstall asserting that English and French were the only two cultures which had a continuous literary tradition from medieval times. Sceptical as I was about his claim, even in the European context, I was taken aback by the lack of curiosity which it demonstrated ...

Third World

Frank Kermode, 2 March 1989

... play All That Fall. Equally important, and more autonomous, was ‘Features’. We learn that Rayner Heppenstall as a Features producer could call Angus Wilson, Henry Reed, Laurie Lee and Muriel Spark ‘exclusively mine’, and there were staff stars like Louis MacNeice and W.R. Rodgers (stars at the bar of the George as well as in Broadcasting ...


Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... Brigid Brophy, Anthony Burgess, Alan Burns, Angela Carter, Eva Figes, Giles Gordon, Wilson Harris, Rayner Heppenstall, even hasty, muddled Robert Nye, Ann Quin, Penelope Shuttle, Alan Sillitoe (for his last book only. Raw Material indeed), Stefan Themerson, and (coming) John Wheway (stand by): and if only Heathcote Williams would write a novel’. In 1968 ...

Other Selves

John Bayley, 29 October 1987

How I Grew 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 297 79170 2
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Myself and Michael Innes 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 575 04104 8
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... Memories, take the form of anecdotes that might have been – a little dramatic sketch for Rayner Heppenstall and the Third Programme, for instance, which featured Henry James being driven in Turn of the Screw country in Edith Wharton’s car, and catching sight of the notice MOTORISTS! BEWARE OF THE CHILDREN. Nice to feel that a past could ...

Earthworm on Zither

Paul Grimstad: Raymond Roussel, 26 April 2012

Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey, 280 pp., £10.99, June 2011, 978 1 56478 624 1
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New Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Ford.
Princeton, 264 pp., £16.95, April 2011, 978 0 691 14459 7
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... rock-bottom prices’. His translation is a welcome alternative to the cumbersome 1967 version by Rayner Heppenstall and Lindy Foord (the only other English Impressions are extracts, among them Ashbery’s fine 1962 translation of its first chapter). And he rightly points out that in this novel about European tourists stranded in Africa, Roussel ...

Going on the air

Philip French, 2 May 1985

Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... not seize on is an odd line in a famous letter he quotes, written in 1943 by Orwell to his friend Rayner Heppenstall. Its significance only struck me when rereading it in the context of this book. In a splendid 1942 talk dug up by West, Orwell expatiates on austerity, sport and the British spirit, remarking: ‘For nearly two years no one has seen a ...

Burlington Bertie

Julian Symons, 14 June 1990

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 364 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 297 81042 1
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... Connolly, ‘aggressive’ Lewis, ‘perennially acerbic’ Douglas Cooper, ‘self-righteous’ Rayner Heppenstall, and so on. It was the need to make a living that pushed Read’s interests towards visual art. In 1919 he married Evelyn Roff, whom he had met when they were students at Leeds. Working first at the Ministry of Labour and then the ...

Eric the Nerd

Ian Hamilton: The Utterly Complete Orwell, 29 October 1998

The Complete Works of George Orwell 
edited by Peter Davidson.
Secker, £750, July 1998, 0 436 20377 4
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... and most have water and a little cultivable land, and goats will live on them. According to R.H. [Rayner Heppenstall], a woman who rented an island in the Hebrides in order to avoid air raids was the first air-raid casualty of the war, the RAF dropping a bomb there by mistake. Good if true. There are few personal revelations in these 20 volumes. We are ...

The Essential Orwell

Frank Kermode, 22 January 1981

George Orwell: A Life 
by Bernard Crick.
Secker, 473 pp., £10, November 1980, 9780436114502
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Class, Culture and Social Change: A New View of the 1930s 
edited by Frank Gloversmith.
Harvester, 285 pp., £20, July 1980, 0 85527 938 9
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Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties 
edited by Jon Clark, Margot Heinemann, David Margolies and Carole Snee.
Lawrence and Wishart, 279 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 0 85315 419 8
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... in his life. We read of him lashing out at tiresome Burmese students with a heavy cane; attacking Rayner Heppenstall; killing an adder with sadistic deliberation. He once wrote of a wasp that was eating the jam on his plate. He cut it in half with his knife, and watched it continuing to eat jam, which squirted out of the back end: flying off, it had a ...

The Unpronounceable

Adam Mars-Jones: Garth Greenwell, 21 April 2016

What Belongs to You 
by Garth Greenwell.
Picador, 194 pp., £12.99, April 2016, 978 1 4472 8051 4
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... set of strategies available to writers, even if it doesn’t formally go by that name. When Rayner Heppenstall published Four Absentees, his version of an autobiography, for instance, he chose not to recount his life directly but to project a diffused self-portrait onto four well-known cultural figures who had been his friends (Dylan Thomas, George ...

Champion of Words

John Sturrock, 15 October 1987

Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Charles Ruas.
Athlone, 186 pp., £29.50, April 1987, 0 485 11336 8
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Raymond Roussel: Life, Death and Works. Essays and stories by various hands 
Atlas, 157 pp., £5.50, September 1987, 0 947757 14 7Show More
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... that, in the early Sixties, Roussel was taken notice of for the first time in this country, when Rayner Heppenstall, together with his daughter, translated his major works into English and published a short study of him. That modest volume served Roussel’s cause far better than will the present translation of Foucault’s dispiritingly portentous ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... Dillon, Cleverdon and Bridson, and new ones like W. R. Rodgers, Terence Tiller, R. D. Smith and Rayner Heppenstall. MacNeice was henceforth one of a group of literary men whose social life revolved around certain pubs in Soho, Fitzrovia or the immediate environs of Broadcasting House. Dylan Thomas was much in use as an actor and a voice as well as a ...

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