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The World of School

John Bayley, 28 September 1989

The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... of burial, and the tour de force is also a sober labour of love. This Waugh has affiliations with Richard Boston’s Osbert Lancaster, the portrait of a connoisseur of social oddity who also loved it steadily and whole. Boston is discriminatingly informative about Lancaster’s achievement as artist and ...

Bypass Variegated

Rosemary Hill: Osbert Lancaster, 21 January 2016

Osbert Lancaster’s Cartoons, Columns and Curlicues: ‘Pillar to Post’, ‘Homes Sweet Homes’, ‘Drayneflete Revealed’ 
by Osbert Lancaster.
Pimpernel, 304 pp., £40, October 2015, 978 1 910258 37 8
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... politely inquired: ‘Do you wish to pass me on the left or on the right?’ The incident, which Richard Boston recounts in his biographical memoir of Lancaster, captures something essential about a man who, as a cartoonist and writer excelled in capturing types, human and architectural, yet himself remained hard to typify. Georgian (Town) Pillar ...

Seventeen Million Words

Richard Poirier, 7 November 1985

The Inman Diary: A Public and Private Confession 
edited by Daniel Aaron.
Harvard, 1661 pp., £35.95, March 1986, 0 674 45445 6
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... On 5 December 1963, the day Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, a man in Boston named Arthur Inman, having made several earlier attempts on his own life, managed to put a bullet through his head. A variety of chronic ailments and complaints had made him an invalid for nearly all of his 68 years, and except for brief excursions in his ancient chauffeur-driven Cadillac, he had since 1919 confined himself to an apartment building in downtown Boston named Garrison Hall ...

I am a false alarm

Robert Irwin: Khalil Gibran, 3 September 1998

Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet 
by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins.
One World, 372 pp., £18.99, August 1998, 1 85168 177 9
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Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran 
by Robin Waterfield.
Allen Lane, 366 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 7139 9209 3
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... father had been brought low by the intrigues of his enemies did the family emigrate to Boston. There, Gibran grew up to become a major artistic and political figure. In Paris he knew Debussy, while Rodin went so far as to acclaim him as ‘the Blake of the 20th century’. As it happened, Gibran could remember not only his previous reincarnation as ...

All he does is write his novel

Christian Lorentzen: Updike, 5 June 2014

Updike 
by Adam Begley.
Harper, 558 pp., £25, April 2014, 978 0 06 189645 3
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... feet, impulsive and urban’. Not so stimulating, if we’re to take Updike’s word, were Richard Maple and many of his cousins. With Mary and the four Updike children as his most generous sources, Begley is able to trace the degree of autobiography present in Updike’s fiction. It’s in many places very high. When Mary and John ...

Superficially Pally

Jenny Turner: Richard Sennett, 22 March 2012

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-Operation 
by Richard Sennett.
Allen Lane, 323 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 0 7139 9874 0
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... not written into any contract: self-respect, stability, social standing. Work is ‘a road’, as Richard Sennett once wrote, ‘to the unification of the self’. Except that it doesn’t usually end up like that, which is the reason the next page of the Guardian has Jeremy Bullmore, a sage and doleful-looking ‘agony uncle’, fielding people’s problems ...

The Nominee

Andrew O’Hagan: With the Democrats, 19 August 2004

... from what is now the Czech Republic, and whose grandson, John Kerry, returned to his native Boston this week to accept the Democratic nomination for president. Frederick Kerry made and lost three fortunes in America, but losing the last one had left him without a name: consequently, around lunchtime on 23 November 1921, he walked into the men’s room ...

St Malcolm Martyr

Michael Wood, 25 March 1993

Malcolm X 
directed by Spike Lee.
May 1993
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By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of ‘Malcolm X’ 
by Spike Lee and Ralph Wiley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 09 928531 2
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Malcolm X: The Great Photographs 
compiled by Thulani Davis and Howard Chapnick.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 168 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 1 55670 317 1
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... it is secretly abandoned. In the midst of all the appearances of fidelity to the way it was in Boston and Harlem (and Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm grew up, where the Klan hounded his family, where his father was killed), the film shifts us into dream time, its only location is a movie world. It bears the same sort of relation to the history of civil ...

They might be giants

Richard Fortey: Classical palaeontology, 2 November 2000

The First Fossil Hunters: Palaeontology in Greek and Roman Times 
by Adrienne Mayor.
Princeton, 361 pp., £22, May 2000, 0 691 05863 6
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... are rare. Mayor discusses a black and ochre painted vase in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which shows Herakles and Hesione confronting the Monster of Troy. The hero is shooting off a flight of arrows in the direction of a monster whose toothy visage seems to emerge from a cliff or pillar. It resembles a large fossil skull, and it’s hard to ...

Do It and Die

Richard Horton, 20 April 1995

Soundings 
by Abraham Verghese.
Phoenix, 347 pp., £18.99, May 1994, 1 897580 26 6
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... and chose infectious diseases as the easiest route to achieve his goal. He and Rajani moved to Boston, where the élite of US medicine fight among themselves for huge reputations and lucrative private practice. They endured a roach-infested apartment for a while but his ambitions waned in the face of slow and laborious laboratory research and he accepted ...

In Praise of Mess

Richard Poirier: Walt Whitman, 4 June 1998

With Walt Whitman in Camden. Vol. VIII: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891 
by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac.
Bentley, 624 pp., $99.50, November 1996, 0 9653415 8 5
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With Walt Whitman in Camden. Vol. IX: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891 
by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac.
Bentley, 624 pp., £99.50, November 1996, 0 9653415 9 3
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... this immortal ‘me’. Discussing a study of 1883 entitled Walt Whitman and written by his friend Richard Bucke, he insists to Traubel that his endorsement of the book was never meant to extend to its interpretations: as to his explication – no, no, no – that I do not accept – for Leaves of Grass baffles me, its author, at all points of its meaning ...

Too Fast

Thomas Powers: Malcolm X, 25 August 2011

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention 
by Manning Marable.
Allen Lane, 592 pp., £30, April 2011, 978 0 7139 9895 5
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... near the corner of 135th Street and Seventh Avenue. He had recently been fired as fourth cook on a Boston-to-Washington dining car, and had yet to learn to want anything more than a good time. On any morning that summer, Little might have brushed shoulders with the slender, watchful Ralph Ellison, passing through the Harlem YMCA, where Little roomed for a time ...

It is still mañana

Matthew Bevis: Robert Frost’s Letters, 19 February 2015

The Letters of Robert Frost, Vol. 1: 1886-1920 
edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson and Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 811 pp., £33.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 05760 9
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... San Francisco. Learn to whistle at five’ – before moving on to bigger things: ‘“North of Boston”. Address Great Poetry Meal. Decline. Later works. Doesn’t seem to die. Attempt to write “Crossing the Bar”. International copyright. Chief occupation (according to Who’s Who) pursuit of glory; most noticeable trait, patience in the pursuit of ...

Meltings

Nicholas Penny, 18 February 1988

Painting as an Art 
by Richard Wollheim.
Thames and Hudson, 384 pp., £28, November 1987, 0 500 23495 7
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... In the Preface to his new book Richard Wollheim tells how he ‘evolved a way of looking at paintings which was massively time-consuming and deeply rewarding’. He looked at them for a very long time – longer than us – and then they told him what they were all about. I came to recognise that it often took the first hour or so in front of a painting for stray associations or motivated misperceptions to settle down, and it was only then, with the same amount of time or more to spend looking at it, that the picture could be relied upon to disclose itself as it was ...

Paper or Plastic?

John Sutherland: Richard Powers, 10 August 2000

Gain 
by Richard Powers.
Heinemann, 355 pp., £15.99, March 2000, 0 434 00862 1
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... already the author of his major works. The Foundation nonetheless took a big punt on the genius of Richard Powers, who was awarded his MacArthur in 1989, aged only 32. I haven’t checked, but he is probably the youngest novelist ever to win a fellowship. Generally unknown in 1989, and temperamentally reticent, he has lately divulged something of his personal ...

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