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Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 November 1982

Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 28849 4
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... several different versions of Mosley’s political career. Fellow politicians, Michael Foot and Richard Crossman among them, took the view that, like themselves, he was interested in power but that, unlike them, unlike Foot and Crossman at any rate, he was too impatient to wait his turn. For Skidelsky, though there are signs that he may now repent ...

What a Mother

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Marianne Moore and Her Mother, 3 December 2015

Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore 
by Linda Leavell.
Farrar, Straus, 455 pp., $18, September 2014, 978 0 374 53494 3
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... of Poetry, accepted five poems; in April 1915 two of her poems appeared in the Egoist, the paper Richard Aldington edited (‘I am so delighted to have them take me I shouldn’t mind if they charged me’); in August, HD invited her to come to London (she didn’t take up the invitation); and in October Alfred Kreymborg, the editor of Others, took five ...

Can there be such a thing as music criticism?

John Deathridge, 20 February 1986

Music and Civilisation: Essays in Honour of Paul Henry Lang 
edited by Edmond Strainchamps, Maria Rika Maniates and Christopher Hatch.
Norton, 499 pp., £35, March 1985, 0 393 01677 3
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The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-1914 
edited by Kay Dreyfus.
Macmillan, 542 pp., £25, December 1985, 0 333 38085 1
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by Joseph Kerman.
Collins/Fontana, 255 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 00 197170 0
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... and music patron Baron Gottfried van Swieten, the guardian angel of Mozart’s late style. Richard Taruskin accuses Stravinsky of lying about the original idea of The Rite of Spring, which was visual and frankly ‘Scriabinistic’ rather than purely musical. In various autobiographical statements Stravinsky dismissed the help of Nicholas Roerich in ...


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

... of the Baroness Dunn. Henry (‘Taipan’) Keswick and the now ex-ministerial but ever-amusing Richard Needham are fellow-guests. A heated disagreement between them about Chris Patten’s governorship of Hong Kong flares up and amicably subsides. Entirely by chance, we meet the Pattens in London the very next evening for the first time since long before ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... debacle with a clumsily broad brush. The milieu she describes of ‘Terry-Thomas dashers and Kay Kendall girls’ lacking in social ‘self-awareness’, for whom ‘the threat of levelling tendencies’ and ‘the encroachment of Lucky Jim Dixon’ had yet to loom, is as crude a caricature as anything in the press coverage of the Lucan affair.From this ...

Do I like it?

Terry Castle: Outsider Art, 28 July 2011

... Twomblys, accidental Jackson Pollocks, accidental works by Eva Hesse or Louise Bourgeois or Richard Tuttle or Jean-Michel Basquiat. (See recent coup to the right: an accidental Philip Guston. Guston’s 1968 painting Boot is above, and below a CE artist’s picture, now in my collection, of an eight-fingered glove.) At such moments, you not only feel ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... race ... as if writhing under a load of disreputable guilt ... I forgot to mention the sight of Kay-Shuttle-worth, pale, with the tears running down his face, consumed with curiosity to see who was there, peering about, then recollecting himself and renewing his decent grief.’ At the Coronation he notes the judges like red caterpillars, a little boy ...

Against Whales

Paul Keegan, 20 July 1995

The Moon by Whale Light 
by Diane Ackerman.
Phoenix, 260 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 1 85799 087 0
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The Last Panda 
by George Schaller.
Chicago, 292 pp., $13.95, May 1993, 0 226 73629 6
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The Great Ape Project 
edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer.
Fourth Estate, 312 pp., £9.99, June 1993, 1 85702 126 6
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... in the field as possible; he accuses his journal of lack of inspiration; he and his wife Kay, during her visits, take turns at being depressed. His book is very good on all of these things. Impatient, he is also tenacious. Consider the panda, he asks, and he proceeds to do so with cumulative scientific tact. Having radio-collared those pandas which ...

Making It Up

Raphael Samuel, 4 July 1996

Raymond Williams 
by Fred Inglis.
Routledge, 333 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 415 08960 3
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... and Windus archive (one of his very few manuscript sources), Inglis comes on a 1953 letter by one Kay Burton accusing Williams of plagiarism and claiming that the section on Ibsen, in his first book, rested on some Cambridge lectures by Muriel Brad-brook. Inglis quotes from Williams’s ‘cross’ denial, claims (without giving chapter or verse) that his ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... pastiche: The Magic Mountain, the search for Corvo, Kafka (Francis Jay temporarily becomes Franz Kay) and Borges are alluded to. Magic and dirty realism are invoked. There is much virtuoso play with modern critical theory, in which Bradbury exhibits prodigious expertise while at the same time suggesting that it’s all something of a con. The narrative hops ...

A Misreading of the Law

Conor Gearty: Why didn’t Campbell sue?, 19 February 2004

Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly CMG 
by Lord Hutton.
Stationery Office, 740 pp., £70, January 2004, 0 10 292715 4
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... or other changed. The inquiry into the Matrix Churchill affair by the lively and loquacious Richard Scott, a famously bicycling judge, played its part. The new willingness of the judges to be interviewed also helped, even though the interviews were invariably conducted with a deference that had long been withdrawn from ordinary politicians. The ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... I suppose because the rasping quality in his voice echoed Auden’s harsh tones. However, because Richard Griffiths was available and indeed anxious to play the part, the role went to him. Emergency casting sessions such as the one Gambon knew we were holding are always mildly hysterical and often very funny as assorted names (often wildly unsuitable) are put ...

His Spittin’ Image

Colm Tóibín: John Stanislaus Joyce, 22 February 2018

... is a necessary evil,’ Stephen Dedalus says in Ulysses. In Yeats: The Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann quoted Ivan Karamazov: ‘Who doesn’t desire his father’s death?’ ‘From the Urals to Donegal,’ Ellmann writes, the theme recurs, in Turgenev, in Samuel Butler, in Gosse. It is especially prominent in Ireland. George Moore, in his ...

A Short History of the Trump Family

Sidney Blumenthal: The First Family, 16 February 2017

... on, he tells his Wasp wife he has nothing to do with the sordid business: ‘That’s my family, Kay – that’s not me.’ But he becomes everything he was determined not to be. His success is to have transformed the Family into a corporation. ‘This is the business we have chosen,’ he is told by Hyman Roth, the Mafia character based on the real-life ...

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