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Fault-Finders

Michael Dobson, 18 November 1993

‘Hamlet’ versus ‘Lear’: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare’s Art 
by R.A. Foakes.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £30, March 1993, 0 521 34292 9
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Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels 
by Brian Vickers.
Yale, 508 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 300 05415 7
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Shakespeare, Poet and Citizen 
by Victor Kieran.
Verso, 261 pp., £18.95, March 1993, 0 86091 392 9
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... Left and Right (1991), in which one can not only see many of the same points being made (by Richard Levin), but also see numbers of them convincingly refuted. Like ‘Hamlet’ versus ‘Lear’ which laments the unprecedented ‘processing’ of Shakespeare carried out nowadays by explicitly political critics, Appropriating Shakespeare is founded on a ...

Welly-Whanging

Thomas Jones: Alan Hollinghurst, 6 May 2004

The Line of Beauty 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 501 pp., £16.99, April 2004, 9780330483209
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... a brief vision of himself, as if the trees and bushes had rolled away and all the lights of London shone in on him: little Nick Guest from Barwick, Don and Dot Guest’s boy, fucking a stranger in a Notting Hill garden at night. Leo was right, it was so bad, and it was so much the best thing he’d ever done. The Line of Beauty is concerned not only with ...

Save us from saviours

Thomas Pavel: E.M. Cioran, 27 May 2010

Searching for Cioran 
by Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston.
Indiana, 284 pp., £18.99, March 2009, 978 0 253 35267 5
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A Short History of Decay 
by E.M. Cioran, translated by Richard Howard.
Penguin, 186 pp., £9.99, May 2010, 978 0 14 119272 7
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... place in a single moment of illumination. Just as Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, where he shone like the sun, conversed with dead prophets and was addressed as ‘Son’ by the voice of God (Matthew 17.1-9), the transfiguration of Romania would confer an instant radiance on the country that would turn it into the bearer of a higher destiny. As for ...

After-Time

Christopher Hitchens, 19 October 1995

Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... and so never lived to know what I have known – the Beatles, black power, the Administration of Richard Nixon – all this has taken place in a trivial after-time and has nothing to do with anything that really mattered, with summer and someone hardly remembered, a youth so abruptly translated from vivid, well-loved (if briefly) flesh to a few scraps of ...

Mystery and Imagination

Stephen Bann, 17 November 1983

The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge Luis Borges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... page of this fine collection is without some comparable finesse of style, and the two translators, Richard and Lucia Cunningham, have worked hard for the marvellous combined effect of limpidity and obscurity which Maria Luisa Bombal creates. Crispin Kitto’s The Antarctica Cookbook is more of a confidence trick than a novel. But the reason why such a shoddy ...

Sunshine

David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... both national and televisual – that made them possible. To accept (and extend to Celtic Britain) Richard Hoggart’s assertion, in The Way We Live Now, that the English are ‘most characteristic of their collective selves when being irreverent, vulgar, nutty rather than when brought together in deference or respect for occasions invented by their ...

No False Modesty

Rosemary Hill: Edith Sitwell, 20 October 2011

Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius 
by Richard Greene.
Virago, 532 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 86049 967 8
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... years her local department store in Bayswater) – is one of several interesting points on which Richard Greene has nothing to say in this disappointingly flat biography. Why she did it she explained herself. It was, like so much in her life and work, the result of a famously (if productively) unhappy childhood. The Sitwells, Edith and her two younger ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... and drew support from the other players in this drama: the Imagists – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Aldington, T.E. Hulme, F.S. Flint, John Gould Fletcher, Amy Lowell – as well as scores more who had a stake in the continuing vitality of literature, including Yeats, Lawrence, Ford Madox Ford, Wyndham Lewis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. The ...

What’s Left?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Russian Revolution, 30 March 2017

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution 
by China Miéville.
Verso, 358 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 78478 280 1
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The Russian Revolution 1905-1921 
by Mark D. Steinberg.
Oxford, 388 pp., £19.99, February 2017, 978 0 19 922762 4
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Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 
by S.A. Smith.
Oxford, 455 pp., £25, January 2017, 978 0 19 873482 6
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The Russian Revolution: A New History 
by Sean McMeekin.
Basic, 496 pp., $30, May 2017, 978 0 465 03990 6
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Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution 
by Tony Brenton.
Profile, 364 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 78125 021 1
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... they might do so again’ (how’s that for a really minimal claim?). ‘Liberty’s dim light’ shone briefly, even if ‘what might have been a sunrise [turned out to be] a sunset.’ But it could have been otherwise with the Russian Revolution, and ‘if its sentences are still unfinished, it is up to us to finish them.’ Mark Steinberg is the only one ...

Akihito and the Sorrows of Japan

Richard Lloyd Parry: The Anxious Emperor, 19 March 2020

... said, ‘I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated.’Akihito’s politics shone through on other, less formal occasions. At a garden party, he expressed his disagreement with the Tokyo city government’s decision to make it compulsory for schools to raise the flag and sing the national anthem, a hymn to the emperor. His most memorable ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson, 19 February 2015

Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... fiction. What she dreamed of escaping to is hard to say. One of the problems faced by Richard Mabey in his biography of Thompson, Dreams of the Good Life, is that Lark Rise to Candleford and its sequel, Heatherley, which wasn’t published until 1979, are almost the only sources we have. By the time she came to write them, the intervening years ...

Cooking it up

Rupert Christiansen, 19 January 1989

Maria: Callas Remembered 
by Nadia Stancioff.
Sidgwick, 264 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 283 99645 5
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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes 
by John Ardoin.
Robson, 300 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 86051 504 4
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Callas as they saw her 
edited by David Lowe.
Robson, 264 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 9780860514961
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The Great Caruso 
by Michael Scott.
Hamish Hamilton, 322 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 241 11954 5
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Chaliapin 
by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... Opera became a sensitive field of ideological possibilities: the traditions associated with Richard Wagner, in particular, had to be reassessed in the withering light of Nazism, while in Italy the revival – begun under Mussolini as part of a nationalist cultural policy – of an apparently dead repertory of early 19th-century works led to a vogue for ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... who acquired Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero. Lish had the cult cred, but their properties shone the brightest. Gary and Morgan, Morgan and Gary, Jay and Bret, Bret and Jay – how often we heard their names tick-tock together then, the cricket chatter of the zeitgeist. Along with Tama Janowitz (Slaves of New York), Jay and Bret were touted as the ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’, 28 January 2010

The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... and make-up probably owed more to stage adaptations of Frankenstein than to the novel itself. Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein, which opened on 28 July 1823, ran for 37 performances in London, with Mr T.P. Cooke a great success in the role of –––, as the play called Frankenstein’s creature. Mary Shelley, who went ...

A Light-Blue Stocking

Helen Deutsch: Hester Lynch Salusbury Thrale Piozzi, 14 May 2009

Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’ 
by Ian McIntyre.
Constable, 450 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 1 84529 449 6
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... for this honour – and another of her guests – was Elizabeth Montagu, against whom Hester shone for her excesses. ‘Mrs Montagu … reasons well, and harangues well, but wit she has none,’ Fanny Burney wrote. ‘Mrs Thrale has almost too much; for when she is in spirits, it bursts forth in torrents almost overwhelming.’ At Montagu’s ...

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