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How does he come to be mine?

Tim Parks: Dickens’s Children

8 August 2013
Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 239 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 0 374 29880 7
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... used to being rescued, Dickens changed the rules, closed the gate after them, and hid in the garden with some of the older children. In Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, RobertGottlieb quotes the letter in which Dickens explains to his wife what happened: ‘Presently, we heard them come back and say to each other with some alarm: “Why, the gate’s shut, and they are ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne

3 September 1981
David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... by 11, and weighing six pounds 13 ounces, David O. Selznick’s Hollywood is less a coffee-table book than a coffee table without legs. Its credits ape a blockbuster movie’s: ‘Executive Producer: RobertGottlieb – Associate Producer: Martha Kaplan’, etc; and its first page opens like cinema curtains on a wider-than-Panavision main title modelled on Gone with the Wind. A good half of the book is ...

Slumming with Rappers at the Roxy

Hal Foster: Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture by John Seabrook

21 September 2000
Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture 
by John Seabrook.
Methuen, 215 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 0 413 74470 1
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... In fact by 1987 it was running at a loss of $12 million a year – a high price-tag for respectability, even for a mega-rich guy. Newhouse wanted both respectability and profitability, and turned to RobertGottlieb, editor-in-chief at Knopf (US publisher of Nobrow, for those keeping score), as the man to make this cocktail swirl. In a retrospect that is easy but exact, Seabrook sees Gottlieb as a ...


Jenny Diski

28 April 1994
Roald Dahl: A Biography 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Faber, 307 pp., £17.50, March 1994, 0 571 16573 7
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... Mr Fox, The BFG) were almost entirely replotted and sometimes rewritten by his various editors, who sweated over his first drafts until such time as his imperious vanity was no longer tolerable. RobertGottlieb of Knopf finally had to invoke his ‘Fuck-You Principle’, which held that he’d put up with difficult authors only until he could take no more, and then, business or no business, fuck ...

Adieu, madame

Terry Castle: Sarah Bernhardt

4 November 2010
Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Yale, 233 pp., £18.99, October 2010, 978 0 300 14127 6
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... and Its Discontents’. ‘Théodora: A Case of Byzantine Hysteria’. He might even have named some crucial analytic concept after her: the Female Ovation Complex, perhaps. And indeed, why not? As RobertGottlieb’s concise yet stylish new biography reminds us, the great actress’s sumptuously chequered life would have presented even the most dimwitted Viennese shrink with a veritable orchestra pit ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland

16 August 1990
Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... he had authorial ambitions, Toole wrote A Confederacy of Dunces in the early Sixties, while doing his national service in Puerto Rico. The manuscript was submitted to Simon and Schuster, where RobertGottlieb, after dickering for two years, eventually turned it down in 1966. By 1969 Toole was an English instructor at Dominican University, working in his spare time on his PhD. A modest academic ...

Chasing Kites

Michael Wood: The Craziness of Ved Mehta

23 February 2006
The Red Letters: My Father’s Enchanted Period 
by Ved Mehta.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 190 pp., £15.99, November 2004, 0 9543520 6 8
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Remembering Mr Shawn’s ‘New Yorker’ 
by Ved Mehta.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 414 pp., £19.99, November 2004, 9780954352059
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Dark Harbour 
by Ved Mehta.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 272 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 0 9543520 4 1
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... in Oxford liked the stuff. Always good to know your own mind. But Remembering Mr Shawn becomes melancholy as it chronicles what Mehta sees as the demise of the New Yorker. Shawn is fired in 1987; RobertGottlieb becomes editor; then Tina Brown. David Remnick’s tenure is beyond the frame of this book. Mehta understands that times change and that the New Yorker had become more than a little ...

Back to Life

Christopher Benfey: Rothko’s Moment

20 May 2015
Mark Rothko: Towards the Light in the Chapel 
by Annie Cohen-Solal.
Yale, 296 pp., £18.99, February 2015, 978 0 300 18204 0
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... his suicide two years earlier, when he was 66, a suicide planned with the same elaborate care with which he staged his paintings. ‘We were surprised to learn that his suicide was so ritualistic,’ Robert Motherwell said. For me, and I imagine for many others then as now, Rothko just was his paintings – paintings that seemed, when we stood before them spellbound, to be our shifting moods themselves ...


Robert​ Irwin: Pinball and Despair

7 July 1994
... common room and clock up the maximum possible number of replays before buying myself some breakfast. After breakfast, I would return to the game to clock up some more replays. It was an antiquated Gottlieb machine, assembled sometime in the Sixties, and hence without the doubtful improvements of the electronic age. It had a storyline based on card-play. As the ball hit the drop targets or was flung out ...

Tarot Triumph

Edmund Leach

4 September 1980
The Game of Tarot: from Ferrara to Salt Lake City 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £45, August 1980, 0 7156 1014 7
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Twelve Tarot Games 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 242 pp., £5.95, August 1980, 0 7156 1488 6
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... the origins of Dummett’s project roughly as follows. In 1968, he spent three months in the United States. It was a year of political disaster. Nixon became President; Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated. But for Dummett things were even worse at home. He was ‘deeply involved in work to combat that racism which has, over the past fifteen years, disfigured our national ...

Woman in Love

Brigid Brophy

7 February 1985
The Life of Jane Austen 
by John Halperin.
Harvester, 400 pp., December 1984, 0 7108 0518 7
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... charming book The Innocent Diversion, of 1979, which establishes, from the sheet music she owned and copied, that Jane Austen was a highly proficient keyboard performer and identifies, as by Daniel Gottlieb Steilbelt, the noisy pianoforte music Marianne Dashwood plays during Elinor’s secret conversation with Lucy Steele. Jane Austen’s feelings about music were certainly ambivalent and often they ...

Adrenaline Junkie

Jonathan Parry: John Tyndall’s Ascent

21 March 2019
The Ascent of John Tyndall: Victorian Scientist, Mountaineer and Public Intellectual 
by Roland Jackson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 878895 9
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... Discovering God’s order was therefore an individual and a societal imperative. Tyndall’s main inspiration was Thomas Carlyle, along with transcendental idealist philosophers such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Carlyle was Tyndall’s supporter at his wedding in 1876, Tyndall a pallbearer at Carlyle’s funeral in 1881.) To labour towards higher knowledge wasn’t exactly ...
16 October 1997
The Man without Qualities 
by Robert​ Musil, translated by Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike.
Picador, 1774 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 330 34682 2
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The Man without Qualities 
by Robert​ Musil, translated by Sophie Wilkins.
Picador, 1130 pp., £15, October 1997, 0 330 34942 2
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... Meingast, new age prophet; Lindner, self-appointed moralist and would-be saviour of Ulrich’s sister’s soul. The definitive example, however, never actually appears, we only hear about him. Gottlieb Hagauer, Agathe’s husband, is everything he declares himself to be, everything his role in life says he should be: ‘a model of the industrious, capable person, doing his best for humanity in his ...

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