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Robert and Randy

Carey Harrison, 27 June 1991

Curtain 
by Michael Korda.
Chapmans, 415 pp., £14.95, May 1991, 1 85592 005 0
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... In Michael Korda’s Curtain a thinly disguised Laurence Olivier puts at risk his marriage to a thinly disguised Vivien Leigh by having an affair with (stop me if you’ve heard this one) a no less thinly disguised Danny Kaye. Well! Well? As a piece of writing, the novel is aimed with charming accuracy at the station bookstall trade, where it should thrive ...

What, how often and with whom?

Lawrence Stone, 3 August 1995

The Social Organisation of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States 
by Edward Laumann, John Gagnon, Robert Michael and Stuart Michaels.
Chicago, 742 pp., £39.95, October 1994, 0 226 46957 3
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Sex in America: A Definitive Survey 
by Robert Michael, John Gagnon, Edward Laumann and Gina Kolata.
Little, Brown, 289 pp., £16.99, November 1994, 0 316 91191 7
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Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Life-Styles 
by Kaye Wellings, Julia Field, A.M. Johnson and Jane Wadsworth.
Penguin, 464 pp., £15, January 1994, 0 14 015814 6
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... In the early Eighties, Western governments, notably those of America, Britain and France, were anxious to assess the probable rate of growth and pathways of infection of Aids. They sponsored extensive sex surveys in order to find out, for example, the number of sexual partners an average male had in his lifetime and how many used safe sex. The British survey was carried out by four women, primarily trained in medical statistics, epidemiology and health care ...

On Michael Neve

Mike Jay, 19 November 2019

... Michael​ Neve died on 9 October. I first met him in 1995, at a funeral. We had been taught Nietzsche by the same lecturer at Cambridge; that had been enough academia for me, but Michael had advanced (or, by his own account, stumbled haplessly) to the position of senior lecturer at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL ...

Michael Gove recommends …

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley, 20 January 2011

The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... the dead and win a new following of thrill-starved souls in thrall to his dark magic’. That was Michael Gove; the idea that a man who admires Wheatley is now in charge of the nation’s schools is more genuinely terrifying than anything Wheatley ever ...

Looking for a Crucifixion

Robert Alter, 9 September 1993

The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered 
by Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise.
Element, 286 pp., £14.95, November 1992, 0 85230 368 8
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... of a scholarly conspiracy, hinted at in the text, has recently been trumpeted by the journalists Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh in The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, which is largely a popularisation of Robert Eisenman’s theories. Unsurprisingly, Baigent and Leigh contribute an effusive blurb to this book. Eisenman for ...
... A chorus of woe prompted by the recession of 1980? No, all remarks made in 1948, and quoted by Robert Hewison in his forthcoming cultural history of the period, In Anger. Publishers are like farmers. When times are good – as they were spectacularly during the years after 1974 when the pound was weakest abroad – it’s difficult to get them to admit ...
Selected Poems 
by Patricia Beer.
Hutchinson, 152 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 09 138450 8
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The Venetian Vespers 
by Anthony Hecht.
Oxford, 91 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 19 211933 8
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Nostalgia for the Present 
by Andrei Voznesensky.
Oxford, 150 pp., £3.50, April 1980, 0 19 211900 1
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Reflections on the Nile 
by Ronald Bottrall.
London Magazine Editions, 56 pp., £3.50, May 1980, 0 904388 33 6
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Summer Palaces 
by Peter Scupham.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3, March 1980, 9780192119322
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... delicate passages: as with Mayakovsky, they are mostly about animals. In a poem called ‘Lines to Robert Lowell’, for instance, there are these lines on Arthur Miller’s dog Hugo: You’re not a dachshund, you’re a slipper, a moccasin with a gaping sole, shabby with use. A certain Unknown Being puts you on his left foot and shuffles across the ...

Mecca Bound

Robert Irwin, 21 July 1994

The Hajj: Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places 
by F.E. Peters.
Princeton, 399 pp., £19.95, July 1994, 0 691 02120 1
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Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj under the Ottomans 
by Suraiya Faroqhi.
Tauris, 244 pp., £34.50, May 1994, 1 85043 606 1
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The Hadj: A Pilgrimage to Mecca 
by Michael Wolfe.
Secker, 331 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 436 58404 2
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... In the section of The Anatomy of Melancholy devoted to the perils of religious enthusiasm, Robert Burton pauses briefly to comment on the complex and meritorious rituals of the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca: their fastings, their running till they sweat, their long prayers, Mahomets temple, tombe, and building of it, would aske a whole volume to dilate: and for their paines taken in this holy pilgrimage, all their sins are forgiven, and they are reputed so many saints ...

Broken Nights

Michael Hofmann, 3 April 2003

... Then morning comes, saying: ‘This was a night.’ Robert Lowell Broken knights. – No, not like that. Well, no matter. Something agreeably Tennysonian (is there Any other kind?) About ‘broken knights’. Sir Bors and Sir Bedivere. In my one-piece pyjamas – My it doesn’t matter suit, With necessarily non-matching – Matchless, makeless, makeles – Added top, I pad Downstairs to look At the green time On the digital microwave ...

Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

... Certainly it doesn’t appear in the striking list of words for mad states reproduced in Michael Macdonald’s Mystical Bedlam, a study of 17th-century English sources. Instead we have ‘mad’, ‘lunatic’, ‘melancholy’, ‘stubborn’, ‘suspicious’, ‘fancies and conceits’, ‘frightening dreams’. This disappearance of the Classical ...

Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 21 July 1994

... Summer For months the heat of love has kept me marching Robert Lowell I snap my boy’s bow in the morning, wash his stiffy at night, blow my brains out with music, anything from ‘Ballade von der sexuellen Hörigkeit’ to ‘Sexual Healing’. Je te veux. The vaunted sod under my feet is rolled up like a piece of turf or a blanket in my grenadier’s knapsack, along with a toothbrush and near-pristine candle end ...

The Other Half

Robert Melville, 4 July 1985

Kenneth Clark: A Biography 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 9780297783985
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... Suddenly I thought: ‘My God, he’s going to speak to me!’ ‘Am I right in thinking you’re Robert Melville?’ he said. ‘My name is Clark.’ ‘Indisputably, Sir Kenneth,’ I answered. I remember the word I used, because as soon as I said it I realised that it was ludicrously inappropriate. And I went on quickly: ‘It’s a fine Pasmore, isn’t ...

Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce, 10 September 2014

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... wants to be William Wallace.’ ‘No,’ Martin corrected him. ‘Alex Salmond wants to be Robert the Bruce.’ Wallace has been cast as ‘the people’s champion’, a role he played in the 1975 novel The Wallace by the prolific Nigel Tranter and, twenty years later, in Braveheart. But Martin was right that the appeal of Bruce would be significantly ...

Coats of Every Cut

Michael Mason, 9 June 1994

Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... to report on the world is still very fashionable, and in that sense Norman Gash’s book on Robert Surtees goes against the grain of present-day literary analysis. It does not go against the traditional grain of writing about Surtees, a novelist who has almost always been praised simply as a reporter of the English scene in the mid-19th century, even on ...

Athenian View

Michael Brock, 12 March 1992

Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 383 pp., £40, September 1991, 0 19 820173 7
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... This is an important insight: but in the area of loss of faith Dr Collini’s touch is not sure. Robert Elsmere rightly receives his attention. Mrs Humphry Ward was Matthew Arnold’s niece, her place in the circle being given posthumous confirmation by her husband’s History of the Athenaeum. Robert Elsmere’s enormous ...

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