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Juiced

David Runciman: Winners Do Drugs, 3 August 2006

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports 
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Gotham, 332 pp., $26, March 2006, 1 59240 199 6
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... Inside a shopping mall in Fargo, North Dakota there is a museum dedicated to the memory of Roger Maris, one-time star of the New York Yankees and home run champion of baseball. When I visited in the mid-1990s I thought it was the saddest museum I had ever seen. The reason it lurks in the entrance to a mall – just a few glass-fronted displays of old shirts, balls and assorted memorabilia for people to glance at on their way to spend money on something else – is that Maris made it clear before his death from lymphoma at the age of 51 that he didn’t want anyone to make a fuss ...

Formulaic Thrills

Thomas Jones: A mathematical murder mystery, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Murders 
by Guillermo Martínez, translated by Sonia Soto.
Abacus, 197 pp., £9.99, January 2005, 0 349 11721 7
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... confession is a staple of detective fiction – and not unheard of in real life. In Qui a tué Roger Ackroyd? (1998), Pierre Bayard proposed an alternative solution to Agatha Christie’s most notoriously ingenious plot, which fits the evidence better than Hercule Poirot’s (making, in the process, a larger point about the ways in which texts are ...

Shady

Colin Jones: Voltaire’s Loneliness, 25 May 2006

Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom 
by Roger Pearson.
Bloomsbury, 447 pp., £18.99, November 2005, 0 7475 7495 2
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Le Monde des salons 
by Antoine Lilti.
Fayard, 572 pp., £30, October 2005, 2 213 62292 2
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... had lived by writing – and after 1758 the words came just as abundantly. At a shrewd estimate, Roger Pearson calculates in his sprightly and thoroughly engaging biography, some fifteen million words flowed from Voltaire’s pen. The critical edition currently being published by Oxford’s Voltaire Foundation is scheduled to contain 85 volumes. As well as ...

Underneath the Spreading Christmas Tree

Gareth Stedman Jones, 22 December 1994

Private Lives, Public Spirit: A Social History of Britain 1870-1914 
by José Harris.
Oxford, 283 pp., £17.95, June 1993, 0 19 820412 4
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... 1910, the year of the Post-Impressionist Exhibition (the birth of the modern world, according to Roger Fry); or, more obviously, 1914. The terms of this contrast were clearly implied in Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians, published in 1918. Of Strachey’s chosen targets, Cardinal Manning was a self-deceiving hypocrite, Dr Thomas Arnold the epitome of ...

Rogering in Merryland

Thomas Keymer: The Unspeakable Edmund Curll, 13 December 2007

Edmund Curll, Bookseller 
by Paul Baines and Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 388 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 19 927898 5
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... claims to have inherited the work in manuscript from a recently deceased Irishman called ‘Roger Pheuquewell’, and their analysis of Stretzer’s preface ends in the guarded conclusion that ‘Pheuquewell emerges more as a representative type than as the portrait of a real individual.’ But we learn from Stretzer that the Pheuquewell family are ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... Isaacs), to the guest-house in Rhyl where Hanratty said he’d stayed. The landlady, Mrs Grace Jones, was not at all diverted by the pulverising she’d got from the prosecution at the trial. She was more sure than ever that Hanratty had stayed in her house on the night of the murder, 22 August 1961. She was backed up by Terry Evans, whom Hanratty had met ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Wyndham Lewis, 11 September 2008

... Vorticism, the movement he set up with Pound and others around 1913 after a break with Roger Fry, would probably have had a short life even if the war had not intervened. Lewis was not a team player; looking back he said: ‘Vorticism, in fact, was what I, personally, did, and said, at a certain period.’ Other surviving Vorticists were, with ...

Never Not Slightly Comical

Thomas Jones: Amit Chaudhuri, 2 July 2015

Odysseus Abroad 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Oneworld, 243 pp., £12.99, February 2015, 978 1 78074 621 0
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... him. Uncle and nephew both enjoy Bond movies, though. ‘Last week, witnessing again with concern Roger Moore get into all sorts of scrapes but surviving them to brush the dust off his jacket and straighten his tie, Ananda’s uncle had leaned towards him and murmured: “Pupu, what would we do in such a situation? We’d be hopeless!”’ But who wouldn’t ...

Church of Garbage

Robert Irwin, 3 February 2000

The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives 
by Carole Hillenbrand.
Edinburgh, 648 pp., £80, July 1999, 0 7486 0905 9
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... itself as one of the pieties of Crusading historiography long before the veteran Python, Terry Jones, delivered his adverse verdict on television. Even novelists like Scott, Henty and Rider Haggard have been inclined to take a remarkably severe view of the Crusading enterprise. It is hardly surprising that modern Arab historians, besides condemning the ...

A Valediction for Philip Larkin

Clive James, 6 February 1986

... miles over Crete in a Tristar Surrounded by the orchestrated snores Induced by some old film of Roger Moore’s. Things will be tougher now you’ve proved your point By leaving early, that the man upstairs Neither controls what happens in the joint We call the world, nor noticeably cares. While being careful not to put on airs, It is perhaps the right time ...

‘Succession’

John Lanchester, 21 November 2019

... closeness.’ This storyline looks as if it is loosely based on Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones, proprietor of the Wall Street Journal. Quite a few plot lines from Succession are like that, half-pinched from real life: where Rupert Murdoch appeared in front of a parliamentary committee to declare it ‘the most humble day of my life’ in response to ...

Bolsheviks and Bohemians

Angus Calder, 5 April 1984

The Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Hugh Brogan.
Cape, 456 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 224 02010 2
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Bohemia in London 
by Arthur Ransome, introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Oxford, 284 pp., £3.50, January 1984, 0 19 281412 5
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... even if he didn’t point it out himself, that in this era it was still an affront to leave Tom Jones on your mother’s drawing-room table. To read Bohemia, then look again at Swallows and Amazons, might make for a sense of eerie discontinuity. Ransome’s first original fiction for children retains an air of complete mastery. The story, slight in itself ...

My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... with elegant epistles’ which he had painstakingly written. The opening letter in Roger Kuin’s superb new edition of his correspondence, addressed to the 12-year-old Philip by his father, Sir Henry, urges him ‘to exercise that practise’ in letter writing, ‘for it will stand you in most steed in that profession of lyfe that you are ...

Shall we tell the children?

Paul Seabright, 3 July 1986

Melanie Klein: Her World and her Work 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hodder, 516 pp., £19.95, June 1986, 0 340 25751 2
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Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James and Alix Strachey 1924-1925 
edited by Perry Meisel and Walter Kendrick.
Chatto, 360 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7011 3051 2
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... including Nina Searl, Ella Sharpe, Susan Isaacs, Donald Winnicott and Barbara Low). Ernest Jones, the President and later Freud’s biographer, was enthusiastic (‘absolutely heart-and-soul whole-hogging pro-Melanie’, according to James Strachey). In July 1925 Klein visited London to give a course of lectures on child analysis, and her arrival for ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... Lawrence refuses to recognise virtue in anyone but himself’), and his sponsor David Pryce-Jones now finds F.R. Leavis much the same, so it may be legitimate to cite the famous excoriation of Bloomsbury that was voiced by Lawrence and amplified by Leavis: ‘they talked endlessly, but endlessly – and never, never a good thing said. They are cased ...

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