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Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... throw episodes you would rather have forgotten. But the Profumo case, which should be called the Stephen Ward case, will not go down. The longer it is around, the uglier it gets. It is a shocking story, which will continue to discredit its participants, all the more so for as long as they pretend, like Lord Denning, that there was no injustice perpetrated ...

Purging Stephen Spender

Susannah Clapp, 26 October 1989

Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Chatto, 358 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 7011 2938 7
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For Sylvia: An Honest Account 
by Valentine Ackland.
Chatto, 135 pp., £6.95, July 1989, 9780701135621
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... mother and as owning a ‘preponderantly masculine’ intellect. At the age of 36 she fell for a young woman with a face like a sulky choirboy, and relaxed into a lifelong partnership, explaining: ‘I lean more and more on her trousers.’ Claire Harman has written a bright and freshly-expressed biography, which is full of interesting ...

The Ultimate Novel

William Empson, 19 August 1982

Ulysses 
by Hugh Kenner.
Allen and Unwin, 182 pp., £10, March 1980, 0 00 480003 6
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A Starchamber Quiry: A James Joyce Centennial Volume 1882-1982 
edited by E.L. Epstein.
Methuen, 164 pp., £9.50, February 1982, 0 416 31560 7
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... own book. He puts a new idea of his own into both of these books, and it urgently needs refuting. Stephen, he says (Kenner’s Ulysses, p. 152), is practically blind all through the book; his eyes without his glasses focus eight inches in front of his nose, and he broke them ‘yesterday’. This proves that whenever he claims to see anything he is only ...
A Matter of Justice: The Legal System in Ferment 
by Michael Zander.
Tauris, 323 pp., £16.50, February 1988, 1 85043 040 3
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The Coercive State: The Decline of Democracy in Britain 
by Paddy Hillyard and Janie Percy-Smith.
Fontana, 352 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 00 637083 7
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... improve the chances of acquittal in the Cyprus secrets trial: [A]’s point was that we wanted a young, working-class jury. [B] made the comment that he really wanted an anti-establishment jury and that we were better off to have a young middle-age middle-class jury ... [C] indicated that if the jury is not too well ...

The Ultimate Novel

William Empson, 2 September 1982

Ulysses 
by Hugh Kenner.
Allen and Unwin, 182 pp., £10, March 1982, 0 00 480003 6
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A Starchamber Quiry: A James Joyce Centennial Volume 1882-1982 
edited by E.L. Epstein.
Methuen, 164 pp., £9.50, February 1982, 0 416 31560 7
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... argument. I need now to list the main details throughout the book which prepare the reader for Stephen to accept the Bloom Offer. There is at once a rather quaint obstacle. Most readers of Ulysses do not believe in omens, but Joyce eagerly did; in this he is genuinely like Homer. Four of the characters receive omens, and Joyce would regard these as an ...

Ho Chi Minh in Love

Tariq Ali, 22 November 2012

The Zenith 
by Duong Thu Huong, translated by Stephen Young and Hoa Pham Young.
Viking US, 509 pp., £25, August 2012, 978 0 670 02375 2
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... not Germans). He looks awkward in the photograph taken at Versailles, a sleek, well-dressed young man who found it difficult to manage the obligatory smile. The rebuff radicalised him further. At the Socialist Party Congress in Tours in 1920, he backed the pro-Bolshevik faction that created the French Communist Party, thus becoming a founder ...

Kitty still pines for his dearest Dub

Andrew O’Hagan: Gossip, 6 February 2014

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... by Bloomsbury – the books, the people, the scarves, the gossip – which led them to venerate Stephen Spender as one of its last links. Squeezed into a narrow bed, they would read Spender’s World within World together and admire ‘that entirely English’ set-up in which, Plante wrote at the time, ‘I fantasise having a place, even if that world no ...

Anglo-America

Stephen Fender, 3 April 1980

The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... the cultural horsepower of Europe, as compared to America, which has been fashionable ever since Stephen Spender’s Love-Hate Relations. Philip Toynbee, in the Observer, came right out with it: ‘by now it is hard to see any reason why an American writer or artist should wish to settle either in Paris or London.’ Then, of course, it was another ...
... Mary my mother, deceased Of the desert fever while I was but a ‘wee bairn’; I am but ten, too young to remember her voice. I do like your fairy tales so much – the tin soldier and the ugly, Ugly duckling. I would like to go and visit you; When Papa comes home from Africa I intend To ask him to take me. I live where he began As a piecer of ...

The First Protest

Stephen Frears, 24 May 2018

... Alexandre Trauner, both refugees from Nazi Germany. After the war he had shown his films to the young people who became first the critics of Cahiers du Cinéma and then the directors of the Nouvelle Vague. He was passionate, eccentric, chaotic and unbureaucratic, and above all obsessive, once arriving in Switzerland with a copy of Buñuel’s Wuthering ...

Auden’s Funeral

Stephen Spender, 4 June 1981

... on the bed, And fell out of men’s praise, dead on the floor. III Ghost of a ghost, of you when young, you waken In me my ghost when young, us both at Oxford. You, the tow-haired undergraduate With jaunty liftings of the hectoring head, Angular forward stride, cross-questioning glance, A putty-faced comedian’s ...

From Soup to Fish

Andrew O’Hagan: The Spender Marriage, 17 December 2015

A House in St John’s Wood: In Search of My Parents 
by Matthew Spender.
William Collins, 448 pp., £25, August 2015, 978 0 00 813206 4
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... In​ the 1990s, when literary parties were more fun, or I was more fun, I used occasionally to see Stephen Spender: there he was, the establishment on quivering legs, queer as a chocolate orange but safely married. (When I spoke to him, I discovered he could flirt with his eyes shut.) Frank Kermode, a great friend to this paper but never knowingly unmalicious, remarked that ‘Stephen never knew where he was going but he always knew the quickest way to get there ...
The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Vol. I: Civilisation, Politics and Religion 
edited by Rhagavan Iyer.
Oxford, 644 pp., £40, February 1986, 0 19 824754 0
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The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Vol. II: Truth and Non-Violence 
edited by Rhagavan Iyer.
Oxford, 678 pp., £50, October 1986, 0 19 824755 9
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The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Vol. III: Non-Violent Resistance and Social Transformation 
edited by Rhagavan Iyer.
Oxford, 641 pp., £55, May 1987, 0 19 824756 7
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... he founded, managed and edited a number of important journals about current issues, including Young India, Indian Opinion and Harijan. In their pages he would expound his principles, report on their practice, engage in debate with his critics, and publish his speeches and interviews. In addition to this, he conducted a voluminous private ...

Instead of a Present

Alan Bennett, 15 April 1982

... he has been 60 for the last 25 years. On his own admission there was never a boy Larkin; no young lad Philip, let alone Phil, ever. Besides, why a book? He must be fed up at the sight of books. It’s books, books, books every day of his life, and now here’s another of the blighters. Why not something more along the lines of a biscuit barrel? Because ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: Peace in Our Lunchtime, 6 October 1994

... to put on a show of strength before calling it off. I’ll be happy with a ceasefire, I’ve got a young family. I’m not a criminal and I would never have been inside if it wasn’t for the Troubles.’ Other Loyalist operators aren’t so peaceable. Those who talk to them, like the Rev. Roy Magee, told me there was a danger that violence would be exported ...

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