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24 April 1997
... essential.’ That has an ominous sound. None of these suggestions seems to fit the way in which V.S. Pritchett wrote his novels and stories. Many are absolute masterpieces, no doubt about that: but the master who wrote them did not think his own process deserved any extended comment. Never had a great craftsman, and one who was universally admitted to ...

Rochet and Chimère

V.S. Pritchett

6 March 1980
... that in his nature, and Virginia Woolf twitted him for dining with duchesses – might think our lives peculiar, but he could not resist the variety of human nature. Raymond was undoubtedly at his best when writing for the New Statesman, because he liked swimming against the current. He often quarrelled with its politics. The fellow-travelling of the Thirties ...

A Sense of England

Graham Bradshaw

17 February 1983
Collected Stories 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 520 pp., £12.50, June 1982, 0 7011 3904 8
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... In 1976, V.S. Pritchett remarked that ‘what has always struck me in Irish writing is the sense of Ireland itself, its past or its imagined future, as a presence or invisible character.’ He added that in English short stories ‘the sense of England as an extra character is very rarely felt ...
16 July 1981
The Oxford Book of Short Stories 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Oxford, 547 pp., £9.50, June 1981, 0 19 214116 3
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The Short Story in English 
by Walter Allen.
Oxford, 413 pp., £9.50, February 1981, 0 19 812666 2
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... incident or event – these seem to be the defining characteristics of the short story for both V.S. Pritchett, in his introduction to The Oxford Book of Short Stories, and Walter Allen, in his critical survey, The Short Story in English. ‘The short story,’ writes Allen, is ‘rooted in a single incident or perception’; its effect ‘is nearer to ...
22 May 1980
On the Edge of the Cliff 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 179 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 7011 2438 5
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The Tale Bearers: Essays on English, American and Other Writers 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 223 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 7011 2435 0
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... V.S. Pritchett’s short stories are retrospective, provincial, formless and feminine. His is an art that does not care how peripheral it sometimes seems. There are no twists, payoffs, reverses, jackpots or epiphanies. Pritchett never rubs life up the wrong way, and is happy to leave only a faint shine on its fur ...
5 February 1981
Green Avenue: The Life and Writings of Forrest Reid 1875-1947 
by Brian Taylor.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 521 22801 8
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... house in a noisy and dirty factory district. His room was bare and poor, and only packed shelves of books, carefully bound in white paper covers to protect them from smoke and smuts, suggested the bibliophile and the scholar. A pile of novels for review stood on his table, alongside his papers and pencils, and the remains of a cold leg of mutton which, I ...

Victor Ludorum

Julian Symons

20 December 1990
The Complete Short Stories 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 1220 pp., £25, November 1990, 0 7011 3712 6
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Lasting Impressions 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 171 pp., £15.99, November 1990, 0 7011 3606 5
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... against those of the mass. The work of committed writers, in contrast, was rooted not only in the visible world but also in the rapidly changing pattern of social habits and attitudes. Thoroughgoing existentialists believed in the virtues of irresponsibility, but for others the question of the degree and nature of commitment nagged like an aching tooth. In ...
6 March 1980
... Several authors have died in the course of Britain’s current and by now customary hard winter. V.S. Pritchett writes, nearby, about one of them, and I would like to write about another – the novelist, Barbara Pym. To think of her in relation to a literary world, with its apparatus of publicity and reward, gives a sense of incongruity, but, of course, there’s a tale that hangs on the connection – the story of how this world turned from her in middle age, after her work of the Fifties, which was indeed ‘of the Fifties’ to a degree that was barely understood at the time ...
20 March 1980
Peacock Displayed: A Satirist in his Context 
by Marilyn Butler.
Routledge, 361 pp., £10.95, October 1979, 0 7100 0293 9
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... in the air over their heads, though the evils attacked were present to their eyes, and in their lives, as the Industrial Revolution brutally transformed the country. Here, for the committed Peacock, people become grotesques – they were ideas walking. The satirist has found his ballet of talkers. What, for example, was this new thing called ...

Diary

John Bayley: On V.S. Pritchett, the Man of Letters

30 January 1992
... A visit to the exhibits at the Tate Gallery short-listed for this year’s Turner Prize shows how professionalism today runs not only artistic theory but art itself. There was nothing to take in except the theory of it. Animated discussion, even cries of pleasure and pain, were to be heard from the neighbouring exhibition of the strange and superb work of Gerhard Richter ...
16 March 1989
Chekhov: A Spirit Set Free 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Hodder, 235 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 340 37409 8
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... It is likely that The Cherry Orchard was suggested by Chekhov’s story ‘A Visit to Friends’, which he did not include in the collected edition, and which concerns a family in dire financial straits (Chekhov knew them) who pin their hopes on a shrewd and successful young lawyer friend ...
8 May 1997
Selected Stories 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 412 pp., £16.99, November 1996, 0 7011 6521 9
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... oddity by seeing it through them. In this category are Tolstoy, Chekhov; and in our age the late V.S. Pritchett and Alice Munro. Alice Munro is such a good writer that nobody bothers anymore to judge her goodness, as people long ago stopped judging Pritchett’s – her reputation is like a good address. She is surely ...

Trips

Graham Coster

26 July 1990
In Xanadu: A Quest 
by William Dalrymple.
Collins, 314 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 00 217948 2
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The Gunpowder Gardens 
by Jason Goodwin.
Chatto, 230 pp., £14.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Silk Roads: The Asian Adventures of André and Clara Malraux 
by Axel Madsen.
Tauris, 299 pp., £14.95, April 1990, 1 85043 209 0
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At Home and Abroad 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 332 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Great Plains 
by Ian Frazier.
Faber, 290 pp., £14.99, March 1990, 0 571 14260 5
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... because you have been changed by it. At the end of An Area of Darkness, his exploration of India, V.S. Naipaul can write that: ‘It was a journey that ought not to have been made; it had broken my life in two.’ Graham Greene, surviving a feverish night in the Liberian interior, records a comparable epiphany: ‘I had discovered in myself a passionate ...

Life at the Pastry Board

Stefan Collini: V.S. Pritchett

4 November 2004
V.S. PritchettA Working Life 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Chatto, 308 pp., £25, October 2004, 9780701173227
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... whose outcomes we find satisfying. For the greater part of his very long adult life, Victor Sawdon Pritchett seems to have been a happy man. Pritchett’s son, Oliver, later recalled that he and his sister grew up ‘in a word factory’. ‘The handwritten pages, covered in re...

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