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After High Tea

John Bayley, 23 January 1986

Love in a Cool Climate: The Letters of Mark Pattison and Meta Bradley 1879-1884 
by Vivian Green.
Oxford, 269 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 19 820080 3
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... first thing a novelist must provide is a separate world,’ and it is true that the world Dr Green has made out of the relationship of Mark Pattison and Meta Bradley is not exactly a separate world. It is a familiar one, familiar from memoirs and gossip and our general contemporary interest in the Victorian age, but ...

Born to Lying

Theo Tait: Le Carré, 3 December 2015

John le Carré: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Bloomsbury, 652 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 2792 5
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... borrowed many of Bingham’s traits for his unassuming super-spy George Smiley (another model was Vivian Green, a chaplain at his school and his Oxford college, and a long-term mentor). The unmasking of some, but not all, of the Cambridge spies had left MI5 ‘riven with suspicion and rumour’. Cornwell seems to have run some agents and informers, and ...


Angela Carter, 2 October 1980

... l’oeil, stuck in the lucid amber of her prose. Her portrait of her friend, the poet Renée Vivian, in The Pure and the Impure, has the finite quality of 19th-century fiction. ‘I remember Renée’s gay laughter, her liveliness, the faint halo of light trembling in her golden hair all combined to sadden me, as does the happines of blind children who ...

Cuban Heels with Twisting Tongues

Salman Rushdie, 4 June 1981

Three Trapped Tigers 
by G. Cabrera Infante.
Picador, 487 pp., £2.95, August 1980, 0 330 26133 9
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... an advertising writer by day and a drummer by night, unsuccessfully pursues the young heiress Vivian Smith-Corona Alvarez de Real; a large number of sensationally beautiful women, Magalena and Irenita and Livia and Laura and Mirtila and especially the super-luscious Cuba Venegas, strut their stuff; it seems remarkably easy to fondle their breasts but ...


Julian Evans: What might Larbaud have thought?, 31 July 1997

... mitigate certain embarrassing historical facts.Valery Larbaud (1881-1957) sounds as fictitious as Vivian Darkbloom or V. Cantaboff; but Larbaud existed, as poet, novelist, critic, translator, born in Vichy, son of an excessive mother and a quiet pharmacist father, who made a pile from discovering and bottling the mineral springs of Saint-Yorre and then ...


John Lanchester, 5 January 1989

by Anton Shammas, translated by Vivian Eden.
Viking, 263 pp., £11.95, November 1988, 0 670 81619 1
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by Beat Sterchi, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 353 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 571 14934 0
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A Casual Brutality 
by Neil Bissoondath.
Bloomsbury, 378 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 7475 0252 8
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... and its Christian inhabitants belong to the 700,000-strong Arab minority inside the 1949 ‘green line’ of the Israeli state. Everyone in Fassuta has a story to tell, and the historical fact of dispossession means that this story is one of the few things they really own; their only inalienable possession is their personal history. Arabesques is dense ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... any so-called artist, Turner writes: ‘Cash clearly felt that he was a misunderstood man – that Vivian not only didn’t understand the demands of his work but couldn’t accept his mercurial artistic temperament. June, on the other hand, he felt loved him for who he was.’ We’ve heard that one before. After years of anguish, Cash eventually left his ...

Anyone for gulli-danda?

Tariq Ali, 15 July 1999

... bagpipes reminds me of the first cricket matches I watched from the Victorian pavilion in the lush green field of the Lawrence Gardens (now the Jinnah Gardens), where Majid Khan’s father (and Imran Khan’s uncle), the stern-faced Dr Jehangir Khan, used to open the innings, and where, in a crucial Test Match between India and Pakistan in the Fifties, our ...

On holiday with Leonardo

Nicholas Penny, 21 December 1989

The New Museology 
edited by Peter Vergo.
Reaktion, 230 pp., £23, September 1989, 0 948462 04 3
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The Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home 1750-1850 
by Clive Wainwright.
Yale, 314 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 300 04225 6
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Journal of the History of Collections, No 1 
edited by Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor.
Oxford, 230 pp., £23, June 1989, 0 00 954665 0
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... have not attended to the ‘current tendency’, Ludmilla Jordanova stamps her foot in the Bethnal Green Museum: ‘Social differences in clothing are not mentioned, nor are prices given. In fact, a number of the cases clearly contain expensive, hand-made or exclusive clothes. To imply that all children at a given time – the cases are structured by period ...

Memories We Get to Keep

James Meek: James Salter’s Apotheosis, 20 June 2013

All That Is 
by James Salter.
Picador, 290 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3824 9
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Collected Stories 
by James Salter.
Picador, 303 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3938 3
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... know things about that the central character can’t know. Perspectives cascade. Bowman marries Vivian, whose mother is Caroline, whose father is Warren Wain, whose son is Cook, of whose life we get a tiny vignette before he is dropped, not to reappear. The munificence of access gives All That Is an excitable, digressive quality that sits strangely with the ...


Barbara Everett, 2 April 1987

... into the darker forms of ‘genre’ or ‘romance’ fiction. The ghost or horror story, The Green Man (the name of a public-house called after a local devil), in which 17th-century demons penetrate a modern psychological story involving a child; the ‘Thirties’ thriller or detective story, The Riverside Villas Murder, which is at the same time an ...

Emily of Fire & Violence

Paul Keegan: Eliot’s Letters, 22 October 2020

... is in cream yellow with bookcases (for review books etc), two chairs and a desk and an armchair, a green carpet (to come) and an electric stove, very high looking down over Woburn Square.’In January 1931 he describes his working day: ‘On Friday morning when I arrived the flamboyant Mr Alfred A. Knopf of New York (Inc.) with brilliant tie and stickpin was ...

A Feeling for Ice

Jenny Diski, 2 January 1997

... room as a postal address. And the woman became a very wealthy woman, she had a curtain place in Vivian Avenue.’‘I had her here to estimate for curtains,’ Mrs Rosen remembered.‘That’s right. And Jimmy was named as a co-respondent while he was living in Paramount Court.’Whether he was named as co-respondent to the curtain woman’s divorce, or one ...

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