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Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... facetious humour of his earlier fiction – represented most obviously by his Shandean narrator, Gregory Glen – Bage involves his characters in some of the most commonly debated political and philosophical issues of the day. Hermsprong is the idealised product of a childhood passed among Native Americans whose simple virtues he absorbs before his ...

Formication

Daniel Soar: Harry Mathews, 21 July 2005

My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 
by Harry Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 203 pp., £8.99, July 2005, 1 56478 392 8
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... great names trip off the tongue: Jean-Noël Vuarnet, Sylviane Agacinski, Jim West, Mary McCarthy, Gregory Mazurovsky, Richard Foreman, Kate Manheim, Louis and Zuka Mittelberg, Bruno Marcenac, Michel Loriod, Maurice Roche), he now can see that all the high-flown references he had barely understood – to Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Lacan – were no more than ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... a film dedicated to the good of mutual understanding, Davies played with avuncular benignity by Walter Huston, and the film introduced by Davies himself. The movies actually written by Communists in the late 1930s (the harvest years of the Hollywood CP, after the ‘fair seed-time’ of the Popular Front) are almost all unwatchable. Murray Kempton in Part ...

What does a snake know, or intend?

David Thomson: Where Joan Didion was from, 18 March 2004

Where I Was From 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 240 pp., £14.99, March 2004, 0 00 717886 7
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... usually is. And now here comes Joan Didion, a little bit like the doomsayer on the wagon train (Walter Brennan, with teeth), but too arresting to be ignored, to tell us the prospectus, like the prospect, was a hoax. None of Joan Didion’s books has been long, exactly, not with the generous amounts of white space she provides, which serve as fresh linen and ...

Mushrooms

Michael Dobson: How to Be a Favourite, 5 October 2006

Literature and Favouritism in Early Modern England 
by Curtis Perry.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £50, February 2006, 0 521 85405 9
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... or cowed into an embittered quietism. It’s a shame that Perry’s book went to press before Gregory Doran’s revelatory RSC revival, performed at the Swan in Stratford last year, demonstrated what a shocking and resonant piece of drama Sejanus can still be. Perry acknowledges in passing that leaders of Western democracies still grant and receive ...

Yeats and Violence

Michael Wood: On ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’, 14 August 2008

... the old Ascendancy in Ireland. Elsewhere Yeats borrows a phrase from the poem to talk about Lady Gregory, who is said to be ‘indifferent to praise or blame’, a quality attributed to the law that was one of the pretty toys ‘we’ had when young. But then their youth in this sense goes back a while, at least to the 18th century, as Foster suggests, and ...

Who do you think you are?

Jacqueline Rose: Trans Narratives, 5 May 2016

... down the generations. ‘You keep seeing the same faces,’ Judge Robert Finn told John Gregory Dunne, who wrote about the case in 1997. ‘I’m into third-generation domestic abuse and restraining orders.’ He was talking about husbands and lovers whose fathers and grandfathers had appeared before him on the same charges in the course of his 16 ...

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