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Southern Virtues

Frank Kermode

4 May 1989
A Turn in the South 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Viking, 307 pp., £14.95, April 1989, 0 670 82415 1
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Allen Tate: A Recollection 
by Walter Sullivan.
Louisiana State, 117 pp., $16.95, November 1988, 0 8071 1481 2
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Self-Consciousness 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 245 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 233 98390 2
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... who shared the common view of the Ante-Bellum past as a sort of paradise, but held it in a more than commonly lofty way, was the poet Allen Tate, the subject here of an admiringly candid memoir by WalterSullivan. Tate’s reputation is in its posthumous slump, except perhaps in Nashville and Sewanee, but he is too interesting to stay down for ever. He was one of the Fugitives, all for Agrarianism ...
7 February 1991
Spanner and Pen: Post-War Memoirs 
by Roy Fuller.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 190 pp., £16.95, February 1991, 1 85619 040 4
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... obliging students came from Vanderbilt to read to him, he couldn’t find one whose reading he could tolerate. Tapes and records of actors reading verse he simply removed and pitched across the room. WalterSullivan in his reminiscences of Tate says that in these last days Allen was inclined to repeat himself and to be forgetful of names and places: ‘even so, his mind was still impressive... His ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Bad and the Beautiful’

5 April 2012
The Bad and the Beautiful 
directed by Vincente Minnelli.
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... sort of lesson in how to overdo the flashback. We see and hear three phone calls in the narrative present. A man called Jonathan Shields is trying to reach three Hollywood figures, a director (Barry Sullivan), an actress (Lana Turner) and a writer (Dick Powell), in that order. The first two refuse to take the call, the third takes it and tells Shields to drop dead. Next, still in the present, we see all ...

State Aid

Denis Arnold

22 December 1983
A History of English Opera 
by Eric Walter​ White.
Faber, 472 pp., £30, July 1983, 0 571 10788 5
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... to the Balfes and Wallaces who were always just about to be the first great English opera composers – and never quite lived up to expectations. The arrival of serious singspiel, Gilbert and Sullivan, took until nearly 1880 – a century after Die Entführung of Mozart. The fortunes of its authors underline the free-enterprise atmosphere of 19th-century England, in which culture was largely ...

Ministry of Apparitions

Malcolm Gaskill: Magical Thinking in 1918

4 July 2019
A Supernatural War: Magic, Divination and Faith during the First World War 
by Owen Davies.
Oxford, 284 pp., £20, October 2018, 978 0 19 879455 4
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... In​ 2001 an architect called Danny Sullivan claimed to have found cine film of an angel while rooting around in a Monmouth junk shop. This was, unsurprisingly, a hoax, as were claims that Marlon Brando had paid £350,000 for the footage. But ...
15 April 1982
From Bauhaus to Our House 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 143 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 02030 7
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... the stars at the Aspen Design Conference over the years, or over cocktails at Yale or in the Architectural League of New York. However, what was alleged there about Alma Mahler’s poor rating of Walter Gropius in bed, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s plagiarism of his apprentices’ best designs, or the curious ‘extra services’ required by Le Corbusier when staying in hotels abroad, was alleged within ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000

25 January 2001
... remembered in the nick of time and it’s disinterred from the bottom of the wardrobe or wherever and pinned to a cushion which Merula, his widow, had embroidered years ago with a flowing tapestry of Walter, A.G.’s favourite dog. Once when A.G. was appearing in the West End Walter was run over by a milk-float and slightly injured. The dog was so loved that this news had to be kept from Alec lest he be ...

Call a kid a zebra

Daniel Smith: On the Spectrum

18 May 2016
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism 
by John Donvan and Caren Zucker.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 1 84614 566 7
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NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently 
by Steve Silberman.
Allen and Unwin, 534 pp., £9.99, February 2016, 978 1 76011 364 3
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... of authentic introspection and retrospection,’ Sacks wrote. ‘How could an autistic person write an autobiography? It seemed a contradiction in terms.’ As late as 2001, the epidemiologist Walter Spitzer could still describe autism as ‘a terminal illness … a dead soul in a live body’. Wing was convinced that this monolithic notion of autism was both incorrect and, given how many people ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary

13 September 2018
The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... to the United States. Maeve was 17 when the family emigrated. In Washington, she took a degree in library science at the Catholic University, and became engaged to the playwright and theatre critic Walter Kerr. He broke her heart. (Years later William Shawn told a colleague that Kerr would never write for the New Yorker ‘because of Maeve’.) In 1941, Brennan moved to Manhattan and soon found work ...

A Short History of the Trump Family

Sidney Blumenthal: The First Family

16 February 2017
... Tower, used in place of the usual steel girders. There was John Cody, the boss of Teamsters Local 282, who controlled the cement trucks and was an associate of the Gambino family. There was Daniel Sullivan, Trump’s labour ‘consultant’, who in partnership with the Philadelphia crime boss Nicodemos ‘Nicky’ Scarfo’s financier, sold Trump a property in Atlantic City that became his casino ...

On Some Days of the Week

Colm Tóibín: Mrs Oscar Wilde

10 May 2012
Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde 
by Franny Moyle.
John Murray, 374 pp., £9.99, February 2012, 978 1 84854 164 1
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The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition 
by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel.
Harvard, 295 pp., £25.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05792 0
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... lavender gloves.’ ‘It is at the Grosvenor Gallery,’ Wilde wrote in 1879, ‘that we are enabled to see the highest development of the modern artistic spirit.’ Two years later, Gilbert and Sullivan caricatured Wilde in Patience as a ‘greenery-yallery-Grosvenor-Gallery-foot-in-the-grave-young-man’. When Basil Hallward completes his portrait of Dorian Gray in Wilde’s novel, Lord Henry ...

What I heard about Iraq in 2005

Eliot Weinberger: Iraq

5 January 2006
... General James Conroy of the marines say that American troop withdrawals would soon begin, because ‘Iraqis are starting to take care of their own situation.’ I heard Rear Admiral William Sullivan report to Congress that there were 145,000 ‘combat-capable’ Iraqi forces. I heard Sabah Hadum, a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, say: ‘We are paying about 135,000, but that ...

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