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Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... also find evidence of it in unlikely places. The most likely place, of course, is Whitehall and William Camp discovers rot setting in there or already set in: the unions hold the country to ransom, a handful of businessmen make a profit out of hard times, and politicians fall over backwards, sometimes literally, to disgrace themselves. Hooliganism ...

Other Eden

Amit Chaudhuri, 15 September 1988

Tigers, Durbars and Kings: Fanny Eden’s Indian Journals 1837-1838 
edited by Janet Dunbar.
Murray, 202 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 7195 4440 8
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... travelled to the Rajmahal Hills in February 1837 on a ‘tiger-shooting trip’ with her nephew William Osborne, 260 camp followers (‘We find we have 260 people altogether in the camp – half our followers bring their followers’) and 20 elephants. Later, she accompanied (with ...

In a Boat of His Own Making

James Camp: Jack London, 25 September 2014

Jack London: An American Life 
by Earle Labor.
Farrar, Straus, 439 pp., £21.99, November 2013, 978 0 374 17848 2
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The Sea-Wolf 
by Jack London.
Hesperus, 287 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 1 78094 200 1
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... to help her make financial decisions; she also met men at them, among them her first husband, William Chaney, a fellow spiritualist. In 1875 Wellman told Chaney she was pregnant; he denied being the father. After he went out, she took a small dose of laudanum, borrowed a pistol from a neighbour and then, according to reports in the press, shot herself in ...

Lord Bounder

David Cannadine, 19 January 1984

F.E. Smith, First Earl of Birkenhead 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 918 pp., November 1983, 0 224 01596 6
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... on a par with Winston’s life of Lord Randolph for devotion and discretion. Then, in 1960, William Camp completed his ‘unofficial portrait’, which took its title, The Glittering Prizes, from one of Birkenhead’s more controversial and offensive later speeches, and pulled no punches at all. As biographies, they were both eminently readable in ...


Christopher Driver, 19 May 1983

Fools of Fortune 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 239 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30953 7
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What a beautiful Sunday! 
by Jorge Semprun, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Secker, 429 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 9780436446603
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An Innocent Millionaire 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 388 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 241 10929 9
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The Papers of Tony Veitch 
by William McIlvanney.
Hodder, 254 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 340 22907 1
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In the Shadow of the Paradise Tree 
by Sasha Moorsom.
Routledge, 247 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9408 6
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The Bride 
by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 224 02047 1
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... The theme of William Trevor’s new novel – his ninth, and that leaves short-story collections out of account – is the murderous entail of Anglo-Irish history, in which, as a Cork man, he may fairly be considered expert. But unlike most experts, above all most specialists in Ireland’s past, he knows how little has to be told and how much is best left to the reader’s own memory and imagination ...

Holocaust Art

Robert Taubman, 10 January 1983

Schindler’s Ark 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 432 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 340 27838 2
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... Its hero hardly differs from the prototypes of the Romantic revolutionary, and his prison is not a camp but a stone vault. You wouldn’t think that more than a hundred years had passed since Fidelio. But as the names Dachau or Buchenwald began to appear more widely in the literature of the Thirties, it was clear that they referred to a new phenomenon – not ...

Memories of the Sausage Fly

William Boyd, 7 July 1983

... the merchant ships steaming in to Lagos harbour; surf at the surfing beach, and at night sleep on camp beds in the open air, beneath the stars and a mosquito net. The Americans refer to the children of US Army personnel serving abroad as ‘army brats’ or ‘air force brats’. There were times when we were ‘colonial ...

This Is Not That Place

Thomas Jones: David Eggers escapes from Sudan, 21 June 2007

What Is the What 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 475 pp., £18.99, June 2007, 978 0 241 14257 8
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... the Ethiopian border call the boys ‘jaysh al-ahmar’ or ‘red army’. In Pinyudo, the refugee camp in Ethiopia, the boys were both ‘aid bait’, an indirect source of supplies from overseas, and soldiers in waiting. The boys were sustained on their trek across Sudan by fantasies of the luxury that awaited them on the other side of the Gilo River: We ...

Weaponising Paperwork

William Davies: The Windrush Scandal, 10 May 2018

... a majority and frighten a minority. But whether an individual falls into the first or the second camp doesn’t depend only on their legal status. It is also a matter of how settled and welcome they feel in the UK, not to mention their capacity to produce paperwork. Nobody has suffered from this policy as badly as the Windrush victims, but countless British ...

Who am I prepared to kill?

William Davies: The Politics of Like and Dislike, 30 July 2020

... to cultural camps that we had no hand in designing, and whose main virtue is that the other camp is even worse. One stupid position (‘You can’t judge the past by the standards of the present!’) presumes its only marginally less stupid opponent (‘We must judge the past by the standards of the present!’). This turns an opportunity to address the ...

Living on Apple Crumble

August Kleinzahler: James Schuyler, 17 November 2005

Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-91 
edited by William Corbett.
Turtle Point, 470 pp., £13.99, May 2005, 1 885586 30 2
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... but they were smart and talented, as were the painters associated with the gallery: William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan, Alfred Leslie, Larry Rivers, Norman Bluhm and Fairfield Porter. It all made for a vigorous little scene, a fair bit of it played out at the ...

America and Israel

Ian Gilmour, 18 February 1982

The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East 
by Mahmoud Riad.
Quartet, 365 pp., £11.95, October 1981, 0 7043 2297 8
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Palestinian Self-Determination 
by Hassan Bin Talal.
Quartet, 138 pp., £6.95, July 1981, 0 7043 2312 5
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This Year in Jerusalem 
by Kenneth Cragg.
Darton, Longman and Todd, 192 pp., £5.95, February 1982, 0 232 51524 7
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... to the Zionist takeover of their territory. Now things are better. Few columnists, of whom Mr William Safire is one, are as crude in their partisanship as was most of the American press until recently. The serious newspapers, whose education has been furthered by the activities of Menachim Begin, do at least make their readers aware that there are two ...

Speak for yourself, matey

Adam Mars-Jones: The Uses of Camp, 22 November 2012

How to Be Gay 
by David Halperin.
Harvard, 549 pp., £25.95, August 2012, 978 0 674 06679 3
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... the mysterious persistence of discredited elements from pre-Stonewall gay male culture. In theory camp should have been rendered obsolete by the arrival of models of gay behaviour not driven by the old toxic blend of shame and defiance, but there are still careers to be made from the man-sized frock and the killer putdown. Halperin’s argument is that these ...

Oh for the oo tray

William Feaver: Edward Burra, 13 December 2007

Edward Burra: Twentieth-Century Eye 
by Jane Stevenson.
Cape, 496 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 224 07875 7
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... now shes croaked.’ Stevenson talks of Burra’s ‘habitual facetiousness’ and ‘camp irony’ in times of grief or pain. When things became too much he carried on behind screeds of banter. The letters, even those to his closest friends, Chappell, a ballet dancer, and Barbara Ker-Seymer, a photographer and launderette owner, rarely confide ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... United States, the one she had been reading since she was a teenager. Its editors, Philip Rahv and William Phillips, no longer worked in tandem as they had in the old days; Phillips alone discovered Sontag and took her up as a representative and promising young writer. He memorably misassigned her to the journal’s theatre column, the post that had been held ...

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