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Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... books and papers so that it can be used for the filming.I first saw the house in 1968. Jonathan Miller lives in the same street and Rachel, his wife, saw the ‘For Sale’ sign go up. It belonged to an American woman who kept parrots and there were perches in the downstairs room and also in its small garden. Slightly older than the other houses in the ...

I, Lowborn Cur

Colin Burrow: Literary Names, 22 November 2012

Literary Names: Personal Names in English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 283 pp., £19.99, September 2012, 978 0 19 959222 7
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... Hurricane Bird; Gaviota Oscura; Gaviota Monja; Oiseau Fou; Touaou. But when the keen birdwatcher Ian Fleming needed a name that sounded as ordinary as possible, he had to look no further than the title page of Bond’s great work. Why does the name of an actual ornithologist sound so right as the name of a fictional spy? Why couldn’t Fleming have used ...

The Great Scots Education Hoax

Rosalind Mitchison, 18 October 1984

The Companion to Gaelic Scotland 
edited by Derick Thomson.
Blackwell, 363 pp., £25, December 1983, 0 631 12502 7
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Experience and Enlightenment: Socialisation for Cultural Changes in 18th-Century Scotland 
by Charles Camic.
Edinburgh, 301 pp., £20, January 1984, 0 85224 483 5
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Knee Deep in Claret: A Celebration of Wine and Scotland 
by Billy Kay and Cailean Maclean.
Mainstream, 232 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 906391 45 8
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Education and Opportunity in Victorian Scotland: Schools and Universities 
by R.D. Anderson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, July 1983, 0 19 822696 9
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Scotland: The Real Divide 
edited by Gordon Brown and Robin Cook.
Mainstream, 251 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 906391 18 0
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Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment 
edited by Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff.
Cambridge, 371 pp., £35, November 1983, 0 521 23397 6
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... sentiment (wild geese and all), or the counterweight Protestant myth in Northern Ireland in which William III for ever rides a white horse. The interest of the Scottish sample of such beliefs lies in the fact that Scottish myths are not an expression of either successful or of frustrated nationalism. They mostly involve Scots holding with immense pride, but ...

Soul Bellow

Craig Raine, 12 November 1987

More die of heartbreak 
by Saul Bellow.
Alison Press/Secker, 335 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 436 03962 1
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... in the dramatic forms supplied by Tennessee Williams, Clifford Odets, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, Fugard found what he needed in Camus’s treatment of Algeria: ‘when I first encountered the articulation of that almost pagan, sensual life lived out in the sun, next to a sea, with warm rocks being, in a sense, the ultimate reality, it struck a ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... intimately, more agonistically engaged with poetry than anybody else except possibly the youthful William Empson, whom at this time he greatly admired. And the whole business of criticism acquired a new and exhilarating quality. That gnarled manner of speaking or writing sounded serious, deliberate and urgent, a new way of stressing the high importance of the ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... goatee modelled on George Arliss’s Disraeli and had to be persuaded by his director, Jonathan Miller, to evolve in the succeeding weeks a characterisation based on his own face. No one seems to have told Holden that dress rehearsals normally complete, not commence, the rehearsal process. He will surprise many who worked with Tyrone Guthrie by describing ...

Subversions

R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... moles. This seems to me wrong-headed in several different ways. The key judgment is surely that of William Strang, the Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, in a paper of May 1943: We need Russian collaboration. The conclusion of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty marks our decision that this must be our policy … even if fears that Russia lay a ‘heavy ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... branches in the Bettys chain) no longer does organic produce as they’ve changed their flour miller. ‘However,’ she assures me, ‘the flour is locally produced.’ As are, presumably, its pesticide residues. When I ask why the flour could not be locally produced and nevertheless be organic she cannot explain. Money is, I imagine, the short answer ...

The Price

Dan Jacobson: The concluding part of Dan Jacobson’s interview with Ian Hamilton, 21 February 2002

... stage, I had been dragged in as a possible editor of this thing.I know they wanted to get Karl Miller at one point. But Karl had recommended me and for Karl’s sake I agreed to talk. It was thought I knew how to start magazines.Irony. Anyway, by then I’d been at the TLS, so I did know more about it than they did. I drew up endless documents about how ...

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