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Ugly Stuff

Ian Hamilton

15 October 1981
Beyond the Pale 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 256 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 9780370304427
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The Black House 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 258 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 434 33518 5
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Lantern Lecture 
by Adam Mars-Jones.
Faber, 197 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 571 11813 5
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... William Trevor is bewitched by childhoods and by second childhoods: the ‘grown-up’ bit in between is for him a dullish swamp of lies, commerce, lust and things like that. For Trevor, the only way to recapture childish purity is somehow to hang on until you’re hugely old, or to have a grown-up life that is so deeply marked by memories of childhood that all the other grown-ups think you’re odd ...

Demented Brothers

Declan Kiberd: William Trevor

8 March 2001
The Hill Bachelors 
by William Trevor.
Viking, 245 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 0 670 89256 4
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... is eager to proclaim an evangel of some kind, and therefore must be aggressive. A story in William Trevor’s new collection, The Hill Bachelors, treats these themes in a surprising but apposite way. ‘Of the Cloth’ describes the declining days of a Church of Ireland clergyman, the Rev. Grattan Fitzmaurice, rector of the mountain parish of ...
16 December 1993
Aren’t We Due a Royalty Statement? 
by Giles Gordon.
Chatto, 352 pp., £16.99, August 1993, 0 7011 6022 5
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Yesterday Came Suddenly 
by Francis King.
Constable, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1993, 9780094722200
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Excursions in the Real World 
by William Trevor.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 09 177086 6
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... as he would say, foolish. He cannot recall the name of the funeral parlour where Tennessee Williams lay in state nor can he remember the venue (‘some pub in Fleet Street’) where he was to meet Gore Vidal. Probably it had been so with us had we been there, but we might not have thought it necessary to say so, especially if, like Gordon himself, we ...

Après-Mao

Michael Hofmann: Yiyun Li

14 June 2017
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life 
by Yiyun Li.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 241 28395 0
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... writings of writers – the non-Li. It seems she is most drawn to Irish and Russian writers: William Trevor, Elizabeth Bowen, John McGahern; Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Gorky, though her pantheon is unpredictable and expands to take in Hardy and Mansfield, some oddly straightforward passages from the letters of Philip Larkin or the conundrum that is ...

Eyes and Ears

Anthony Thwaite

23 June 1988
The Silence in the Garden 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 204 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 9780370312187
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Sea Music 
by David Profumo.
Secker, 207 pp., £10.95, May 1988, 9780436387142
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Tell it me again 
by John Fuller.
Chatto, 202 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 7011 3288 4
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The Continuing Silence of a Poet: The Collected Short Stories of A.B. Yehoshua 
Peter Halban/Weidenfeld, 377 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 1 870015 14 2Show More
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... Maisie knew, The Go-Between, many other novels and stories. Such children are at the centre of William Trevor’s tenth novel and David Profumo’s first; or rather, Trevor seems to have chosen to place young Tom both centrally and peripherally (as children often are, in fiction and in life), while Profumo makes ...

Entails

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 ...

Dying Cultures

Graham Hough

3 July 1980
Problems 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 260 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 233 97227 7
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The City Builder 
by George Konrad.
Sidgwick, 184 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 15 118009 1
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The Peach Groves 
by Barbara Hanrahan.
Chatto, 228 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7011 2490 3
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Other People’s Worlds 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 243 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 370 30312 1
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... with a blithe heartlessness, that make up a most eccentric and exhilarating pattern. By contrast, William Trevor’s Other People’s Worlds is very much drawn from stock. The setting is a small Gloucestershire town, Julia the central character a pleasant middle-aged widow. Her decorous, undemanding world is broken into by an unsuccessful actor casually ...

Street Wise

Pat Rogers

3 October 1985
Hawksmoor 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 241 11664 3
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Paradise Postponed 
by John Mortimer.
Viking, 374 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 670 80094 5
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High Ground 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 156 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13681 8
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... were exhaled, And each man fixed his eyes before his feet, Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hour With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. The novel at a crucial point reaches the same mood as well as the identical locale; and Stetson’s corpses ‘planted last year in your garden’ are ...
25 January 1990
An Awfully Big Adventure 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 193 pp., £10.95, December 1989, 0 7156 2204 8
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The Thirteen-Gun Salute 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins, 319 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 00 223460 2
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Family Sins, and Other Stories 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 251 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 370 31374 7
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... descriptions of Stella’s perceptions remind one of animal thoughts in the novels of Henry Williamson. Smells, for example, are important, and it is usually Stella who smells them: She stayed behind dipping her nose like a pecking hen into the front of her jumper to sniff herself. She hadn’t known George smelled, or rather that the sour whiffs of ...
21 January 1988
Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 317 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 436 42512 2
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Archbishop William Laud 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 272 pp., £25, December 1987, 0 7102 0463 9
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Clarendon and his Friends 
by Richard Ollard.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £15, September 1987, 0 241 12380 1
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Anti-Calvinists 
by Nicholas Tyacke.
Oxford, 305 pp., £30, February 1987, 0 19 822939 9
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Criticism and Compliment: The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £27.50, December 1987, 0 521 34239 2
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... Among Hugh Trevor-Roper’s historical interests it is the Early Modern period, from the late Renaissance to the Baroque, that has claimed his most distinctive literary form, the long essay. He is our finest practitioner of the genre since Macaulay – who wrote when the economics of publishing were friendlier to it ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite

18 May 1989
The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... touched with comedy as well as pathos. At times I was reminded of Compton-Burnett, and often of William Trevor. But the lines that kept on coming into my head were from another brooder on things that might have been, on wrong choices, on ruffled dignity:                      no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of ...

Abecedary

James Francken: Ian Sansom

20 May 2004
Ring Road: There’s No Place like Home 
by Ian Sansom.
Fourth Estate, 388 pp., £12.99, April 2004, 0 00 715653 7
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... feelings of hope and opportunity for Sansom, feelings which he associates with his baby. He quotes William Trevor – ‘The map of Ireland is not unlike a sleeping infant’ – as he compares his newborn’s tidy proportions with the ‘faltering outline’ of his own body: ‘I am coming to resemble the shape of mainland Britain.’ But there are other ...

The Calvinist International

Colin Kidd: Hugh Trevor-Roper

22 May 2008
The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 267 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 300 13686 9
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Europe’s Physician: The Various Life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 438 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 300 11263 7
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... Hugh Trevor-Roper, who died in January 2003 shortly after his 89th birthday, had several of the qualities cherished in Britain’s so-called ‘national treasures’. His schoolboyish playfulness and relish of mischief never deserted him, nor did an unerring compass in matters of style, which assured an elegant, and seemingly effortless, command of language and bearing ...

Liquidator

Neal Ascherson: Hugh Trevor-Roper

19 August 2010
Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Weidenfeld, 598 pp., £25, July 2010, 978 0 297 85214 8
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... Seven years after his death, Hugh Trevor-Roper’s reputation is still a cauldron of discord. He would have enjoyed that. Steaming in the mix are the resentments of those he expertly wounded, the awe of colleagues at the breadth and depth of his learning, dismay at his serial failures to complete a full-length work of history, delight in the Gibbonian wit and elegance of his writing and – still a major ingredient – Schadenfreude over his awful humiliation in the matter of the Hitler diaries ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet

20 May 2004
The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... purposive, energetic-sounding verb ‘moved into’, is meaningless unless it is explained that William Golding’s The Paper Men was a late, and lame, novel of remarkable thinness by an old famous author about being a famous author. It was metafictional only in the way that reality TV is metatelevisual. Stevenson never reflects on a writer’s aesthetic ...

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