Category Archives: Literature

Notebook

I shouldn’t normally show what I’d written to anyone: what would be the point? You remember Tennyson reading an unpublished poem to Jowett; when he had finished, Jowett said, “I shouldn’t publish that if I were you, Tennyson.” Tennyson replied, … Continue reading

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The Nix, the hype

My Times review of the much-lauded debut novel from Nathan Hill: Can a novel attract too much attention? That might sound like a foolish question in the age of digital distraction, when writers know they are competing with the cookbooks of … Continue reading

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Notebook

It is said children still have a sense of wonder, later one becomes blunted. Nonsense. A child takes things for granted, and most people get no further; only an old person, who thinks, is aware of the wondrous. Victor Klemperer, diary, … Continue reading

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Notebook

And so I hope at least to be able to fulfil one of the chief conditions of any fair portrayal of an era; namely honesty and impartiality. For truly I have been detached, as rarely anyone has in the past, … Continue reading

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Notebook

Something in the intensity with which Windrip looked at his audience, looked at all of them, his glance slowly taking them in from the highest-perched seat to the nearest, convinced them that he was talking to each individual, directly and … Continue reading

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Notebook

The last day has dawned. Since I drew up those statistics I have tramped an additional 114 kilometres. In a moment I am going into the garden and will cover another ten kilometres, so that I shall be ending my … Continue reading

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Re-imagining the Underground Railroad

The PR machine says it’s a modern masterpiece. I don’t think so. From my review in today’s Times: Who needs literary critics when you have Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey on your side? Colson Whitehead’s tale of fugitives from slavery … Continue reading

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Notebook

I went – no, I staggered out of the room. Before I had reached the end of the dark corridor the last remnants of my strength left me, and my senses receded so that I had to steady myself by … Continue reading

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Notebook

One of the difficulties that confronts the novelist is how to describe the appearance of his characters. The most natural way is of course the formal catalogue, the height, the complexion, the shape of the face, the size of the … Continue reading

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Notebook

The Back Lot was a noisy, gaudy example of what most people seem to imagine all Hollywood is after dark. But except for an occasional celebrated face, it might have been any night spot in any American city. It was … Continue reading

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