Tag Archives: Novels

The Seventh Function of Language

Laurent Binet, author of the remarkable novel (in French), The Seventh Function of Language, seems succinctly to describe his technique on p.333 of the English edition: ‘one fanatics gently’. But is that English? Is the original, ‘on forcène doucement’, French? … Continue reading

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Iris Murdoch on the Easter Rising 1916

The Red and the Green was Iris Murdoch’s seventh novel and stood out in her fictional career as a unique attempt to capture an historical event. The topic was The Easter Rising, Dublin 1916, in which independence fighters staged an … Continue reading

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Antonio Tabucchi’s novel of pessmism and measured hope set in Fascist Portugal

Pereira Maintains, by the late Italian writer Alexander Trocchi, is a minature masterpiece. It is as satisfying in its form as it is morally, and contemporary literature doesn’t offer so many chances to say this. A smash success in Italy … Continue reading

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Why Pamela Hansford Johnson disliked Iris Murdoch

The two novelists met at a dinner-party in October 1961. It was the only time they met, and apparently Murdoch, the younger of the two, left no record of it. Johnson by contrast was full of venom: Iris is heavy, … Continue reading

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Jocelyn Brooke’s ‘Drawn Sword’ — An English ‘Death in Venice’?

I was reading Jocelyn Brooke during a period of thinking again about an old love, the German genius Thomas Mann. Brooke is a serious-minded English writer from the mid twentieth century. He was a fine stylist, and with that went … Continue reading

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Greg Baxter’s Talent

The author of The Apartment (2012) and Munich Airport (2014) is a pointillist with words. He’s like the nineteenth-century painter Seurat conjuring a million dots into a picture of reality; except he’s a writer. His words are like pixels: amass … Continue reading

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Candia McWilliam: the best case-study since Freud’s Frau Emmy?

In her prize-winning A Case of Knives (1987) Candia McWilliam, a British novelist of my generation, created a word-circus. Her sentences were high-wire acts, her dialogues acrobatic and clowning. She was the Mistress of Ceremonies, cracking the whip to make … Continue reading

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