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Andropov’s Turn

Philip Short, 19 May 1983

by Roy Medvedev, translated by Brian Pearce.
Blackwell, 292 pp., £9.50, November 1982, 0 631 12993 6
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Soviet Policy for the 1980s 
edited by Archie Brown and Michael Kaser.
Macmillan/St Antony’s College, Oxford, 282 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 333 33139 7
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... which might generate pressure for political change, as had happened in Czechoslovakia. But, as Philip Hanson shows, in an essay on Soviet foreign economic relations, the imported equipment often failed to do what was expected because the unreformed Soviet economy could not assimilate it. The prospects for reform, and the problems impeding it, make up the ...

Republican King

Philippe Marlière: François Mitterrand, 17 April 2014

Mitterrand: A Study in Ambiguity 
by Philip Short.
Bodley Head, 692 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84792 006 5
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... written in French about Mitterrand, but only half a dozen in English; this impressive biography by Philip Short, a BBC correspondent in Paris in the 1980s, is a welcome addition. Short has drawn on an array of official and unofficial sources, including verbatim private conversations between Mitterrand and other foreign ...

Philip Roth’s House of Fiction

Michael Mason, 6 December 1979

The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... The Ghost Writer is Philip Roth’s best novel yet. Certainly it is his most ingenious. But this familiar way of putting things may contain a mistake, a mistake which is part of the subject-matter of Roth’s book. ‘Best novel yet’ implies a future of prosperous activity which may be barmecidal. The novelist-hero of Henry James’s story ‘The Middle Years’ is amused by the view that his latest novel is ‘the best thing he has done yet’: it ‘made such a grand avenue of the future ...

On Philip Terry

Colin Burrow, 13 July 2017

... think of pseudy dudes in black 501s and Doc Martens, then I would prescribe a small daily dose of Philip Terry, for whom being experimental chiefly means being thoughtfully rebellious and funny. In his translation of Dante’s Inferno (2014), Terry is guided through the hell that is the University of Essex (where he is professor of creative writing) by the ...

Philip Roth in Israel

Julian Barnes, 5 March 1987

The Counterlife 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 336 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 224 02871 5
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... Philip Roth’s new novel is marvellously rich, boisterously serious, dense, fizzing and formally audacious. More than with most novels, to review it is to betray it. This isn’t inappropriate, since one of Roth’s abiding themes is fiction’s betrayal of life and the novelist’s treachery to those who surround him ...

Scattering Gaggle

Jessie Childs: Armada on the Rocks, 4 May 2023

Armada: The Spanish Enterprise and England’s Deliverance in 1588 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 718 pp., £30, December 2022, 978 0 300 25986 5
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... was to be captured or killed.In overall charge, though remaining in Spain, was Parma’s uncle, Philip II. Short, dressed in black, with eyes ‘somewhat red’ and the jutting jaw of a Habsburg, Philip did not look like ‘the most potent monarch of Christendom’, as the 17th-century ...

The Truth about Consuela

Tim Parks: Death and Philip Roth, 4 November 2010

by Philip Roth.
Cape, 280 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 224 08953 1
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... themes were tossed off with an insouciance that bordered on slapstick. Twenty years later, Philip Roth’s recent short novels create something of the same impression. Above all, Roth’s chronicling of modern American history is now little more than an alibi: the draft and the Korean War in Indignation, the 9/11 ...
... of that feeling produces dread, sensitivity, self-criticism and sometimes self-destruction. In short, it isn’t a particularly glorious feeling. Only one thing may be said in its favour: it harms no one except for those afflicted with it. PR: In The Immortal Bartfuss, your newly-translated novel, Bartfuss asks ‘irreverently’ of his dying mistress’s ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Radio 3’s ‘X Factor’, 14 July 2011

... it an ‘X Factor-style talent search’. More than 1000 people applied (10,000 according to Philip Dodd on Night Waves, though I think he must have misread the script). The numbers took the organisers by surprise and led them to extend the judging period, but they shouldn’t have done: the AHRC ought to know better than anyone that academics these ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Literary Prizes, 10 May 2001

... by people who’ve read all the contenders and haven’t had to buy them from WHSmith, was won by Philip Roth’s The Human Stain – not, incidentally, on the shortlist that the ‘unelitist’ organisers offered the voters. Which brings us to the all-new Short Cuts Awards 2001. The winner in the Most Laconic Dedication ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Nephews and Daughters, 23 January 2003

... to be the people who’d compiled it. The Today programme tried to get a dispute going between Philip Hensher (37), one of the chosen writers, and Ian Jack (57), the editor of Granta and chair of the judges, after Hensher said he thought it was silly and arbitrary that novelists had to be under 40 to be considered, and that it should be more important that ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Telly, 9 August 2001

... Perhaps they were thinking of the non-story of last year in which someone who wasn’t Philip Hensher didn’t get hit by someone who wasn’t James Thackara, after Hensher, reviewing Thackara’s first novel, said he couldn’t ‘write “Bum” on a wall’. At least Norman Mailer did head-butt Gore Vidal. Anyway, two hours with the Yellow ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Quiet American, 14 November 2002

... later this month is The Quiet American, starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser, directed by Philip Noyce, and based on Graham Greene’s novel. (It isn’t the first time the book’s been adapted for the screen: Mankiewicz made a version in 1958 which Greene, who anyway tended to have a very low opinion of films based on his novels, couldn’t stand ...

In Berlin

Philip Oltermann, 5 July 2012

... of the stories it carries would be considered too boring for the British press – a series of short reports on negotiations between the steelworkers’ union and Opel, for example. With twenty offices outside Berlin, Bild is consistent in its coverage of regional industrial policy. And who’s to say that stories like that don’t tell us more about the ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: On Bullshit, 17 April 2003

... to believe that, had Ingham been free to do his job as he wanted, we’d have been, like so many Philip Larkins, the less deceived. Some of his readers may wonder, however, why a chief press secretary did not resign like his predecessor if he felt he was being sidelined at a moment – such as now – when a government should have sufficient trust in the ...

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