Books

Big little man

28 September 2002 12:00 am

‘What a swankpot!’ Sir Norman Wisdom pseudo-modestly pseudo-rebukes himself after listing some of the trophies in a display cabinet at…

No petticoat long unlifted

28 September 2002 12:00 am

Few admirers of Faber’s recent spate of tales and novellas – the spacious and admirably unadorned The Courage Consort and…

The Margot and Henry show

28 September 2002 12:00 am

The publicity material likens this book to The Forsyte Saga, but in fact it’s far more gripping than fiction: the…

Well met by moonlight

28 September 2002 12:00 am

One of the best permanent shows in London is the Science Museum’s collection of electrical and magnetic instruments commissioned by…

Past glories prove elusive

28 September 2002 12:00 am

Despite many allusions to Virgil and a diligent summary of various interpretations of Poussin’s ‘Les Bergers d’Arcadie’, Ben Okri’s main…

Gentleman and player

28 September 2002 12:00 am

During my brief stint as a showbiz scribe – which unfortunately came to an end when I expressed a preference…

Too much and too late

28 September 2002 12:00 am

By the criteria of the day before yesterday, the late William Whitelaw, a much loved Tory politician who served as…

Our man in the thick of it

28 September 2002 12:00 am

There he is on the cover, our handsome 57-year-old Boys’ Own adventurer, probably doing a piece to camera, cheered on…

Nature versus Nurture: the state of play

21 September 2002 12:00 am

The Blank Slate, more readily recognised in its original Latin as tabula rasa, is the soubriquet for the view that…

A world of drivers and passengers

21 September 2002 12:00 am

VJ night, the war in the Pacific is finally over, and in William Kennedy’s Albany the war of senatorial election…

The way to the tomb

21 September 2002 12:00 am

This queer, black novel is mainly concerned with the special funeral train service which once plied between Waterloo Station and…

Out of the bottom drawer?

21 September 2002 12:00 am

Two years ago in The Spectator I praised Ha Jin’s earlier novel, Waiting. It was about a kindly, ineffectual army…

Singing for your supper

21 September 2002 12:00 am

On 23 February l937 a small boy of seven arrives at Victoria station, London. Here he is met, as arranged,…

Boots, boots, boots, boots

21 September 2002 12:00 am

KEANE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHYby Roy KeanePenguin/Michael Joseph, £17.99, pp. 294, ISBN 07181455 One could imagine an American visitor to Hatchards being…

Not one to be stared down

21 September 2002 12:00 am

No ghostwriter haunts this account of a cricketing life, so obviously written by the man who played the way he…

Pedalling into politics

21 September 2002 12:00 am

Perhaps it is not a good idea to call Dervla Murphy ‘redoubtable’. She is a strident anti-militarist and might not…

The heart of the master

14 September 2002 12:00 am

THE HUMOUR AND THE PITY: ESSAYS ON V. S. NAIPAULedited by Amitava KumarBuffalo Books, in association with the British Council,…

When inner and outer reality collide

14 September 2002 12:00 am

Coleridge’s Notebooks have been a companion during most of my mature life and this is a marvellously judged and varied…

He is cheap, he is pure, he is capable – and he isn’t doomed

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In any discussion about the English judicial system with foreigners, they are always amazed to learn that more than 90…

Unblinking, even for a second

14 September 2002 12:00 am

Some novels are something; others are about something. If fiction is an art, then the former class is more likely…

A new lease of life

14 September 2002 12:00 am

The heroine of Margaret Drabble’s new novel is on first sight pretty depressing, and supposed to be so. The opening…

As sharp as cut tin

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In fiction, as in other branches of the creative arts, reputation is all, or nearly all. One of my most…

Raw skin over bone

14 September 2002 12:00 am

At the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, Dr David Starkey, the television historian and iconoclast, pronounced that history was elitist…

How the master of landscape was transformed

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In 1760s Bath, the promenade from the Pump Room to the tree-lined Walks of Orange Grove passed a row of…

Deceiving only those who want to believe

14 September 2002 12:00 am

Forgery ranked with murder as a capital crime well into the 19th century. Faked texts and signatures could falsify wills…